April 1st, 2013
The SkillsUSA board of directors met on March 12-13 in Huntersville, N.C. The meeting was hosted by IRWIN at their corporate offices and Learning and Development Center. IRWIN kicked off the board meeting with dinner at the Peninsula Club on Lake Norman and Rich Wuerthele, president of IRWIN, spoke to the group and brought the official welcome. Six IRWIN staff members participated in the evening event, including our host and board member, Nick Mastrone and YDF member Cheryl Mehrmann.
The morning of March 13 began with an overview of the Newell Rubbermaid family of brands by Rich and an overview of the IRWIN operations and workforce awareness programs by Nick. The board then toured the Learning and Development Center and learned how product research, development and testing are performed on a variety of products. Our main tour guide, Doug Nelson, IRWIN’s senior prototype manager, told us at the beginning of the tour that he was a SkillsUSA member back when it was VICA and he is still involved assisting with SkillsUSA competitions. It’s always great to see success in former members.
The board’s business meeting was March 14 and we were pleased that Peyton Holland, N.C., college/postsecondary state association director joined us for the day. A big thank-you goes to Nick Mastrone and the entire IRWIN team for their incredible hospitality and for a high quality experience for the board and staff at their corporate offices.
February 14th, 2013
Mike Cowles chaired the annual meeting of the State Association Directors’ Executive Committee, January 23-26. I was joined by several staff members. The committee devoted much of its agenda to planning the state directors’ summer conference to be held this year in Portland, Maine. We also had a frank discussion on both this year’s national conference registration fee increase and about states signing up under the national liability insurance policy.
We received good feedback on the first draft of the FY14 strategic plan. They were enthusiastic about proposals for outreach such as a monthly e-newsletter to school administrators. They also strongly supported our working to engage with state departments of education to make SkillsUSA a priority. They want us to emphasize the importance of training advisors in chapter management when we meet with departments of education and state CTE directors. There was also a great deal of interest in cross-walking SkillsUSA curriculum to the Common Core Standards. They specifically recommended an instructor guide on how the Professional Development Program can reinforce teaching the Common Core. Speaking of core, they recommended that SkillsUSA develop an easily understood framework that helps teachers deliver the SkillsUSA core program that creates student success. They were enthusiastic about the Skills Build America individual giving campaign saying they want to be more involved and do more to promote it at the state level.
Thanks go to all involved and particularly for the chair leadership of Ohio state association director, Mike Cowles.
September 15th, 2012
- A big thank you to our state association directors who attended the Professional Development and Training Conference in Rapid City, S.D. Here are just a few more highlights from the conference. Tiffany Sanderson, team leader, Perkins Career and Technical Education in South Dakota – equivalent to the state CTE director – was a featured speaker during the opening dinner. The states held regional meetings before the business meeting and all ran very well. Mark Williams, SkillsUSA’s chief IT consultant, did an outstanding job of demonstrating the conference management system. At least half of the directors attending participated, and Mark did a separate training for new state directors. The Mount Rushmore nighttime lighting ceremony was wonderfully patriotic. Jen Polz, state association director from Minnesota is the new executive committee chair-elect and all of the executive committee did a phenomenal job of running the conference.
- On August 23, I flew to Chicago to meet with the CEO and executive staff of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) and the CEO and president of ADESA (a leading provider of vehicle remarketing services). Board member, Russ Hoffbauer, made the introduction by inviting the president and vice president of IAA to the conference last June. Needless to say, they were impressed by what they saw. During our meeting, Kaila O’Farrell, national high school vice president, talked about the value of SkillsUSA to students and then Russ Hoffbauer talked about why State Farm is involved in SkillsUSA. I’d say they were both persuasive because both organizations signed up to be SkillsUSA official sponsors effective this year. Executives from each organization met with us in Leesburg on September 11. Thanks go to Russ Hoffbauer for his support.
- We have 311 people registered to attend the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) and it starts tomorrow. They’ll be representing 27 states and Puerto Rico and 31 state associations. I believe this is the largest WLTI in history. All of the national officers will be attending.
- Preparations for the Champion of the Year dinner are reaching a feverish pace. An announcement news release went out on September 6, and Snap-on has really stepped up efforts to get coverage during a news conference scheduled at the National Press Club. Staff is following up on the invitations to the administration and Congress. We’ve had good sponsorship responses from the Youth Development Foundation and members of the board, and we’re looking forward to having 100 students and teachers from WLTI join us for the dinner.
- We’re getting ready to send 13 students and 12 technical delegates from the 2013 SkillsUSA WorldTeam to Brazil for the WorldSkills Americas in mid-November 2012. We sent two contestants to the 2010 WorldSkills Americas competition and found it was a great way to prepare the contestants for international competition and – even more important – to help prepare the technical experts. Thank you to the state associations who are stepping up to support these contestants in their quest for excellence on the world level.
That’s it for now. Until next time, thank you for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.
September 1st, 2012
I recently returned from Rapid City, S.D., the City of Presidents and Gateway to the Black Hills, where I was attending the State Association Directors Annual Professional Development and Training Conference. The program began on August 14 for the state directors’ officers and new state association directors. There were eight new directors there and lots of young faces among them. There were 47 state directors in attendance. The program covered a wide array of national staff updates, committee meetings and presentations from outside experts on topics such as: social media, privacy, security and the law; liability coverage; and, marketing CTE. There were also best practice sessions conducted by the state directors themselves.
It wasn’t all work, though. One evening, we went out for a cowboy dinner of stew, cornbread and blueberry pudding at the Flying T Ranch and were entertained by a cowboy band—the Flying T Wranglers. Almost all of the directors brought gifts representative of their states, and they were used as fabulous door prizes. Five of the meal functions were sponsored, and all of the sponsor presentations were well received.
Two members of the board – James King and Mike Cowles joined in when we visited George, Tom, Teddy and Abe at Mt. Rushmore. It was a great week.
August 15th, 2012
On July 29 I traveled to Fargo, N.D., and then drove across the border into Detroit Lakes, Minn. to work with the SkillsUSA Minnesota board of directors in a training session on the role of non-profit board members. Jennifer Polz, state association director, and Marlys Bucher, SkillsUSA corporate member, and immediate past national board member representing Region 4, put on an outstanding training conference for board members and advisors over a three-day period.
The conference was held on the beautiful lake front of Detroit Lake and featured cookouts, picnics and outdoor games for the participants and families. Following board training, I took the board through a strategic planning exercise, and we developed a quality two-year plan with measurable objectives for the state association. Marsha Daves also attended and did an excellent job conducting a Chapter Management Institute for teachers, including five new advisors getting their first exposure to SkillsUSA. I heard nothing but great comments about the training and the conference overall. Congratulations to Jennifer Polz for her excellent work.