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National Conference Still Changing Lives

July 15th, 2012

The National Leadership and Skills Conference is always an exciting—transforming—experience involving 15,000 of our closest friends. It’s also humbling to realize how much our collective work affects lives. Many teachers said to me and to staff: “Thank you for what you do for our students.”

Of course, that includes you. By way of example, board member Greg Rintala forwarded an email he received from Tina Oswald-White of mikeroweWORKS Foundation with an attached thank-you note from a student who received a mikeroweWORKS travel scholarship. The email commended the board members “who work so hard behind the scenes . . . and do so much not only for the organization but for the students and our future workforce.” The student’s note said in part “[This experience] opened my eyes to how much potential I have in the world, something I have never seen before.”

I wish everyone could have heard the Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates say during the Special Guest Breakfast on Tuesday, “Scholarships and internships are wonderful for individuals. Support for SkillsUSA is an investment in capacity building for the American workforce.”

All of our special guests including Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of Education Brenda Dann-Messier, Bill Symonds of the Harvard Pathways to Prosperity Project and many more were all amazed by the conference. As one of our first-time guests said to me, “If Secretary of Education Arne Duncan could see this, he’d stop talking about ‘islands of excellence’ in CTE.”

I’m not even going to start recounting all of the corporate executives in attendance, but it was delightful to have the top executives from two of our best sponsors attending the conference together, Jim Lentz of Toyota and Nick Pinchuk of Snap-on. I understand each had a marvelous time and I know Jim was in the news more than once. Here’s one TV clip including Jim – http://fox4kc.com/2012/06/26/students-showing-off-talents-at-skillsusa-competition/.

Speaking of news, the early report on coverage in the Kansas City area media includes 79 separate stories and that doesn’t even include stories that are coming in on area winners. For the first time ever this year, we had three of the four TV networks covering the Championships live simultaneously and multiple times on Tuesday morning. There were 24 stories on Tuesday alone. Several years ago, we asked the Convention and Visitors Association what other Kansas City convention SkillsUSA should use as a benchmark for news coverage. The answer was “SkillsUSA is the benchmark. No organization gets the coverage you get.” We’re also picking up national coverage.

Sample Press Release for NLSC Competitors and Participants Reminder

July 12th, 2012

A sample press release has been added to SkillsUSA’s advocacy site. It’s a template to be used by state association directors, instructors, parents and others to help get the word out to the media about the students who competed or participated in some other way (i.e., as a delegate, Courtesy Corps member, etc.) during the National Leadership and Skills Conference.

The press release can be sent to five media outlets at a time through the advocacy site.

Be sure to spread the word about this valuable tool.

Thank you for a successful conference!

July 2nd, 2012

Just a quick note to thank all involved for another record-breaking National Leadership and Skills Conference. I’m grateful for each of you for helping make the 2012 NLSC one to be remembered and one that truly changed lives for the better.

If you are looking for the listing of medalists or if you’re a competitor and need your score, visit: www.skillsusa.org/compete/results.shtml.

A couple of notes about contest scores, you need your contestant number and your date of birth to access your score. If you don’t know your contestant number, contact your state association director. Also, in some cases, the person who registered the student has put an incorrect birth date in the system. If you can’t access your score with your contestant number and birth date, click here to get help.

Finally, if you are a medalist and would like to get a copy of your photo taken backstage, download this form to request that photo.

SkillsUSA Championships

June 26th, 2012

Today, nearly 6,000 competitors will compete in 94 contests in Bartle Hall, its Conference Center, Municipal Auditorium, American Royal Center and the downtown Marriott and Phillips hotels. It’s truly an awe-inspiring event.

Also today, TECHSPO will have its final day of exhibits and SkillsUSA University will continue. The delegate meetings are going on with primary ballots being cast for our new national officers.

This evening, be sure and join us for SkillsUSA night. This year, conference attendees will have two choices for the evening: Worlds of Fun or Kauffman Stadium with the Kansas City Royals.

Pre-conference Hyper-Drive

June 15th, 2012

We’re on the road toward another great conference. On June 6, the Teamsters started moving equipment for the Championships out of storage. The postal carts we use to load supplies for the national office are in our office hallways, and the truck will be leaving for Kansas City on Monday, June 18.

Here are some of the numbers:

  • 9,905 paid registration. A record
  • 5,948 contestants. Another record
  • More than 350 industry and education guests
  • 1,414 volunteers including 163 in the Courtesy Corps
  • 35 high school and college/postsecondary national officer candidates
  • 125 alumni will be attending including 39 former national officers. The most ever to pre-register
  • 100 more people are registered for Leverage, Activate and Engage over last year’s Officer 101/201 and advisors’ conference, a new record and,
  • 300 more tickets have been sold for the Harley-Davidson motorcycle raffle than last year

Special Guests attending conference include Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary of Education (OVAE), Sharon Miller, OVAE, Jane Oates, assistant secretary of Labor (ETA), Simon Bartley, president of WorldSkills International, and Bill Symonds, director of Harvard’s Pathways to Prosperity Project. We will also have 17 Harley-Davidson executives joining us, large groups from State Farm, Caterpillar, IRWIN, NCCER, Snap-on and others.

We will have two ads in the Kansas City Star – one on Thursday, June 21 and a half page on Sunday, June 24, saying thanks for moving the conference to accommodate the All-Star Game.

 

Assistance for Shipping of Contest Awards

June 15th, 2012

We have secured assistance for Wednesday night to help those contest medal winners who receive heavy, bulky or a lot of industry awards. There will be a designated UPS shipping area at Kemper Arena and it will be announced to the state directors on Saturday, June 23rd. The advisors, or designated state representatives, can meet the medal winners at that UPS location to assist.

SkillsUSA is working with the UPS Store at 4741 Central, Kansas City, MO 64112. The store is located at the Country Club Plaza at the corner of Central and Ward Parkway. Telephone: 816-561-3226. Their email is store4249@theupsstore.com. They will accept credit cards, checks and cash as payment. Please pass the word to your advisors.

Meetings with NCCER – Back in Gator Country

June 1st, 2012

Following three days in the office, I was back on a plane to Jacksonville, Fla. for the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) Board of Trustees meeting, May 8-11. On the evening of May 8, NCCER CEO Don Whyte, Board President Bob Parker, the board and over 100 special guests attended the dedication of NCCER’s new national headquarters building outside of Gainesville. It is an impressive facility and it was dedicated “to the men and women who build the world.” The main entrance to the building is accented with brick pavers that honor the companies and individuals who contributed to the building campaign. The SkillsUSA logo appears on two of the bricks. One is for the donation from and me and another staff member. The second is for the donation from Boyd Warsham, chairman of our National Carpentry Contest Technical Committee, former state carpentry competitor and SkillsUSA alumnus. Boyd is also the senior vice president of the Haskell Company, a major industrial construction company and the builder of the NCCER headquarters.

William Symonds from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and project director at the influential Pathways to Prosperity Project was one of the keynote speakers at the dedication. I had a long conversation with Symonds and he knows SkillsUSA very well. He told me his son’s life had been changed when he enrolled in a culinary program in Massachusetts and when he competed in the Massachusetts SkillsUSA Championships. During his speech, he spoke passionately about the need for CTE as a major element of education reform in the USA. He also announced that Harvard will convene a National Pathways to Prosperity Conference following the presidential election. He extended a personal invitation to me to participate. This is a discussion that SkillsUSA needs to be part of and I’m thrilled that we will be there.

I was appointed to another three-year term on the board of trustees during the board meeting the following day. Other board action included discussion of a new international outreach initiative in training, curriculum and assessments and a new marketing campaign, “Build Your Future,” to get youth excited about careers in construction.

NLSC Travel Scholarships Announced

May 14th, 2012

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation, in partnership with SkillsUSA, is proud to announce a new scholarship opportunity for SkillsUSA members who have competed and placed first in their state association competition. Get the details here: www.skillsusa.org/supporters/mikerowe2.shtml. A total of 50 $1,000 scholarships will be awarded. The application deadline is June 1.

SkillsUSA Championships Contest Updates

May 12th, 2012

We have posted many SkillsUSA Championships contest updates on our Web page. To view them, please visit: www.skillsusa.org/compete/updates.shtml and make sure the information gets to the national competitors.

There aren’t updates in every contest; just in some. If new information is presented about a contest, the information can be critical to a student’s competition. We request 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.

If we don’t have a competitor’s home address in our records, the information will go to the state association director to be sent to the students. After June 1, please make all students should check their mail for any contest update information.

Highlights

May 1st, 2012

On April 2, SkillsUSA briefed staff of a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee subcommittee preparing for hearings to discuss ways to address the skills gap. Staff was particularly interested in things done by and with our partners, such as the CAT ThinkBig program. The staff also appreciated our helping them to secure potential witnesses from among our sponsors. One of the witnesses on April 17 was from the American Welding Society.

More in the “it’s nice to be asked”category. Staff and I had a conference call with the Boston Consulting Group on Monday. The Group is working with Harvard Business School on the topic of U.S. competitiveness. The goal of the project is to identify a set of actions that companies can take to improve competitiveness, and they thought SkillsUSA would be a good source. We were also called for an interview on the increasing popularity of “trade schools” by “Fox Business.” (We can’t correct everything in the news.) Here is the link to the story: www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/04/06/going-to-trade-school-should-do-it. And, staff member Eric Gearhart and Bob Skodzinsky of Haas Technical Education Center Network were the primary sources for a tremendous three-page feature article entitled “Student Journey: From SkillsUSA to WorldSkills”printed in the March 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering published by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The article really ties together the need for skilled workers, SkillsUSA, the Championships and the WorldTeam.

During the first week of April, we signed an agreement to coordinate where we can with Rebuilding Together (formerly known as “Christmas in April”), an organization dedicated to renovating homes owned by the poor and elderly. They do 10,000 projects every year. We’ll encourage our members and partners to work with Rebuilding Together and serve on their local affiliate boards. For their part, they have several major partners and several excellent visibility opportunities every year, including the Super Bowl.

Skill Connect assessment sales are brisk. SkillsUSA University has 75 classes confirmed and eight more pending. We have a record number of President’s Volunteer Service Award winners with 122 individual awards representing 34,251 hours of service and 11 team awards totaling 19,097 service hours.


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