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Kansas City Here We Come!

June 18th, 2014

This afternoon a huge tractor trailer left the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center here in Leesburg headed to Kansas City.  The truck was “loaded to the max” with NLSC programs, office equipment, electronics for registration and the Championships and every file and document imaginable to support our big event.  Some staff is already on site and more leave everyday headed to Kansas City.

This 50th NLSC marks what will be the largest national conference in our history with the largest group ever registered for the conference and the SkillsUSA Championships.  There will be dynamic sessions, lots of learning and growing and thousands of lives changed for the better.

Non-profit organizations like SkillsUSA don’t last 50 years without a dedicated team of hard working people who make great things happen every day.  And I realize, as does the board, staff and foundation, that this event continues to grow and impact more students and teachers for one primary reason – the outstanding work that you provide to your state association.  No student comes to NLSC without the encouragement of that special instructor, dedicated administrator and the leadership of the state director.  We salute you, thank you and look forward to seeing you in just a few short days.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in a few days. Safe travels to all of you and your delegations!

SkillsUSA Championships Contest Updates

May 14th, 2014

We have posted all SkillsUSA Championships contest updates we’ve received on our Web page. To view them, please visit this page and make sure the information gets to the national competitors. There aren’t updates in every contest. If new information is presented about a contest, the information can be critical to a student’s competition.

We’ve requested technical committee chairs complete contest updates by June 1st so the students can prepare. If they do add or change anything after June 1, we have to mail (by first-class mail) the information directly to the competitors. State association directors – please be sure we have competitor home addresses when students are registered for conference. If we don’t have home address information in our records, the information will go to the state association directors to be sent on to the students. After June 1, students should check their mail often.

Major Appliance Scholarship Reminder

May 1st, 2014

The Professional Service Association, in partnership with SkillsUSA, is proud to offer a scholarship opportunity for SkillsUSA members who have competed and placed first in their state association Major Appliance and Refrigeration Technology competition. The scholarship is to provide support for SkillsUSA state contest winners who have insufficient personal, chapter, school or community resources to participate at the 2014 National SkillsUSA Championships.

Two $500 scholarships will be awarded to help offset the costs of travel and to participate in the National SkillsUSA Championships. The award is based on a student-written, one-page narrative describing the student’s financial need for the scholarship including the lack of school or community resources. The student may be nominated with a letter of recommendation written by their advisor, or state director. Applications should be sent to the national office of SkillsUSA for review and determination. They must be received by Monday, June 2, 2014. The national office will notify the winners the following week.

For more information and to apply online, go to https://skillsusa.wufoo.com/forms/major-app-refrigeration-technology-scholarship

 

Executive Director’s Report: April 15, 2014

April 15th, 2014

Recent Board of Directors’ Meeting
The Board of Directors’ meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, March 12-13, went very well. A big thank you goes to Board President James King and Tennessee State Association Director Chelle Travis for their wonderful hospitality, great meals, transportation and meeting space at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology-Nashville (TCAT).

We were very pleased that so many dignitaries from Tennessee state government and education attended the board kick-off dinner. Nissan sponsored the dinner and attendees included Nissan Technical Training Manager Kevin Smith; Chris Tesmer, IRWIN Industrial Tools; Chancellor John Morgan, Vice Chancellor James King, Carol Puryear and Lynn Goodman from the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR); TBR Board Members Danni Varlan and Emily Reynolds; SkillsUSA National Officers (past and present) Tony Hamblin, Jeremy Ballentine and Gildor Simplice; Representative Harry Brooks (House Education Committee Chair) and Senator Jim Tracy (Senate Education Committee Chair); Tennessee State Association Directors Brandon Hudson (high school division) and Chelle Travis (college/postsecondary division); TCAT Nashville Director Mark Lenz; and, Dr. Chip Harris from Tennessee State University’s Center for Career and Technical Education.

Modex Show
On March 18-19, I attended the Modex Show at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. I was asked by the Materials Handling Institute (MHI) to speak during the career and technical education track of the Modex Show. I provided a keynote presentation on the future skilled workforce and how SkillsUSA is a partial solution to the skills gap being experienced by this industry and many others. The show focused on transportation, distribution and logistics occupations. Other speakers were from both the companies that distribute goods (Target, Walmart, Staples, etc.) and those that build the automated equipment to move goods from manufacturing to warehousing to distribution. The entire show floor was an array of automated warehousing and distribution systems, and it demonstrated how high tech this industry has become. My track included several hundred students and teachers who were involved in the transportation, distribution and logistics education cluster.

SkillsUSA Foundation, Inc. Meeting
The SkillsUSA Foundation met in Louisville, March 25-26, and Dave Worden, Carol Lowery, Kelly Persons and I attended. The meeting was hosted by Snap-on Incorporated and Challenger Lifts. Special thanks to long-time Snap-on friends, Alicia Smales and Greg Rintala who filled in for Alicia during this meeting.

After a full-day meeting on Tuesday, March 25th, Foundation members reconvened on Tuesday, March 26th to walk the exhibit floor at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) and help our Business Partnerships and Development (BPD) team kick off the new, volunteer-led, SkillsUSA-Louisville Advisory Council. The Council is made up of a core group of local business, industry and education leaders from Kentucky and Indiana who will help steward the growing partnership between Louisville and SkillsUSA. The purpose of the Council is to help raise local funding, build awareness and secure in-kind materials and volunteers for the 51st – 56th annual National Leadership and Skills Conferences (NLSC) to be held in Louisville.

In addition, Tim, Dave and Kelly toured the Sullivan College of Technology and Design and met with Michael Covington, HVACR Technology Department chair. Three representatives from Sullivan College joined us during the Circle of Champions Breakfast in January and were excited to talk further about how Sullivan instructors, alumni and students might support NLSC as volunteer judges and technical committee members.

More Travel
From Louisville, I flew to Rhode Island to participate and speak at the SkillsUSA Rhode Island State Leadership and Skills Conference Awards Ceremony. Josh Klemp reported a record number of more than 1,800 students, educators and parents attending. And, there were some very special guests in attendance. Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, State Education Board Chair Eva Mancuso and Deputy Education Commissioner David Talbott all spoke to the group and all were very supportive of the SkillsUSA program in Rhode Island. I was privileged to spend time with all three of them and with State CTE Director Vanessa Cooley. It was also great to see several alumni assisting with the event. Gianna Velino (Region I vice president, 2009-10) had a key role in producing the event and Sheila Vasquez (Region I vice president, 2005-06) delivered the keynote. As a national officer and a culinary student, Sheila had received a full tuition scholarship to Johnson & Wales University where she earned her BS degree. She just completed law school at Florida A&M University and will begin work within the next few weeks as prosecuting attorney in Miami-Dade County. She attributes her success to the love of service she acquired through SkillsUSA. With more than 6,000 members, SkillsUSA is the largest student organization in Rhode Island. Congratulations to State Association Director Josh Klemp and his team for an outstanding celebration for our students in Rhode Island.

We have also received word of top-level government officials attending other state conferences. The Governor will be attending the Illinois conference and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction will be attending the California conference.

On Thursday, March 27, I drove to Boston to meet with the SkillsUSA Massachusetts Board of Directors to assist them with strategic planning and financial strategy.

And, on Friday, March 28, Massachusetts State Association Director Karen Ward arranged visits for me and two executives from Dassault Systems to see two of her local SkillsUSA chapters using best practice examples of employability skills integration into STEM education classrooms. The experience provided a good snapshot into how our CTE schools teach STEM and integrate life skills training into the school day through SkillsUSA curriculum and chapter activities. More on these visits next time.

WorldSkills Americas Competition
The WorldSkills Americas Competition concluded on April 5 and the U.S. team has returned from Bogotá, Colombia with two silver medals and a “Best in Nation.” Jake Wozniak (N.Y.) won a silver medal in cabinetmaking and Mike Mullen (Calif.) won a Silver medal in automobile technology and also earned a “Best in Nation” award. There are some great photos on our website at: www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldskillsamerica.shtml.

Highlights

  • On March 15, Kelly Horton and Carol Lowery attended a STEM conference hosted by Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in California. The objectives of the conference were to showcase STEM in automotive and diesel curriculums and to illustrate to teachers how to become intentional about marketing their CTE program as an integrated STEM classroom. Teachers from California, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming attended.
  • UTI will be hosting an “invitation only” event for teachers from across the country at NLSC with the same objectives as above. Plus, SkillsUSA facilitators will illustrate how to integrate SkillsUSA into their CTE classroom using the STEM model showcased in the workshop.
  • Christen Battaglia was in Washington, D.C. on March 18, meeting with HP LIFE (Hewlett Packard) and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). HP LIFE gives entrepreneurs the skills and IT knowledge they need to manage, build and grow successful small businesses.
  • The 2014-15 school year will feature two distinctly separate Membership Kits. One kit will be specific to high school needs and will include resources that a teacher working in a traditional 9th -12th grade environment or a career center will find useful. And, a college/postsecondary kit is being created in direct response to the action plans that were developed by the College/Postsecondary Task Force this past fall. This kit will contain resources and materials that are unique to the nature of a technical or community college. We anticipate that by working to better meet the needs of these two customer markets, they in turn will be able to reach, recruit and engage more members in their chapters.
  • During the recent board of directors meeting in Nashville, Tenn. the board voted to approve the SkillsUSA Middle School Constitution. This move allows the national staff to begin to structure and organize the middle school chapters that are already in existence throughout the nation. Currently, 10 states are serving the middle school market, and this latest advancement will allow the formalization of chapters and the ability for national staff to quantify and serve this membership. Resources and materials for this market will be developed as funding allows.

That’s it for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

Sample Press Release for State Competitions Available Now

April 11th, 2014

A sample template release is on the SkillsUSA advocacy site. It’s a template to be used by state association directors, instructors and others to get the word out to the media and Congress about the students who qualified to compete or won in the state SkillsUSA Championships. The news release can be sent to local news media through the advocacy site, five outlets at a time. It is also possible to send the release to your U.S. Senators and Representatives. The site can be reached by going to http://capwiz.com/skillsusa/home/. We encourage all teachers to use this valuable tool to promote their students and instructional programs.

ACTIVE ADVISOR NEWS April 2014

April 1st, 2014

Update from Tim Lawrence 

Record-setting Membership Year
SkillsUSA is enjoying a record-setting membership year with 309,686 members to date. This number represents the highest level of paid membership in the organization’s history as well as the largest growth in membership since school year 2007-2008. This year, SkillsUSA staff has provided a new and improved membership kit; a new hotline dedicated to answer membership questions; membership registration site enhancements; new educational resources; state association director workshops; and, new advisor toolkits. The following chart shows members served since 2005.

Membership Chart

 

Skills Shortage Support Information
As we look forward to the FY15 Strategic Plan, we developed a new focus on the skilled worker shortage and STEM education. But, we’re not waiting because work in these areas has already begun. At the 2013 NLSC, we had a top executive from The Manpower Group attend as a special guest. Manpower just published the research report from the 2103 Global Talent Shortage Survey. For the seventh year in a row, skilled trades workers represent the number one category of jobs that employers worldwide are finding difficulty filling. And, technicians are, once again, in the top five, coming in at number four in the rank.

As we look at the work of SkillsUSA in helping with these pipeline issues, we also look at the reasons why employers are having difficulty finding the necessary talent: 48 percent of employers cited the lack of technical competencies (hard skills) and 33 percent cited the lack of workplace competencies (soft skills). This data comes from 40,000 employers across 42 countries and territories. Therefore, we believe it’s not much of a stretch to say that SkillsUSA is certainly a part of the solution, particularly when we look at the hard and soft skill needs of these employers. You can see a short video summary of the report data at this link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu0ADHgFeKI and the full report with other interesting facts about the global shortages at this link: www.manpowergroup.us/campaigns/talent-shortage-2013/pdf/2013_Talent_Shortage_Survey_Results_US_lo_0510.pdf.

Applying Skills Internationally in Pursuit of Access to Clean Water
The SkillsUSA Business Partnerships and Development office is working on a project for SkillsUSA to collaborate with the World Plumbing Council to field a multi-disciplined team of three students (plumbers and engineers under the age of 26) to compete at the Water Innovation Challenge in Singapore, June 3 – 5, 2014. The theme of this pilot competition sponsored by WorldSkills Foundation is “new water–ways in which to create and control water supplies in specific international community environments.”

Teams will participate in a series of hands-on design challenges and practical tasks. The competition will take place over three days as the teams develop a series of real and innovative solutions for emerging water and sanitation problems in two developing countries: Nepal and Bangladesh.

The challenge’s impact on developing countries looks promising. Design toolkits created by winning teams during the competition will be made available to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international development organizations to support innovative individual plumbing and sanitation development projects around the world.

Thank you for all you do for the great students we serve.

Work Force Ready System Skill Connect Assessments

Available Assessments
SkillsUSA assessments offers over 40 technical and employability assessments in 10 cluster areas including four co-branded assessments with ASE/AYES and five co-branded assessments with PrintED/GAERF.  For a complete list of assessments and the blueprints that describe the standards, competencies and academic skills tied to each assessment, go to:  www.workforcereadysystem.org/technical_areas.shtml

New User ID Field
An optional User ID field inputted during the creation of the student username account can be used to further identify the student in the grade reports. Student ID’s, district, state or any other identification codes can be used in this field. A maximum of 12 alpha or numeric characters are permitted.

To Order Skill Connect Assessments, go to: www.workforcereadysystem.org , click the link “Order Skill Connect Assessments.” Next, click the button “Buy Now” or the link for step-by-step instructions if you need a visual job aid to help you through the ordering process. Test vouchers are non-refundable and are good for one year from purchase date. Voucher exchanges from one assessment area to another are permitted.

Prepare For Testing
Ensure you read the five-step “Testing Instructions” prior to test day at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/testing.shtml. Information on hardware and software requirements, registration of students, voucher distribution and accessing grade reports can be found here. Additional help on these various steps can be viewed by a webinar. See the archived training webinar “Assessment Ordering and Management Tools” at: http://www.workforcereadysystem.org/webinars.shtml.

Certificates
Printing certificates for students who have met the industry cut-score is easy and can be accessed in the grade book by the authorized administrator or by the student. Click on the Course Status “Completed” to display and print the certificates.

Assessment Support
Please note our new phone number, email address and hours of operation:

Direct: 1-866-444-7779
Email: support@skillconnect.org
Help Desk Support Hours: Mon.- Fri. 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. EDT

2014 Alumni Pin Design Winner
SkillsUSA alumni member, Gayle Brodie, won the 2014 alumni pin design competition. She was a student at Abram Friedman Occupational Center in Los Angeles, where she is now an instructor and SkillsUSA advisor. Her pin design commemorates SkillsUSA?s 50th national conference. This is the only commemorative pin being produced this year and will only be sold at the alumni booth during the national conference.
Alumni Pin

SkillsUSA Champions Magazine
Our Summer 2014 issue will be arriving in the mail later this month. It focuses on enterprising students who are using their skills creatively, from competing in SkillsUSA events to a starting a business. Also featured is a student leader who found in SkillsUSA a way to transition from a long military career into civilian life. And, another story and photos tell how students recovered to compete in our national championships only weeks after a tornado destroyed their projects.

These articles are sure to motivate and inspire. A lesson plan for discussing the issue with your students will be posted online at: www.skillsusa.org/champions/.

Magazine Photo Contest
Please consider sending photos for our “Image” page in SkillsUSA Champions. Students and advisors can submit photos that show SkillsUSA members in action. Photography or graphic arts students may already have projects that are suitable. We currently do not have a photo selected for the Fall 2014 issue. The winning photographer’s chapter will receive a $150 prize check and, of course, the thrill of seeing his or her work in print. For details, email Tom Hall, editor, at thall@skillsusa.org.

Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Scholarship
Through a donation from the Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Fund, SkillsUSA and the McMinn County Vocational Center SkillsUSA Alumni Association are offering a $500 scholarship to a high school SkillsUSA student in memory of Sharon Melton Myers. The Sharon Melton Myers Memorial SkillsUSA Scholarship fund will provide graduating high school SkillsUSA members of this year’s graduating class the opportunity to continue their education in college or technical school.

Candidates can nominate themselves. All nominations must include two letters of recommendation from any of the following individuals: a) instructors; b) SkillsUSA advisors; c) State Association Director; d) Community leader.  A nomination form can be downloaded from SkillsUSA’s website at: https://skillsusa.wufoo.com/forms/r7x1q3/.  Please note that incomplete applications, those missing requested information and appropriate signatures, will be disqualified and not be evaluated. Only high school seniors are eligible for this scholarship. Nominations must be postmarked by April 30. If you have questions, please contact Karen Beatty 703-737-0624, kbeatty@skillsusa.org.

SkillsUSA Official Graduation Regalia
Be sure to recognize the hard work and achievements of your graduates with the gift of official SkillsUSA graduation regalia. SkillsUSA stoles, tassels and honor cords can be purchased now before the rush of graduation season sets in. Just go to: www.skillsusastore.org to order.

Alumni Membership Incentive
The Alumni Coordinating Committee is offering an incentive for SkillsUSA advisors who sign up alumni from their chapters. For every five members an advisor registers with the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association, he or she will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Lowe’s gift card.

To be officially entered into the drawing, the advisor must have students register online at: www.skillsusa.org/supporters/alumni.shtml. Paper forms will not be accepted. The advisor must then send an email to Byekwaso Gilbert at bgilbert@skillsusa.org. The email must contain all of the following:

  • The advisor’s name, school, address, phone and email (make sure what you provide will be accessible to you after June 1)
  • A list (for verification) of the students (first and last names) who registered as alumni

Remember that graduating seniors qualify to register during their senior year. Former SkillsUSA students are also eligible, provided they are not members already. These students must register through their former advisor to be counted as part of that advisor’s entry. Students may only register once. Deadline for entry into the drawing is June 1.

Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Raffle
Thanks to a generous donation by our friends at Harley-Davidson Motor Co., SkillsUSA will be raffling off a Dyna Street Bob Motorcycle at the 2014 National Leadership and Skills Conference Awards Ceremony on Friday, June 27, in Kansas City. The bike will feature a custom paint job incorporating the SkillsUSA 50th anniversary design by Justin Barnes of JB Grafix. The SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association will be the beneficiary of this year’s raffle.

Harley-Davidson Dyna Bob 

Buy your tickets online NOW! You do not need to be present to win. Go to: www.skillsusa.org/store/harley.shtml.

Activate for Chapter Student Leaders
Activate will be held June 21 – 23, 2014, in Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo. The cost is $135 per participant.

Activate is a ground-breaking, two-and-a-half-day leadership conference that will help SkillsUSA members find their “start button” through action-oriented, high-energy and motivational programming. Activate is open to all SkillsUSA members.

During the course of the conference, chapter leaders will discover how to ignite the leader in them and how to maximize their potential. Participants will spend time learning what motivates them and how to motivate others. They will take a look at what it means to present a positive image — and the effects that image can have not only on themselves, but also on their school, SkillsUSA, and career and technical education. Students will complete the course feeling empowered with the necessary tools for success. Visit: www.skillsusa-register.org to register for Activate.

Engage for Chapter Advisors
Engage will be held June 21 – 23, 2014, in Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo. The cost is $135 per participant.

Engage is the teacher training program from SkillsUSA that empowers teachers to grow their chapters. This two-and-one-half-day professional development training conference is designed to help teachers better understand and use the many leadership development materials and interactive resources available through SkillsUSA.

Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, will present a high-energy, interactive and entertaining experience that will leave attendees inspired, motivated and with the practical skills to dramatically increase student engagement.

Engage will focus on new educational resources being launched by SkillsUSA at its national conference. Participants will unpack the new resources and share best practices on how to implement these tools for the greatest impact in their chapters. Teachers participating in Engage will receive a set of all the new resources as a part of the training. Visit: www.skillsusa-register.org to register for Engage.

The Following Items Apply to Advisors and Students Who Will Be Attending the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo., June 23-27, 2014

Alumni Night Out
The national Alumni Coordinating Committee cordially invites college/postsecondary NLSC participants to enjoy a casual night out with alumni members. Join us and see that being an alumni member has fun benefits! Come to PowerPlay Entertainment Center on Thursday, June 26, at 7 p.m. in Shawnee, Kan. This is an 80,000 square foot state-of-the-art fun center with something for everyone. Purchase any dollar amount on your “PowerCard”depending upon your choice of activities. The PowerCard will be sold on site. Transportation will not be provided. The address is PowerPlay South, 13110 W. 62nd Terrace, Shawnee, KS 66216.

50th Conference Commemorative Pin
SkillsUSA’s 50th conference will only happen once, so be sure to get your commemorative pin at the conference this summer. You can purchase this limited edition pin at the alumni association’s booth during SkillsUSA TECHSPO in Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo.

The 2014 Major Appliance and Refrigeration Technology Competitor Scholarship
The Professional Service Association, in partnership with SkillsUSA, is proud to offer a scholarship opportunity for SkillsUSA members who have competed and placed first in their state association Major Appliance and Refrigeration Technology competition.

The scholarship is to provide support for SkillsUSA state contest winners who have insufficient personal, chapter, school or community resources to participate at the 2014 National SkillsUSA Championships. Two $500 scholarships will be awarded to help offset the costs of travel and to participate in the National SkillsUSA Championships.

The award is based on a student-written, one-page narrative describing the student’s financial need for the scholarship including the lack of school or community resources. The student may be nominated with a letter of recommendation written by their advisor, or state director. Applications should be sent to the national office of SkillsUSA for review and determination. They must be received (not postmarked) by Monday, June 2, 2014. The national office will notify the winners the following week.

For more information and to apply online, go to this form. 

Advance College Credit at Park University to Contestants In Selected Competitions
Park University is collaborating with SkillsUSA to provide advance college credit at the 50th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) to contestants for their performance in selected competitions.

Founded in 1875, Park University is a private, non-profit institution fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  The University offers 59 undergraduate degree and certificate programs, which include nine associate degrees, 46 bachelor degrees, and four certificate programs. Annually, the University serves over 22,000 students at our Parkville, Missouri, flagship campus, online, and at campus centers in 21 states.

To see the list of applicable competitions, the selected courses and apply for advance college credit, visit https://app.park.edu/SkillsUSA/form.aspx. The cost per credit hour is $85. If you have questions, please contact Wakisha.Briggs@park.edu or by phone to 816-584-6859.

2014 Major Appliance and Refrigeration Competitor Scholarship

February 28th, 2014

The Professional Service Association, in partnership with SkillsUSA, is proud to offer a scholarship opportunity for SkillsUSA members who have competed and placed first in their state association Major Appliance and Refrigeration Technology competition.

The scholarship is to provide support for SkillsUSA state contest winners who have insufficient personal, chapter, school or community resources to participate at the 2014 National SkillsUSA Championships. Two $500 scholarships will be awarded to help offset the costs of travel and to participate in the National SkillsUSA Championships.

The award is based on a student-written, one-page narrative describing the student’s financial need for the scholarship including the lack of school or community resources. The student may be nominated with a letter of recommendation written by their advisor, or state director. Applications should be sent to the national office of SkillsUSA for review and determination. They must be received by Monday, June 2, 2014. The national office will notify the winners the following week.

For more information and to apply online, go to to this page.

 

ACTIVE ADVISOR NEWS: February 2014

February 1st, 2014

Update from Tim Lawrence

FY 15-16 Strategic Planning
Every year in January, SkillsUSA staff spends a week in strategic planning for the next fiscal year. Staff worked diligently developing the goals, objectives and tactics for the FY 15-16 strategic plan. During this process, we always take a look back as we move forward. Fiscal Year 2013 ended August 31 and there were so many superlatives that we can all be proud of.  Thank you all for making it such an amazing year for SkillsUSA. Here is a short video clip showing a few special moments from 2013:

Meeting of National Coordinating Council
I recently attended the bi-monthly meeting of the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO). Several very important reports were given.

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new Employability Skills Framework and made a presentation to the career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) regarding the content and dissemination strategy. We are very pleased that our employability skills curricula and assessments are in direct alignment with the new framework. The framework is also cross-walked to the Common Core Standards and Common Core Career Technical Standards.You can view the employability skills framework at: http://CTE.ed.gov/employabilityskills/.

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and state CTE directors also announced good news regarding federal funding for CTE. An omnibus bill was released recently and $53 million was reinstated to the Perkins legislation. This is only $5 million short of the funding level prior to sequestration. SkillsUSA and the other CTSOs were commended for the advocacy work to make this funding reinstatement possible.

ACTE announced efforts to position CTE as key to STEM education. Again, this aligns perfectly with our strategy to position SkillsUSA in the same manner. And, we look forward to working with ACTE and other CTE associations in moving the STEM/CTE agenda forward.

There are also other advocacy opportunities on the horizon. On February 18, we will be sending a national student officer to Washington, D.C. to meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier. This will be a listening session called “Youth Voices” to gather student opinion on the U.S. Department of Education’s goals. And, the week of January 19-23, more than 50 students and advisors from SkillsUSA Ohio visited the U.S. Department of Education and provided their input to the new employability skills framework and other department initiatives.

And, finally, a letter has been sent to President Obama and signed by each CTSO national president, requesting an appointment during CTE Month in February. This proposed meeting will allow our student leaders to discuss the importance of CTE and the technical and academic knowledge they are gaining in their training programs, as well as the life skills gained through their student leadership organizations. We are hopeful this meeting will occur. We will also be announcing SkillsUSA Week during the second week of February (9th-15th).

Thank you for all you do for the great students we serve.

Work Force Ready System/Skill Connect Assessments
Available assessments
SkillsUSA assessments offers 42 technical and employability assessments in 10 cluster areas including four co-branded assessments with ASE/AYES and five co-branded assessments with PrintED/GAERF.  For a complete list of assessments and the blueprints that describe the standards, competencies, and academic skills tied to each assessment, go to: www.workforcereadysystem.org/technical_areas.shtml.

Resources to prepare students for testing
SkillsUSA offers free resources to prepare students for testing. See what’s available at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/resources.shtml. New Teacher Preparation Guides are an excellent resource and can be found at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/guides.shtml. Currently, we have 21 guides available for various assessments. We plan to have the final 12 available in the near future!

If you have used one of our guides, please take a short survey to help us determine content for future guides and periodical updates. Provide feedback at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/TeacherPrepGuides.

To order Skill Connect Assessments, go to http://www.workforcereadysystem.org.Log-on to the test platform with your username from last year or click “Don’t have an Account” to create one. Click “Course Catalog”, type the assessment area in the search box and click on the assessment name. Select your quantity and click “add to cart”. Follow the prompts to complete your order.

Enroll students and grade books
Detailed instructions on how to enroll students, distribute voucher tests and how to access the grade report can be found at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/testing.shtml.  Also see our training webinar “”Assessment Ordering and Management Tools” to learn how to access the full line of reports available.

Training Webinars Available
Training webinars on our assessments were held in January and another one is scheduled for March. View the archived webinars for topics; “Teacher Tips for Student Success” and “Meeting Industry Demands” or join us in March for the live webinar “Assessment Ordering and Management Tools”. For a complete schedule and to view the archived webinars go to: www.workforcereadysystem.org/webinars.shtml.

Assessment Support
Please note our new phone number, email address and hours of operation.

Direct: 1-866-444-7779
Email: support@skillconnect.org
Help Desk Support Hours: Mon.- Fri. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. EST

CTE Month and SkillsUSA Week Events and Activities
February is Career and Technical Education Month and February 9-15 is SkillsUSA Week. SkillsUSA Week activities are a great way to highlight the good work your state association and local chapters are doing. For SkillsUSA Week ideas, see the chapter management section on the SkillsUSA website. SkillsUSA offers downloadable public service announcements at: www.skillsusa.org/educators/skillsusaweek.shtml.

SkillsUSA is also launching a video competition during SkillsUSA Week for members to showcase their skills. Here is their opportunity to tell the story that CTE programs are preparing students for the 21st Century. Entries should be between 2-3 minutes in length and uploaded to YouTube by May 1, 2014. For details, go to: www.skillsusa.org/educators/skillsusaweekvid.shtml. If you have questions, email Stephanie Bland at sbland@skillsusa.org.

2014 Lowe’s Grant Winners
The focus for this year’s Lowe’s grant program was to identify schools, classrooms or students who have a basic need to improve the quality of the students’ educational experience. The grant winners have been selected. There were 21 winners and a total of $352,643 grant dollars given. Congratulations go to the following schools:

Arkansas – Dumas New Tech High School; Arizona – Kofa High School; California – Hanford West High School and Weber Technical Institute; Colorado – Woodland Park High School; Florida – Lake Technical Center and Washington-Holmes Technical Center; Georgia – Lanier Charter Career Academy; Illinois – Waubonsie Valley High School; Indiana – Area 31 Career Center; Kentucky – Kentucky Tech-Floyd County Area Technology Center and Millard Area Technology Center; Maine – Tri-County Technical Center; Mississippi – Prentiss County Vocational Technical School; Montana – Dodson Public School; Nebraska – Bryan Senior High; Ohio – Collins Career Center; Oregon – Logos Public Charter School; Pennsylvania – Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center (EWCTC) and Lawrence County Career and Technology Center; and, West Virginia – Mercer County Technical Education Center.

Competition Central
The SkillsUSA Store is here to help your students look their best this conference season. Visit our “Competition Central” section at: www.skillsusastore.org/skillsusa/welcome.asp today to find the full line of SkillsUSA work uniforms, official blazers and wind jackets, along with everything else they need to succeed. And, please reference the official competition uniform chart for photos and descriptions of the uniform components needed for each competition.

Collision Repair Education Foundation Scholarship and Grant Opportunities
High school and college/postsecondary collision repair technology and automotive refinishing students attending career and technical schools and colleges have the opportunity to apply for the over $200,000 in available scholarships and tool grants available through the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) and the organization’s industry supporters.  For more information about the scholarship and grants available, go to www.CollisionEducationFoundation.org.

ACTE National Policy Seminar: March 3-5, 2014
Registration is open for the 2014 ACTE National Policy Seminar (NPS). This year, NPS will feature the latest information from Capitol Hill staff and Members of Congress on the reauthorization of Perkins, as well as ongoing reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Higher Education Act and Workforce Investment Act. For more information, go to: www.acteonline.org.

2014 SkillsUSA University
We are currently accepting proposals from high-quality presenters of innovative, timely and dynamic educational topics to present at the 2014 SkillsUSA University. This year SkillsUSA University is sponsored by 3M. All sessions will take place at the Downtown Marriott Hotel or the Kansas City Convention Center on June 25, 26 and 27.

We ask instructors who would like to present to send emails with proposed topics to Niki Clausen at nclausen@skillsusa.org.

Possible topics: local chapter activities; fundraising; community service; SkillsUSA Program of Work success stories; business etiquette; communication skills for students; local industry partnerships, etc. These can be best practices (with a local advisor presenting) or an expert in the subject area. If you do not want to present, but you have suggestions for workshop topics, please feel free to forward them to us.

The deadline for proposals is February 28. For more information and a Request for Proposal (RFP), go to: www.skillsusa.org/events/skillsuniv.shtml.

National Youth Safety Video Contest Reminder
CareerSafe, Safety Education for America’s Future, is sponsoring the 2013-2014 National Youth Safety Video Contest. Students across the country are challenged to create a two-minute video demonstrating safety in the workplace. The contest kicked off on October 15, and all submissions should be sent into CareerSafe by March 1, 2014. The winning students will receive a SkillsUSA Prize Pack as well as a scholarship up to $2,500, and the winning school will receive a prize up to $5,000. For more information on the contest, please visit the CareerSafe website at: www.careersafeonline.com.

Competition Central

January 31st, 2014

The SkillsUSA Store is here to help your students look their best this conference season. Visit our “Competition Central” section at: www.skillsusastore.org/skillsusa/welcome.asp today to find the full line of SkillsUSA work uniforms, official blazers and wind jackets, along with everything else they need to succeed. And, please reference the official competition uniform chart for photos and descriptions of the uniform components needed for each competition.

Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2014

Happy 2014! On behalf of our national staff, Board of Directors and our wonderful team of national officers, I wish you happiness, good health and a prosperous New Year.

ACTE Convention
I traveled to Las Vegas to attend the annual Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Convention, December 4-7. There were 3,497 in attendance and staff members Marsha Daves, Niki Clausen, Heidi Walsh and I were extremely busy there. National high school vice president Laura Gouillon, a pre-engineering student from California and college/postsecondary president, Leah Rife, a graphic arts student from Colorado, also attended and spoke at various meetings on behalf of SkillsUSA and worked very hard in the SkillsUSA booth at the Career Tech Expo. Both students made us extremely proud.

I participated in two Trade and Industrial Education Division meetings, and Laura Gouillon, Leah Rife and I presented SkillsUSA updates at both sessions. I was involved in a great ASE/NATEF meeting with instructors and administrators, a reception, and a panel discussion with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). SkillsUSA was recognized and commended at both meetings. I also had a very positive lunch meeting with the new CEO and the new Chairman of intelitek. This company provides over a million dollars in robotics and automated manufacturing equipment annually at the SkillsUSA Championships and also hosts both our high school and college employability curricula on their Learning Management System.

On Wednesday evening, I was privileged to attend the ACTE Awards Banquet where board member and SkillsUSA Minnesota Director, Jen Polz, was honored with the ACTE Region 3 Outstanding Educator Award. We are very proud of Jen and this great accomplishment. The keynote speaker at the banquet was U.S. Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan. Jen received her award from Assistant Secretary of Education Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier.

Both staff and national officers met with a number of business partners and prospects at the Career Tech Expo. I had good meetings with Goodheart-Wilcox, Lincoln Electric, Snap-on, Channellock, Autodesk and the U.S. Army, just to name a few. We also met with several companies who expressed serious interest in getting involved. It was also great to spend time with board members Dave Milliken, Peggy Torrens and Jeff Johnson and several state CTE directors.

On Thursday evening, I hosted 28 of our state leaders at a nice dinner at Maggiano’s Restaurant. This dinner was a thank you for state association directors, corporate members and state education department officials. It was great to have Greg Rintala of Snap-on and his wife join us as well as Amelia Mitchell Powers, former national officer, and now a corporate trainer for CAT. Our two national officers also participated and thanked the group for all their support.

On Friday and Saturday, Niki Clausen and Marsha Daves made three SkillsUSA presentations for the ACTE participants. Marsha presented “The Easy Button – Teaching and Assessing Work-Ready Skills and Career-Ready Practices in the CCCS” and Niki Clausen presented great sessions on “Why SkillsUSA.”

WorldSkills Update
We will be sending a small delegation to the WorldSkills Americas competition to be held in Bogota, Columbia, April 1-6, 2014. At this time, we have sponsorship and endorsement to send, at minimum, a cabinetmaker and automotive tech student, their experts and our technical delegate and team leader. We are also working with Canada in an attempt to house both our delegation students and adults in the same hotel for safety and security purposes.

Speaking of Canada, we are in discussion with Skills Canada, and, our two countries are interested in jointly hosting the 2016 WorldSkills General Assembly. We plan to submit a letter of interest in early 2014. The major costs of this meeting are covered by registration fees paid by each member country. Our proposed venue is on the USA/Canada border at Niagara Falls. It’s a world-class destination, and we believe it would be an incredible spot for the WSI General Assembly. We believe this activity would help us continue to ramp up our WorldSkills involvement and international credibility as called for in Vision 2020.

A big thank you goes to SkillsUSA Kentucky, CTE Director Dale Winkler, the State Office of Career and Technical Education (OCTE). Thanks also to Joe Morgan and Fran Dundon for their support. The support from the Kentucky OCTE is invaluable and will help us tremendously as we transition to Louisville.

Planning for the “Circle of Champions” Breakfast in Louisville
December 1-2 were busy with several meetings centered around planning our first business/community outreach in Louisville, Kentucky. Much time was spent developing the agenda, logistical planning and guest list with leaders from Greater Louisville, Inc., the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Kentucky Exposition Center. Afterward, Louisville leadership arranged for me to meet with Mayor Greg Fischer and present how SkillsUSA members will impact the Louisville community with workforce opportunities as we plan toward the 2015 National Leadership & Skills Conference and beyond.

Mayor Fischer agreed to reach out to the Louisville business community on behalf of SkillsUSA. His support is vital to us as we work to develop a business advisory foundation that will support national conference efforts over the next six years.

SkillsUSA created a press release, came up with a short video to share with the Louisville business community and sent out invitations to 1,500 businesses covering the Louisville, Kentucky-Clarksville, Indiana area asking for attendance at the “Circle of Champions” breakfast on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The event will begin with a “circle” of select SkillsUSA students who will demonstrate their skill and leadership areas as our invited guests enter the facility at 8 a.m. A brief presentation will begin at 8:30 a.m. that will include a message from Mayor Greg Fischer and other speakers currently being identified. We are confident this event is the beginning of a strong and fruitful relationship with the Louisville, Kentucky community.

Highlights

  • Kelly Horton attended the SkillsUSA Massachusetts FLC and reported the conference had over 600 members in attendance and was the largest fall conference for the state to date. She facilitated a workshop about engaging students through SkillsUSA’s educational resources, and SkillsUSA Massachusetts purchased enough educational materials so that each participating school would receive a complete set of resources to assist students in their employability skills development.
  • Kelly also reports that her presentation to the state presidents of the New England region of the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) went well. She spoke to them, at the request of Universal Technical Institute, about SkillsUSA and how it helps the student to prepare for the world of work.
  • Gayle Silvey attended the Georgia college/postsecondary FLC and facilitated a membership growth and retention workshop for about 50 instructors. Strategies discussed included ways to reach, recruit and engage college/postsecondary members in SkillsUSA to help them advance their employability skills and careers. Gayle also attended the Tennessee college/postsecondary TLTI where she facilitated three workshops for approximately 60 instructors. These workshops focused on infusing educational resources into classroom instruction, curriculum and chapter meetings.
  • Together, Gayle and Kelly hosted a Strategic Membership Advisory Committee meeting near Dulles Airport, December 10-12. The committee is comprised of senior executive business leaders and educational leaders from the CTE community, and they met to focus on scalable membership growth and development to ensure we reach our Vision 2020 goal of impacting 1 million learners. Board member, Chris Arvin from Caterpillar, and Foundation members Alicia Smales from Snap-on and Larry Teverbaugh from K2Share were among the attendees.
  • The winter 2014 issue of SkillsUSA Champions has been mailed. The electronic version (sponsored by Interstate Batteries Fundraising) is active at: www.skillsusa.org/champions/winter14.shtml.
  • Finally, Karen Beatty reports that the Skills Build America campaign has received $170,000 in corporate and personal donations since it was launched a year ago.

That’s all for now. Happy New Year! Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

 


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