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Highlights

August 15th, 2012
  • Newly-elected board President, James King, paid a visit to the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center on August 8-9. He participated in our monthly staff meeting and NLSC debriefing. He also spent time with individual staff during his time with us. We very much enjoyed his visit.
  • Letters have been faxed to Members of Congress, governors and state CTE directors, along with medalist and Skill Point recipient news releases. They were sent out in record time this year, well in advance of the congressional recess. Staff reports we’ve received many requests from Members for home addresses so they can send letters of commendation.
  • Staff traveled to Snap-on headquarters in Kenosha last week to continue planning for the Champion of the Year Dinner where Snap-on CEO, Nick Pinchuk, will be honored on September 18. And, staff met with Bosch at their Chicago headquarters on August 9 to discuss our partnership moving into the future.

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.

New APEX Awards

July 14th, 2012

The SkillsUSA publications department has won recognition in the annual APEX (Awards for Publication Excellence) program for two SkillsUSA projects in these categories:

  • Member and Customer Communications: 2011-2012 SkillsUSA Membership Kit.
  • Magazines and Journals, Print: SkillsUSA Champions.

APEX awards are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content and the success of the entries in achieving overall communications effectiveness and excellence. For 24 years, APEX has judged and presented these awards to professional communicators. From almost 3,300 total entries this year, only about 30 percent were recognized with awards. Other winners this year include T. Rowe Price, Boy Scouts of America, Kraft Foods, the Walt Disney Co., Ford Motor Co., American Airlines, NFL and American Cancer Society.

Highlights

April 15th, 2012
  • SkillsUSA was invited to help prepare hearings for a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on April 17. The hearing will be about the skills gap and how to address it. Our staff met with committee staff on Monday, April 2, to discuss the overall agenda, suggest additional witnesses from among our partners and what SkillsUSA is doing that can add to the hearings.
  • On the legislative front, staff attended the National Coordinating Council meeting for the student organizations, and according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, Perkins is not likely to be folded in with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and reauthorization of Perkins is more likely in 2015 than next year. In a related development, we also understand that Perkins funds are protected from being folded into a workforce investment fund as originally proposed. NASCTEc worked for the change and reports that Perkins is the only program that cannot be consolidated into the unified workforce plan. And, on March 30, Representative Jim Langevin, co-chair of the bipartisan CTE Caucus presented the 2012 SkillsUSA Rhode Island Outstanding Advisor of the Year award in Cranston. That‘s great visibility for SkillsUSA.
  • On March 27, we had a webinar for state association directors on the expanded curriculum and changes to the officer training seminars held during conference, formerly called State Officer 101/201 and advisor training, but now called Leverage (state officers), Activate (chapter leaders) and Engage (advisor training). Seventeen directors joined the webinar and six more have asked for a reprise. Reaction was positive. There have also been six webinars on the Skill Connect Assessments focusing on general administration of the tests and on building student success with the assessments. And, staff reports that four states are using the assessments as part of their state competitions.
  • We have 46 applications in for the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. The interview and selection process will begin soon. We also got the good news that Festo will sponsor our 2013 Mechatronics Team.
  • Staff reports that the March 23 Chapter Management Institute held here at the national center was attended by 22 teachers from Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
  • And, finally, the succession plan approved by the board last year has been reviewed by a local consultant sent our way by Tim Zilke of ASE. The consultant commended the plan overall and had some suggestions that we’ll implement soon.

CTE Month and Highlights

March 1st, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Highlights

December 30th, 2011
  • SkillsUSA high school and postsecondary membership as of December 27 was up 6,028 over the same date last year at 188,535 members.
  • Staff and I went into Washington on December 7 to meet with executives from Rebuild Together, a non-profit organization that remodels homes for families and communities in need. Another meeting is scheduled for January 5 to see how we can connect their local affiliates and our chapters.
  • Staff members were in Kansas City during the first week of December to work on planning the 24-hour disappearing act for the 2012 SkillsUSA Championships with the Teamsters and others. It normally takes SkillsUSA 48 hours to move out of Bartle Hall but, because the Hall is needed for the Baseball Hall of Fame event, we’ll only have half that time in June. It is a challenge.
  • The staff had its holiday celebration luncheon on December 9. It was like Thanksgiving all over again. It was a fun day.
  • We’re looking forward to a great 2012. Thank you for your leadership and all that you do through SkillsUSA to change lives throughout the year. Happy New Year!

Annual “Week of Excitement” Keeps on Giving

February 1st, 2011

Our strategic planning sessions the week of January 10 went extremely well. Board President Russ Hoffbauer gave the full staff his keynote remarks on Tuesday, January 11, by phone. With a little paraphrasing, he said: “The ultimate aim of planning is results, not activities. That’s one reason why your focus on metrics this year is so exciting. There’s never enough time or resources to do everything, that’s why planning is so important. The board counts on your work.”

With staff recommendations, the directors developed eight macro objectives comprising all of the work of the association – in contrast to the 21 macro objectives we have now – in the five goal areas to help SkillsUSA reach toward Vision 2020. The macro objectives should also be the eight areas we report on to the board and the foundation. All of the departments have now developed objectives and tactics. A preliminary draft of the plan went to the State Association Directors Executive Committee last week.

Honoring National Staff with Seafood and Dr. Seuss

January 15th, 2011

On December 17, we held our annual Holiday Celebration with a bus tour to Washington, D.C. and our Annual Employee Years of Service Recognition Luncheon. Staff and family members boarded the magic bus at 8:30 a.m., and after playing some seasonal trivia games and watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” arrived at the Gaylord Hotel for a quick tour. Then, we walked across the street to the ICE! Experience, a 15,000-square-foot attraction under a huge tent featuring 10 scenes from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It’s big, impressive, colorful and carved out of two million pounds of ice. It’s also cold. The exhibit space is kept at a constant nine degrees. No wonder the staff reminds visitors as they enter the exhibit: “Don’t touch or lick the ice.” After we returned the arctic parkas and walked outside, one staff member said: “Wow, even though it’s below freezing out here, it feels like a spring day after being in there.”

Then, it was back on the bus for the drive to Georgetown Harbor for lunch at Tony and Joe’s Seafood and staff recognition. Of course, one of the things SkillsUSA is well known for is the dedication of its staff and that shows up not only in the quality of their work, but in their tenure as well. This year, we recognized 12 employees with a combined time on staff of 132 years. Four of them – Tom Hall and Ann Schreiber at 25 years each and Keith Ashby and Shelly Coates at 30 years each – accounted for 110 years by themselves. It must be the SkillsUSA mission keeps them all looking so young. It was a wonderful day of celebrating a great national staff.

Highlights

January 15th, 2011
  • Membership as of January 13th stands at more than 202,944 or more than 13,268 over our membership on this date last year.
  • Speaking of membership, the Membership Mega Prize program is gaining sponsorships including the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, N.E.W. Customer Service, Klein Tools, Kobalt Tools and IRWIN tools. For information on the drive to increase our membership through incentives, please go to www.skillsusa.org/join/megaprize.shtml.
  • The report on the State Farm grant is complete, and staff did an extensive job recently reviewing Lowe’s applications for campus improvement and community service grants. To view it online, go to www.skillsusa.org/educators/statefarm.shtml.
  • This year’s national staff charitable donation was to benefit the 27-year old son of a cosmetology teacher at C.S. Monroe Technology Center in Leesburg. The young man has a family, lost his job and his health benefits and is being treated for cancer. The national staff was extremely generous and the donation was genuinely appreciated. A lot of students at the school are also working to raise money for the same cause.
  • Bruce Potter’s official last day with the national staff was Tuesday, December 28 and he has moved on to begin his new job as high school state association director for New York state. We wish him all the best.
  • National staff worked through strategic planning this week. It was our 11th Week of Excitement. We took some different approaches this year, beginning with Vision 2020 and the big picture, and then wrote some macro objectives to which we wrote department strategies, tactics and business plans. It was very exciting. We’ll be making our first report on new objectives to the state association director association officers at the end

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