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Sharing our Journeys

October 15th, 2013

Following the STEM meeting, I flew to Columbus, Ohio and joined state director Mike Cowles and two of his state officers, along with Cole Fallis, national region III vice president, to prepare for a meeting on September 26 with the CEO of Safelite Group. Safelite’s corporate headquarters is in Columbus and the connection to this company was made through IAA and reinforced by State Farm Insurance. Russ Hoffbauer, board member from State Farm also flew to Columbus to be a part of the meeting. Tom Feeney, Safelite CEO and his entire corporate senior staff, hosted the meeting and provided a comprehensive overview of Safelite’s operations, culture, social responsibility agenda and leadership development process. It was a great learning experience for all of us, especially the student leaders. We then provided an overview of SkillsUSA, our programs and leadership model, including a presentation by Mike Cowles about the SkillsUSA Ohio program and a presentation by Russ Hoffbauer on why business supports SkillsUSA. However, the highlight of the day was when Haley Pickett, Tyler McComb and Cole Fallis spoke from the student’s perspective and told their personal stories about how SkillsUSA had made a positive impact on their lives. We will follow up with Safelite and I am confident that we will soon count them as a major partner, both at the national and state levels.

And, I just returned from Seoul, Korea and Louisville, Ky. I’ll elaborate on these trips next time.

Highlights

September 27th, 2013
  • On the advocacy front and use of social media, SkillsUSA posted an alert and a sample letter about federal funding for Perkins on our website before Labor Day. we posted an announcement on September 12 with our followers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr. On Facebook, we used the ACTE infographic on CTE Funding. As of September 26, the links had been shared 64 times and over 6,956 people have seen the post. And, we have the final numbers for government offices reached following national conference with the names of winners. We wrote to 98 U.S. Senators, 289 U.S. Representatives (that’s two-thirds of the House) and 49 governors plus one territorial governor. We’re getting replies from congressional offices, some talking about setting up school visits when they’re back in the districts.
  • A September 11 posting by David Hoey, CEO of WorldSkills International praises the work of Patrick Klarecki, our chief expert in Print Media Technology, and Bruce Kenworthy for winning the Sustainability Award during the WorldSkills competition. The Sustainability Award is a big deal at WorldSkills and we commend Pat and his technical committee for being models of how to reduce waste, reuse and recycle. For further information, go to: http://tinyurl.com/qf8es2r.
  • Staff reported that the new membership hotline that assists teachers in starting a new chapter, discovering ways to engage more members and strategies to strengthen their existing chapters, is enjoying a surge of activity. We’re currently tracking 337 teachers and will continue to provide support to these teachers in anticipation that it will lead to membership registration and a stronger chapter structure. To date, 69 percent of callers are teachers that are currently non-advisors and are learning about SkillsUSA for the first time in their quest to take the lead of an existing chapter or start a new chapter. A large number of callers, 39 percent  in fact, are starting a brand new SkillsUSA chapter.
  •  I’m happy to welcome Joe Morgan of the Kentucky Department of Education as the new chair of the SkillsUSA Championships Executive Committee. Joe will be representing education on the committee and stepping in for the always wonderful Francie Russell. Joe will serve for one year on the YDF committee.
  • On September 13, I took Mega Prize winner Mike Benton and his wife on a tour of the Capitol before we went to a Washington Nationals baseball game. The day began with a reception with all of the national staff and a tour of the national headquarters. I can say confidently that Mike and his wife had a wonderful time, thanks in part to our mega prize sponsor, N.E.W.

Highlights

August 29th, 2013
  • I’ve met twice with a local management consultant – and another meeting is scheduled for early in September – to discuss creation of a human resources plan. We’ll begin by conducting an analysis of SkillsUSA’s structure and processes, including staffing and staff succession, so we know we are appropriately aligned to meet the goals in Vision 2020.
  • We held a staff meeting on August 6 and the chief topic was the 2013 National Leadership and Skills Conference. Small cross-departmental teams reviewed the national conference and offered up their five best superlatives and five major challenges. Among the superlatives: excellent general sessions, particularly the quality of the speakers; good news media coverage; the registration process went well with improvements implemented during the past two years; addition of TAG Tuesday for delegates; and YDF Breakfast and Challenge Fund. We also did some brainstorming for the 50th anniversary celebration.
  • The Challenge Fund held during conference raised $140,000 from corporate and individual contributions. All monies were dedicated to the Skills Build America Campaign.
  • We’re finding SkillsUSA appearing more frequently in papers and books focusing on skill gaps and worker shortages. One of the most recent is in the book The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America’s Future. The central thesis by author Gary Beach is that the widening “skills gap” in math and science is a threat to America’s future, and business should get involved. The very first example of a public-private partnership — in the chapter entitled “Let’s Build Some Arks” — is SkillsUSA, 1965. He wrote in the chapter: “Do your homework and learn more about CTE.” Beach called our offices last week to say “SkillsUSA was way ahead of the game.”
  • SkillsUSA will be featured in a nationwide PBS broadcast entitled “American Graduate Day” on Saturday September 28. The program is about community organizations that are successful in preventing dropouts. SkillsUSA will be both an example of a community organization and of CTE. We have been compiling stories of students who stayed in school and have gone on to greater things thanks to SkillsUSA, their instructors and others. There will be much more to tell in the coming weeks.
  • Bob Baird of the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), chair of our Industrial Motor Control contest and long-time friend of SkillsUSA, came to visit on August 7 to discuss ways IEC and SkillsUSA can support each other at local, state and national levels. Support from IEC would include work by its chapters in training, contests, and advocacy. We also spoke of possible support from some of IEC’s corporate members. Bob expressed interest in the Professional Development Program as a curriculum for apprentices.
  • I attended a meeting between youth organizations and the Army at Ft. Myer to discuss the Army’s SAY Program (Strengthening America’s Youth) The Army involved us in a discussion of STEM education and recruiting the best youth with technical skills into the military. I suggested, and it was well received, that the Army give preference through rank and pay to students who come to them with technical and leadership credentials such as being a SkillsUSA officer or a leader in another student organization. The dialogue continued the following day when the representatives of the Army visited our office to discuss our 2014 partnership.
  • Jacob Wozniak of Springville, New York won the qualifying trial in Cabinetmaking for a spot on the 2015 SkillsUSA WorldTeam. Jacob will compete in Sao Paulo, Brazil in August 2015. He is a graduate of the Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES program and he won the 2012 high school Gold medal in Cabinetmaking. Jacob competed against Caleb Floyd, the 2012 high school Silver medalist from Kathleen, Ga. and Warner-Robins High School, and Brett Sidesinger of Topeka, Kan. and Washburn Tech, who was the highest scoring age-eligible contestant from the 2013 Cabinetmaking contest. The Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial was conducted at the biennial AWFS Fair in late July at the Las Vegas Convention Center, thanks to the generous in-kind sponsorship of the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS).  WorldTeam Cabinetmaking technical expert Rob Tobias of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, PA, served as the chief judge.
  • I recently received a note from Daniel Berrios, our 2013 WorldSkills Cabinetmaking competitor about his experience in Germany. “The WorldSkills competition was one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I have ever had. It felt like the Olympics. The mixture of cultures, languages, and people really brought about a sense of unity and equality among all competitors. The confusion and excitement are hard to put into words, but in the end it was all about a good friendly competition; no politics nor boarders, just people doing what they love to do with a focus on winning a medal. The competition itself was intense, and the cabinet was one of the most difficult projects I had ever done, with lots of complex angles, cuts, and joints all while thousands of people watched my every move. Every cut had to be perfect and nothing less would suffice, although, I do admit I did make a few mistakes on my cabinet. But, I have no regrets on how I built my project, and if I had the opportunity again, I would do it in a heartbeat.”
  • Speaking of quotes, here’s an excerpt from an email by Judy Rambert of Pivot Point, a long-time supporter of SkillsUSA and the WorldTeam. She wrote after listening to my remarks during the recent Congressional Roundtable: “I sat listening to your speech on Capitol Hill tonight, and it reminded me why Pivot Point cherishes our involvement with SkillsUSA. Your message captured our commitment to the youth of our profession. Students involved in SkillsUSA chapters have superb statistics of completing their education. You all must be so proud!”
  • And, the Best of Brand Awards were presented during the state directors’ conference in South Portland, Maine. Congratulations go to Best of Innovation: Advocacy – Tennessee college/postsecondary; Best of Innovation: Membership Growth and Engagement – Michigan; Best of Brand: Print – Wisconsin; Best of Brand: Multi-media – Arizona; and, Best of Brand: Website – Oregon.

Highlights

August 1st, 2013
  • Welcome to our new members of the board of directors: Dale Derrickson, Region 1; Jennifer Polz, state directors’ association chair; Laurie Hackett, Youth Development Foundation Committee chair; and, Mike deCastro of Air Products (fulfilling Joe Pientrantonio’s term). Congratulations to the officers: James King, president; Brent Kindred, vice president; and, Chris Arvin, secretary. And, thank you for your service and leadership to: Mike Cowles, state directors’ association chair; Gerry Tylka, Region 1; and, Dave Camden, Youth Development Foundation chair.
  • While it’s not news about the national organization, I believe it’s good to share examples of what excellent and far-reaching work our state associations do. Here’s a story about the recent “Paint the Town” community service activity involving 250 students and teachers from 40 schools in Ohio. The intern reporter might need an editor but, I believe, he captured the spirit of the event here.
  • On July 23rd, I spoke on Capitol Hill to a round table of representatives from nearly 30 congressional offices — members of the CTE Congressional Caucus — about SkillsUSA as a CTSO and ways we help students transition from high school to college and work. The student national officers have just been here for nine days of training. And, we’ve established dates for the board meetings. The fall meetings will be Web conferences on November 19 for standing committees and November 20 for the full board. The spring meeting will be March 12-13 at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, Nashville. The summer board meeting during conference will move back to Tuesday, June 24 and the Corporation meeting will be on Wednesday, June 25.

Conference Countdown

June 15th, 2013

As we prepare for the largest national conference in SkillsUSA’s history, we have a busy staff at headquarters focused on all the details that will make it a successful conference too. There are a myriad of projects being completed from the printed programs and other materials, to the scripts, agendas, VIP schedules, reviews of equipment and facilities, packing and arrangements for transportation. I could never draw up a complete list of the tasks that have to be done. This is a time of year when I reflect that SkillsUSA is fortunate to have a staff and volunteers who have everything covered. Conference registration is at a record high of 10,002 and SkillsUSA University will offer 69 sessions. The competitors number is nearly 6,000 … 5,927 to be exact.

“TAG Tuesday” (Train-Act-Grow), is a series of leadership activities to be held for delegates during national conference. In the morning, there will be workshops for high school chapter leaders and high school state officers and there will be separate workshops for college/postsecondary delegates on networking with business. The afternoon will offer experiential sessions for the high school delegates and one-on-one interviews with business representatives for the college/postsecondary delegates.

Following up on another introduction from Board member Russ Hoffbauer, Enterprise Holdings, Inc. — holding several car rental companies — is supporting national officer travel to the national conference this year with a $10,000 donation and is providing 11 vehicles for use during conference.

Youth Development Foundation Committee Meeting

May 15th, 2013

On April 16-17, the SkillsUSA Youth Development Foundation (YDF) met at the National Leadership Center. The meeting was very well attended and was one of the most interactive on record. The meeting started with a review of the FY14 strategic plan. Chairman Dave Camden and our Business Partnerships and Development staff then led the Foundation through a series of exercises to help SkillsUSA with strategy to move our partnerships efforts forward. Specifically, the committee broke into three working groups to address the topics of events and point of entry for new partners; fundraising for the transition to Louisville; and, partner development. Each subcommittee will be chaired by a YDF Committee member with regular meetings and reports taking place throughout the year. Every YDF member was engaged, and I believe we have a great beginning with new ideas and strategies in place for the future. Dave Camden has now retired from Toyota and this was his final YDF meeting. We are pleased and excited that Laurie Hackett of Air Products will be assuming the position of YDF chair.

 

SkillsUSA Board of Directors Meets in North Carolina

April 1st, 2013

The SkillsUSA board of directors met on March 12-13 in Huntersville, N.C. The meeting was hosted by IRWIN at their corporate offices and Learning and Development Center. IRWIN kicked off the board meeting with dinner at the Peninsula Club on Lake Norman and Rich Wuerthele, president of IRWIN, spoke to the group and brought the official welcome. Six IRWIN staff members participated in the evening event, including our host and board member, Nick Mastrone and YDF member Cheryl Mehrmann.

The morning of March 13 began with an overview of the Newell Rubbermaid family of brands by Rich and an overview of the IRWIN operations and workforce awareness programs by Nick. The board then toured the Learning and Development Center and learned how product research, development and testing are performed on a variety of products. Our main tour guide, Doug Nelson, IRWIN’s senior prototype manager, told us at the beginning of the tour that he was a SkillsUSA member back when it was VICA and he is still involved assisting with SkillsUSA competitions. It’s always great to see success in former members.

The board’s business meeting was March 14 and we were pleased that Peyton Holland, N.C., college/postsecondary state association director joined us for the day. A big thank-you goes to Nick Mastrone and the entire IRWIN team for their incredible hospitality and for a high quality experience for the board and staff at their corporate offices.

Highlights

April 1st, 2013
  • Staff made development visits in Texas on Monday, March 11. First stop was at Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway in Ft. Worth. BNSF Railway operates more than 1,000 trains a day on one of the largest freight rail transportation networks in North America. BNSF will have an outdoor display at SkillsUSA TECHSPO. The second visit was with The Dwyer Group in Waco where they discussed women in the trades scholarships for our students. The Dwyer Group offers franchise business opportunities including Air Serv, Mr. Appliance, Mr. Rooter, Mr. Electric, Rainbow International, The Grounds Guys and Glass Doctor.
  • Staff traveled to Reno, Nev. with associates from the Ringenburg Group to conduct the last of four high school and college/postsecondary focus group sessions. The research was conducted with teachers and students of both membership levels. Staff facilitated educational resource and skill development training for the participants when they were not in the focus group meetings. A report compiling the focus group findings will be provided to the SkillsUSA marketing team in May and will be used to direct the membership and marketing plan for the organization.
  • Speaking of alumni success stories. Staff reports that the summer issue of SkillsUSA Champions magazine will feature a former SkillsUSA member who is now a successful food stylist for a major home shopping network.
  • On March 14-15  I travelled to Louisville, Ky., where we met with executives from Ford Motor Company and General Electric. We also met with the new president of the Kentucky State Fair Board and toured some potential storage facilities. We also met with staff at the Kentucky Department of Education, including Fran Dundon and new state association director, Larry Johnson.

Partnership with Gates Corporation Education Reminder

March 29th, 2013

Gates logoSkillsUSA is excited to announce a new partnership with Gates Corporation Education. Their “Tools for Schools” program is a great opportunity for SkillsUSA’s automotive teachers.

The purpose of the “Tools for Schools” program is to provide educators with supplemental educational materials from a global company. Gates assists many of the Original Equipment Manufacturers with their research and development and through this program new products and systems are designed and problems solved. Technology is changing so quickly that it can take years for the latest information to reach you and your students. The “Tools for Schools” program is one way Gates can ensure the latest technology and information are available to you 24/7 simply by accessing their website. Gates hopes you make their site a daily part of your learning curriculum and visit often.

The “Tools for Schools” program is made up of three components: (1) “Tools for Schools” website where all elements of the program can be found; (2) “Tools for Schools” Performance Center eLearning for your students contains a wealth of informative content and tests each student’s ability to retain and understand via an exclusive training quiz found at the end of each segment; and, (3) “Tools for Schools” “Free” tool program. A program designed to reward the school for using the eLearning tool and using Gates products. Schools can earn Gates diagnostic and installation tools by accumulating points based on program participation.

Websites for this Program

Tools for Schools Webpage for the Educator (only): www.gates.com/education

Gates Performance Center for Students: http://gatesaftermarkettrainingcenter.com

For more information, please contact: Bobby Bassett, manager, Training Automotive Aftermarket, Gates Corporation, cell 601-954-4152, email rbassett@gates.com.

Spring Conference in Mississippi

March 15th, 2013

On February 26-27, I attended the Mississippi spring conference in Jackson. There were 200 more registrants this year with 1,500 attending overall. Competitions were held in several locations around town, but one of the most impressive venues was the Trademart where the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation (MCEF) administered all of the construction contests. The MCEF used the event as a centerpiece for a full-day seminar called “Pathways to Success” conducted for 130 administrators and guidance counselors from around the state. The audience heard a lot about the importance of CTE and construction careers, and I had the opportunity to tell them about SkillsUSA. State Senator Philip Moran also attended, and I received considerable interest from the regional sales manager of Makita, U.S.A.

Congratulations to Andy Sims, Mississippi state association director for a successful conference and thanks to Jean Massey, state CTE director, for her strong support of SkillsUSA.

On Thursday, February 28, I flew to St. Louis to meet with executives of Enterprise Holdings, parent company of Enterprise, Alamo and National car rental companies. This was another corporate connection made by board member Russ Hoffbauer. Russ, national officer Sergio Cavazos and I met with the head of the foundation, two vice presidents, three assistant vice presidents and a director. When the CEO met with us at one point, he said “I see you’ve got the Enterprise A team.” That was nice to hear.

Russ covered the reasons why business is involved with SkillsUSA, and Sergio did a beautiful job talking about the effect SkillsUSA has had on him, his school and his community. It was easy to see the executives were thoroughly impressed, and they said they want Enterprise to get involved as a partner at the local level and, perhaps, at national conference. They also expressed interest in our customer service competition and assessments.


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