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Summertime is Connection Time

August 1st, 2012

As we wrap up our NLSC each year and then enjoy the July 4 holiday, our next big opportunity comes as summer professional development conferences kick off for our teachers and administrators across the nation. I’ll be participating in three this summer and they offer an opportunity to connect with teachers, state directors, state agency staff, administrators and supporting business partners.

My first summer conference for 2012 was the Georgia Education and Economic Development Summit held in Atlanta, July 15-18. It was interesting to see that our good friend Bill Symonds from the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard was the keynote speaker for the opening plenary.

It was invited to present a workshop on business and industry driven assessments and our Work Force Ready System and Skill Connect assessments fit the bill nicely. My presentation was well received and I got excellent feedback from the schools currently using our assessments as end of pathway exams. I received some excellent comments from teachers, administrators and university faculty and the workshop received consistent rankings of 4 to 5 on a 5-point evaluation scale.

In addition to the assessment presentation, I was kept busy with several other assignments and opportunities. The first was my participation in the commencement ceremonies of the Georgia SkillsUSA University. State Association Director Gayle Silvey and her team did an outstanding job of chapter management training for a packed house of advisors on July 15. I was honored to speak to the group and to present their completion diplomas at the end of the training.

My next step was the TIEGA Awards Luncheon where I brought greetings to nearly 300 of our instructors and administrators. I spent some quality time with our corporate member Carol Burke and learned more about her passion and support for SkillsUSA. At this activity, Gayle Silvey was honored with farewell accolades and gifts from her peers as they wished her well in her new role with the national organization. Incoming state association director and former national officer Ashley Hopkins was introduced and did a great job of orientation for the coming school year. Ashley has completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia and is nearing completion of her Masters in Workforce Development. Although Gayle will be a tough act to follow, I am confident that Ashley will do a tremendous job as our new director in Georgia.

I also spent some quality time with the regional conference and Championships coordinators and discussed the challenges of regional operations. It was a great time of sharing our national perspective on the importance of regional events and discussing new ideas. Georgia high school competitions are held inside technical colleges and this offers not only a neutral competition arena, but a great opportunity for college recruitment and for our high school members to experience a day on campus.

I also attended and spoke at a Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) dinner event to honor construction technology instructors. CEFGA is a major partner of SkillsUSA Georgia. I was also able to spend some time with CTE Director Richard Turner at this activity. He attended NLSC last month as part of the VIP program and he was thoroughly impressed.

The final activity of the conference was the Award and Recognition Brunch on July 18 where I heard State Superintendent Dr. John Barge speak to the full conference of nearly 3,000. John is a staunch supporter of CTE and SkillsUSA. He had just returned from three national meetings, including the meeting of Chief State School Officers in Idaho. His remarks included information about the big nationwide buzz and discussion regarding CTE as a key component of education reform in America. He and Georgia are doing great things in CTE and in SkillsUSA. I believe we can count on continued support from John and the Georgia Department of Education and also have confidence that Georgia’s CTE and SkillsUSA model will be a part of the larger national dialogue on education reform.

I’ll also be attending summer conferences in Minnesota and Washington State.

Highlights

August 1st, 2012
  • Speaking of training, Deb Tripp, our associate director of training, left the national staff on Friday, July 13 to take over the SkillsUSA state association director position in Virginia. We wish her well as the new Virginia state director.
  • Prior to Deb’s departure, we posted the associate director of training position and I am pleased to announce that Niki Clausen has interviewed and been promoted to the position. Niki has come full circle through the SkillsUSA program as a former member, national officer, instructor, advisor, state director and as a member of the national staff for the past two and a half years. In her time with us, Niki has taken our alumni to new heights and we are very proud of her accomplishments. And, as one of our current trainers for students and educators, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. I am confident she will excel in her new role.
  • We are wrapping up final details and inquiries regarding our largest NLSC in history. Paid registration for conference was at all time high of 10, 037. And, there were a record 5,901 contestants, 11 percent of them over the age of 25.
  • We were also thrilled with the large number of business and government VIPs attending this year. Over 300 attended, and we were pleased that one of them, Assistant Secretary of Education Dr. Brenda Dan-Messier, was published in a recent USDOE newsletter: Commenting on the NLSC experience, Dann-Messier said, “I was truly humbled and inspired by the … students who competed in 94 skills competitions …. Equally amazing was the enormous outpouring of support—through voluntarism, cash contributions, state-of-the-art equipment, etc.—from hundreds of teachers, national advisers, and business and industry leaders across this nation. I walked away filled with hope for our nation’s future workforce and prosperity.” Dann-Messier also spoke at the Youth Development Foundation Awards and Recognition Luncheon, before the SkillsUSA corporate meeting, and before the SkillsUSA joint delegate special session.
  • I attended the Construction Industries Institute in Baltimore starting last Sunday through Wednesday with Karmen Ayers, past national officer from Washington State. Karmen was our student representative and speaker at the opening plenary of construction executives. Karmen and I operated a SkillsUSA exhibit booth at this event in cooperation with NCCER. There were great connections with several hundred commercial construction executives at this event.

SkillsUSA Theme

August 1st, 2012

The SkillsUSA competition theme for the 2012-13 year is:

SkillsUSA: Champions at Work
Prepared with the Skills America Needs

The topic to be addressed by contestants in the Chapter Display, Prepared Speech and Promotional Bulletin Board contests is how our slogan, SkillsUSA: Champions at Work, relates to our national program of work in the area of professional development.

Within this topic, contestants might illustrate or discuss any of the following:

  • Based on research from employers, what skills do Americans need?
  • How does SkillsUSA provide the skills needed?
  • How does participation in SkillsUSA provide members an edge in the workforce?
  • How does involvement in SkillsUSA provide a competitive edge to America in the global economy?
  • By participating in SkillsUSA events, how will you be more marketable in the workforce?
  • What do SkillsUSA members need to do to be prepared?
  • What skills have you gained through SkillsUSA that will make you prepared to enter your chosen field?
  • How does SkillsUSA continue to adapt to prepare students with these needed skills?
  • What principles was America founded on and how are those still relevant today?
  • Why do American citizens need to have a variety of skills?
  • How do we establish an attitude of life-long learning through the SkillsUSA programs?

SkillsUSA Championships Medalist Photos

August 1st, 2012

The winners’ photos from the 2012 SkillsUSA Championships are categorized and the captions have been completed. We’ll be happy to send a winners’ photo or photos to anyone who requests it. If you’d like to receive a photo, please email Jane Short at jshort@skillsusa.org.

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.


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