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“Vision 2012″ ACTE National Conference Makes and Appearance in Atlanta

December 28th, 2012
ACTE Photo

SkillsUSA National Officers Craig Swanson, Brian Bradley and Kaila O’Farrell in SkillsUSA’s booth at ACTE along with SkillsUSA Executive Director Timothy W. Lawrence

From November 27 through December 1, I participated in the annual Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) conference in Atlanta. I was joined by staff members Heidi Walsh and Niki Clausen and national officers Brian Bradley (Ga.), Craig Swandon (Ga.) and Kaila O’Farrell (Mass.). The students did an outstanding job speaking to various stakeholder meetings and networking with attendees in our exhibit booth. SkillsUSA conducted six workshops and had good attendance at all of them. Workshops on chapter management, assessments and leadership were conducted by Niki, Heidi and me. A big thank you goes to Karen Ward, SkillsUSA Massachusetts state association director, for conducting workshops on Skill Connect Assessments and leadership development, and to Lana Ford for conducting an additional assessment workshop.

Board member Jeff Johnson, ACTE vice president, did a great job leading the trade and industrial division meetings and policy and planning sessions. It was also a great time to network with existing partners from education and industry. Greg Rintala, YDF member, attended and helped sponsor the conference, and I had good meetings with more than 12 partner companies and at least six more with prospective partners. It’s always important for SkillsUSA to have a strong presence at this annual event of CTE teachers, administrators and business partners.

Webinars Coming in 2013

December 14th, 2012

National OfficersFree national Web conferences are scheduled for 2013. It’s your chance to hear from and communicate with national staff. We’ll provide some training and information on professional development, some updating and motivating advice and tips on being a national leader.

Please join us for one or all of these events and we encourage state leaders and chapters to participate. Invite students, officer teams, key advisors, instructors, alumni and others.

SkillsUSA Week: Prepared with the Skills America Needs – February 5, 2013, 1 p.m (EST)
Use this webinar to help kick off SkillsUSA Week celebrations. Hear from your SkillsUSA leaders on the state of the organization. Listen to what it means to be “Prepared with the Skills America Needs” which is this year’s theme. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

Login: https://www.yourcall.com/webecho/GuestLogin.aspx?ConfRef=46844558&Pin=5892
Passcode: 5892


So You Want to Be a National Officer?
– March 19, 2013, 1 p.m (EST)
Do you have a student you think would make a good national leader? Has he/she wanted to run for a national SkillsUSA office, but wasn’t sure how? Then this webinar is for that student. Our experts will provide an overview of the national officer candidate procedures and national officer responsibilities. They will also get to hear first-hand experience from a current national officer
.

Highlights

September 15th, 2012
  • A big thank you to our state association directors who attended the Professional Development and Training Conference in Rapid City, S.D. Here are just a few more highlights from the conference. Tiffany Sanderson, team leader, Perkins Career and Technical Education in South Dakota – equivalent to the state CTE director – was a featured speaker during the opening dinner. The states held regional meetings before the business meeting and all ran very well. Mark Williams, SkillsUSA’s chief IT consultant, did an outstanding job of demonstrating the conference management system. At least half of the directors attending participated, and Mark did a separate training for new state directors. The Mount Rushmore nighttime lighting ceremony was wonderfully patriotic. Jen Polz, state association director from Minnesota is the new executive committee chair-elect and all of the executive committee did a phenomenal job of running the conference.
  • On August 23, I flew to Chicago to meet with the CEO and executive staff of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) and the CEO and president of ADESA (a leading provider of vehicle remarketing services). Board member, Russ Hoffbauer, made the introduction by inviting the president and vice president of IAA to the conference last June. Needless to say, they were impressed by what they saw. During our meeting, Kaila O’Farrell, national high school vice president, talked about the value of SkillsUSA to students and then Russ Hoffbauer talked about why State Farm is involved in SkillsUSA. I’d say they were both persuasive because both organizations signed up to be SkillsUSA official sponsors effective this year. Executives from each organization met with us in Leesburg on September 11. Thanks go to Russ Hoffbauer for his support.
  • We have 311 people registered to attend the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) and it starts tomorrow. They’ll be representing 27 states and Puerto Rico and 31 state associations. I believe this is the largest WLTI in history. All of the national officers will be attending.
  • Preparations for the Champion of the Year dinner are reaching a feverish pace. An announcement news release went out on September 6, and Snap-on has really stepped up efforts to get coverage during a news conference scheduled at the National Press Club. Staff is following up on the invitations to the administration and Congress. We’ve had good sponsorship responses from the Youth Development Foundation and members of the board, and we’re looking forward to having 100 students and teachers from WLTI join us for the dinner.
  • We’re getting ready to send 13 students and 12 technical delegates from the 2013 SkillsUSA WorldTeam to Brazil for the WorldSkills Americas in mid-November 2012. We sent two contestants to the 2010 WorldSkills Americas competition and found it was a great way to prepare the contestants for international competition and – even more important – to help prepare the technical experts. Thank you to the state associations who are stepping up to support these contestants in their quest for excellence on the world level.

That’s it for now. Until next time, thank you for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

 

Student Officer Team Ready to Roll

August 20th, 2012

A new team of national student officers was here for training from July 19-27, and what a great group of students this is. National officer training is a perennial reminder of what SkillsUSA is really about: recognizing and nurturing the next generation of America’s leaders and champions.

Students participated in training sessions on public speaking, parliamentary procedure, goal setting and team building. All 15 officers participated and grew extensively in their speaking and leadership abilities. They bonded as a team and have set goals for their term in office.

The week of training is a special time. We get to see individuals from diverse backgrounds as they learn about each other and about themselves while becoming a team with a common purpose: to represent their fellow students, SkillsUSA and CTE. The following officers will represent the joint executive council (JEC) this year: Chair – Kaila O’Farrell, Mass.; Vice Chair – Jonathan Garcia, Texas; and, Secretary – Brian Bradley, Ga.

This year’s team looks as though it will be outstanding. To see the group photo of the officer team and their elected offices, please visit: www.skillsusa.org/students/officers.shtml.

Tennessee was the Next Stop on the State Conference “Mega Tour”

May 15th, 2012

I attended a wonderful Tennessee state conference that filled the downtown Chattanooga Convention Center and several satellite sites, April 23-25. The high school and college/postsecondary associations run parallel conferences in the same facility, but hold separate opening banquets and awards ceremonies. On Monday evening, Carol Myers, SkillsUSA Tennessee high school association state director, and corporate member, Sue Tucker, managed a banquet for nearly 1,400 high school participants. The state officer team did a great job running the show. Carl Creasman, college/postsecondary state association director and his officer team hosted an opening banquet the following evening for nearly 500 participants. Board member James King, and national officer, Jeremy Ballentine, were both key parts of the ceremonies. James King certainly had everyone’s attention when he presented a brand new car to the outstanding student of the year.

I keynoted both banquets. Also speaking was Bill Prince, a native of Tennessee, a former national staff member and special advisor to President Reagan. Bill spoke about his participation at the founding of VICA in Nashville in 1965 and the founding of the postsecondary division in 1969. He was truly inspirational. It was also great to hear Danielle Mezera, the new assistant commissioner for CTE, speak at the high school division banquet. I had dinner with her and then toured the Championships floor – a mini national Championships in an exhibit hall – with her the following day. She promised to come to NLSC.

It was great to see Chip Harris at the conference. He is recovering well and promises to be at NLSC to chair the national Quiz Bowl contest. And, a giant thank you goes to Carol Myers and Carl Creasman for the excellent job at this year’s conference.

I also visited Columbus, Ohio for SkillsUSA Ohio’s 60th anniversary state conference. Mike Cowles said it was Ohio’s largest conference ever with 5,000 attending – including 2,200 competitors – and the event takes up the entire Ohio State Fair Grounds. I had lunch and great conversation with Steve Gratz, Ohio state CTE director, and met with Stan Heffner, state superintendent of education. Stan said the SkillsUSA Ohio conference is the “number one event on his calendar every year.”

Ohio had 50 state officer candidates and a huge delegate assembly. The election process was exciting and very intense. Ohio also had a run-off for several national officer candidates. Being elected as a state officer in Ohio is a very prestigious position and one that garners a lot of attention. The current state and national officers on the Ohio stage did a magnificent job of running the show. A big thank you goes out to State Association Director, Mike Cowles, and his management team for their leadership and for such a high quality event.

Working Toward a Nation of High School Graduates

April 15th, 2012

On March 18-21, Chance Litwin, SkillsUSA college/postsecondary national student president, Heidi Ambrose and I attended the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C.

The focus of the conference was the high school dropout challenge. The goal is to achieve 85 percent high school retention in the next decade and 90 percent thereafter. Over 1,100 people attended representing a wide array of businesses, organizations and community groups and there was a long list of illustrious presenters including Alma and Michael Powell (this is an initiative of General Colin Powell and family), George Lucas and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. State Farm was the presenting sponsor of the Summit along with America‘s Promise. Other sponsors included Target, AT&T and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Chance took to the microphone during one of the general sessions to say CTE and SkillsUSA had provided the connections and relationships that kept him in high school which made it possible for him to be a community college student today. He then asked if there should be more emphasis on CTE as a strategy for keeping students in school and to turn lives around. Chance received a big round of applause following his comments.

SkillsUSA at Presidential Address

March 8th, 2012

Yesterday, we had the great opportunity to attend President Obama’s address about American Energy at the Daimler Truck plant in Mt. Holly, N.C. Two students were in attendance with us along with SkillsUSA North Carolina officials and Joan Higginbotham from Lowe’s and Bill Willett from Snap-on.

Obama Speech

President Obama speaks at the Daimler Truck plant.

Both the students actually met President Obama, shook his hand and got to say a few words.  Chance Litwin, our student president for the college division, thanked the President for his support of community colleges and SkillsUSA. Chance attends Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Ala. Lance Atkinson, our state president in North Carolina, also met Obama and was able to thank him.  Peyton Holland, our alumni liaison and college director in N.C., also got to shake the President’s hand.  It was a good day!

SkillsUSA group

From L-R: Glenn Barefoot, Chance Litwin, Joan Higginbotham, Lance Atkinson, Peyton Holland, Bill Willett and Tim Lawrence.

Special thanks to the American Association of Community Colleges for arranging the invitation for SkillsUSA.

CTE Month and Highlights

March 1st, 2012

We just finished CTE Month and we had a lot going on here at SkillsUSA. That includes social media activity during SkillsUSA Week, a new board member, a new staff member and a shout out from the Assistant Secretary of Labor. So, here are some of the highlights during this shortest month of the year.

  • As part of our SkillsUSA Week celebration, February 6-10, we experimented using advertising on Facebook by posting the SkillsUSA public service announcement (PSA) featuring alumna and NASCAR reporter, Wendy Venturini. The ad ran from February 9-12. The campaign reached over 420,000 unique viewers and yielded nearly one million impressions. To view the PSA, go to: www.skillsusa.org/educators/psa.shtml and scroll down to the video window of Wendy. We used the 60-second version.
  • Also during SkillsUSA Week, we heard about lots of activity from around the country as our chapters and state associations were engaged in advocacy and service activities. We were happy to have approximately 100 attendees on our SkillsUSA Week webinar on Tuesday, February 7 and pleased by the special guests, Russ Hoffbauer, both student national presidents and one of our business partners, former board member (and SkillsUSA alumnus), John Hinesley, who gave the keynote speech.
  • I’m pleased to announce that Lowe’s Senior Vice President, Troy Dally, will be joining the board of directors. And, last week, I had my first phone conversation with the new Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation director, and she sounded excited about the partnership with SkillsUSA.
  • Chance Litwin, this year’s SkillsUSA college/postsecondary national student president has been invited to attend the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C., March 18-21. The annual event brings together community groups, educators, local and state leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses and youth to discuss efforts to increase high school graduation rates. The Summit is expected to draw 1,000 people including General Colin Powell and U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Chance was chosen from over 200 student applicants. State Farm is a Premier Sponsor for the Summit.
  • On February 21, Christen Battaglia joined the Office of Business Partnerships and Development to help with our fundraising. We’re very glad to have her with us and know you’ll give her a hearty welcome when you meet her.
  • Here is the latest on SkillsUSA membership. Remember, tomorrow (March 1), is the deadline for not only competitors, but officer candidates and delegates as well. We have 296,490 members entered now and more states have surpassed their total membership last year. Congratulations to the following state associations for exceeding last year’s overall membership. They are California, Clay Mitchell; Connecticut, Heidi Balch; Hawaii, Gilbert Chun; Maryland, Chuck Wallace; Massachusetts, Karen Ward; Mississippi, Andy Sims; New Hampshire, Lynda Demers; New Jersey, Pete Carey; New York high school division, Bruce Potter; Oklahoma, Darren Gibson; Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson; Rhode Island, Josh Klemp; Virginia, Ed Sullivan; and, West Virginia, Paul Lovett. And, a reminder that professional membership and alumni memberships count, so if you have staff, board members, corporate members or others (including yourself), be sure and submit them today. Individuals who are industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join online at the following link: www.skills-register.org/rpts/JoinAsProfessional.aspx.
  • SkillsUSA Champions magazine won a silver award this year in the Association Trends All-Media Contest. Among the judge’s comments: “This submitted issue lives up to the mission statement with excellent and focused content and clean and easy-to-read design elements. This organization has a strong Web presence and a digital version to further enhance its commitment to members.” Congratulations to Tom Hall and the Office of Publications. If you would like to see the winners gallery (including honors to past SkillsUSA publications), please visit: www.associationtrends.com/gallery/?cat=261.
  • Mike Cowles was in Washington on February 7 as part of a delegation from Columbus, Ohio to visit the White House to discuss metro economic revitalization and job creation and how the city can work with small and large businesses to do it. This was one of 40 similar meetings planned by the White House. The delegation included the mayor of Columbus. Mike joined them because of the role of career and technical education in economic development and education. He told me that at one point during the meeting he started to talk about SkillsUSA, and Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates said to the entire delegation: “SkillsUSA is a great organization. If you’re not involved with it already, you need to be.”
  •  We’re putting the final touches on a rigorous selection process for SkillsUSA WorldTeam and we’ll be keeping our state association directors informed right up front on the process and the candidates. We’ve also restructured the management team. I will be serving as the official delegate. Scott Norman from Pittsburg, Kan., is our technical expert. Dave Worden is our assistant technical expert and Heidi Ambrose is the team leader.

* The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) held a conference call the other day to ask the career and technical student organizations to help in the promotion and participation in the administration’s National Education Startup Challenge, an entrepreneurial look at education. SkillsUSA is happy to help. While on the subject of OVAE, President Obama’s 2013 budget flat-funds Perkins at $1.13 billion. One of the three key themes in the budget is “Jobs: aligning job training and education programs with workforce demands.”

* Sales of the Skill Connect Assessments are double what they were last year at this time and sales of ASE automotive assessments – in which SkillsUSA shares – are also way ahead of last year. We’ve been very fortunate to have an assessment expert helping us review the Skill Connect system, providing significant advice on how and where we can make improvements to the system and helping to develop a tool to show teachers the weighting of competencies in the tests. That will be a big help to teachers to prepare their students.

* Finally, there were 700 entries in the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) pin and T-shirt design contest. That’s pretty neat. And, we held our first NLSC staff meeting on Valentine’s Day.

Webinar: So You Want to Be a National Officer?

February 29th, 2012

Do you know a student you think would make a good national leader? Has he or she wanted to run for a national SkillsUSA office but wasn’t sure how?

This webinar features experts who will provide an overview of the national officer candidate procedures and national officer responsibilities. You will also get to hear first-hand experience from a current national officer.

March 14, 2012, 1 p.m. EDT
URL: http://web.ganconference.com/?meeting=8705179
Telephone: 888-222-0475
Attendee code: 5692952

Attention National Officer Candidates

February 1st, 2012

Now is the time to identify national officer candidates for this June. We know there are a lot of great students who can represent the organization well, and we hope they will apply.

National officers receive top-notch training, travel opportunities and many networking experiences. Information for students and candidate forms are posted at: www.skillsusa.org/students/officerapp.shtml.

State association directors with questions can contact Stephanie Bland at 703-737-0622 or by email at: sbland@skillsusa.org. The deadline for application submissions is June 1. If elected, the new national officers must attend training in Lansdowne, Va., July 19-27, 2012.


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