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Highlights

November 14th, 2013
  • The SkillsUSA Foundation, Inc. met October 16-17 at the National Leadership Center in Leesburg. In brief, the group discussed the name change from the Youth Development Foundation to the SkillsUSA Foundation, Inc.; discussed opportunities for their involvement to obtain support for the transition to Louisville; and, discussed collaborating efforts on a SkillsUSA/Skilled Trade Awareness Month to bring greater attention to both SkillsUSA and skilled trade issues. A big thank you goes to the Foundation members for their dedication and commitment to the SkillsUSA mission. We are grateful for their service. We also look forward to working with Kaye Morgan-Curtis from Newell Rubbermaid as a new Foundation member.
  • We finished counting the number of congressional visits made by during WLTI. This year, students and advisors visited with 37 Senators, 72 Representatives and 1 Resident Commissioner, for a total of 110; and, we received excellent feedback from the visits. We also heard some nice comments from the attendees this year too, some of which include … “It was a great and awesome experience, truly transforming; All activities were definitely an experience of growth and learning; Thank you, it was a great conference!; This was my first SkillsUSA conference and it had a dynamic effect on my students. Thank you for all you do; I am an alumni and it was wonderful to see the wonderful things SkillsUSA still does for students; and, I so appreciated the opportunity to meet staff and to be able to interact with others throughout the nation.” A big thank you to the board of director members who accompanied students on their Capitol Hill visits.
  • And, on October 18, we held our annual staff outing with a lovely autumn lunch and wine tasting at a local winery. We honored years of service at the luncheon for six of our staff members: Stephanie Bland, five years; Jim Kregiel, 10 years; Jane Short and Missy Wilson, 20 years; Kim Graham, 25 years; and, Judy Garrison, 35 years. Of course, each and everyone on our staff is an amazing resource for SkillsUSA. We have such a great staff.

Highlights

September 27th, 2013
  • On the advocacy front and use of social media, SkillsUSA posted an alert and a sample letter about federal funding for Perkins on our website before Labor Day. we posted an announcement on September 12 with our followers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr. On Facebook, we used the ACTE infographic on CTE Funding. As of September 26, the links had been shared 64 times and over 6,956 people have seen the post. And, we have the final numbers for government offices reached following national conference with the names of winners. We wrote to 98 U.S. Senators, 289 U.S. Representatives (that’s two-thirds of the House) and 49 governors plus one territorial governor. We’re getting replies from congressional offices, some talking about setting up school visits when they’re back in the districts.
  • A September 11 posting by David Hoey, CEO of WorldSkills International praises the work of Patrick Klarecki, our chief expert in Print Media Technology, and Bruce Kenworthy for winning the Sustainability Award during the WorldSkills competition. The Sustainability Award is a big deal at WorldSkills and we commend Pat and his technical committee for being models of how to reduce waste, reuse and recycle. For further information, go to: http://tinyurl.com/qf8es2r.
  • Staff reported that the new membership hotline that assists teachers in starting a new chapter, discovering ways to engage more members and strategies to strengthen their existing chapters, is enjoying a surge of activity. We’re currently tracking 337 teachers and will continue to provide support to these teachers in anticipation that it will lead to membership registration and a stronger chapter structure. To date, 69 percent of callers are teachers that are currently non-advisors and are learning about SkillsUSA for the first time in their quest to take the lead of an existing chapter or start a new chapter. A large number of callers, 39 percent  in fact, are starting a brand new SkillsUSA chapter.
  •  I’m happy to welcome Joe Morgan of the Kentucky Department of Education as the new chair of the SkillsUSA Championships Executive Committee. Joe will be representing education on the committee and stepping in for the always wonderful Francie Russell. Joe will serve for one year on the YDF committee.
  • On September 13, I took Mega Prize winner Mike Benton and his wife on a tour of the Capitol before we went to a Washington Nationals baseball game. The day began with a reception with all of the national staff and a tour of the national headquarters. I can say confidently that Mike and his wife had a wonderful time, thanks in part to our mega prize sponsor, N.E.W.

Highlights

August 29th, 2013
  • I’ve met twice with a local management consultant – and another meeting is scheduled for early in September – to discuss creation of a human resources plan. We’ll begin by conducting an analysis of SkillsUSA’s structure and processes, including staffing and staff succession, so we know we are appropriately aligned to meet the goals in Vision 2020.
  • We held a staff meeting on August 6 and the chief topic was the 2013 National Leadership and Skills Conference. Small cross-departmental teams reviewed the national conference and offered up their five best superlatives and five major challenges. Among the superlatives: excellent general sessions, particularly the quality of the speakers; good news media coverage; the registration process went well with improvements implemented during the past two years; addition of TAG Tuesday for delegates; and YDF Breakfast and Challenge Fund. We also did some brainstorming for the 50th anniversary celebration.
  • The Challenge Fund held during conference raised $140,000 from corporate and individual contributions. All monies were dedicated to the Skills Build America Campaign.
  • We’re finding SkillsUSA appearing more frequently in papers and books focusing on skill gaps and worker shortages. One of the most recent is in the book The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America’s Future. The central thesis by author Gary Beach is that the widening “skills gap” in math and science is a threat to America’s future, and business should get involved. The very first example of a public-private partnership — in the chapter entitled “Let’s Build Some Arks” — is SkillsUSA, 1965. He wrote in the chapter: “Do your homework and learn more about CTE.” Beach called our offices last week to say “SkillsUSA was way ahead of the game.”
  • SkillsUSA will be featured in a nationwide PBS broadcast entitled “American Graduate Day” on Saturday September 28. The program is about community organizations that are successful in preventing dropouts. SkillsUSA will be both an example of a community organization and of CTE. We have been compiling stories of students who stayed in school and have gone on to greater things thanks to SkillsUSA, their instructors and others. There will be much more to tell in the coming weeks.
  • Bob Baird of the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), chair of our Industrial Motor Control contest and long-time friend of SkillsUSA, came to visit on August 7 to discuss ways IEC and SkillsUSA can support each other at local, state and national levels. Support from IEC would include work by its chapters in training, contests, and advocacy. We also spoke of possible support from some of IEC’s corporate members. Bob expressed interest in the Professional Development Program as a curriculum for apprentices.
  • I attended a meeting between youth organizations and the Army at Ft. Myer to discuss the Army’s SAY Program (Strengthening America’s Youth) The Army involved us in a discussion of STEM education and recruiting the best youth with technical skills into the military. I suggested, and it was well received, that the Army give preference through rank and pay to students who come to them with technical and leadership credentials such as being a SkillsUSA officer or a leader in another student organization. The dialogue continued the following day when the representatives of the Army visited our office to discuss our 2014 partnership.
  • Jacob Wozniak of Springville, New York won the qualifying trial in Cabinetmaking for a spot on the 2015 SkillsUSA WorldTeam. Jacob will compete in Sao Paulo, Brazil in August 2015. He is a graduate of the Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES program and he won the 2012 high school Gold medal in Cabinetmaking. Jacob competed against Caleb Floyd, the 2012 high school Silver medalist from Kathleen, Ga. and Warner-Robins High School, and Brett Sidesinger of Topeka, Kan. and Washburn Tech, who was the highest scoring age-eligible contestant from the 2013 Cabinetmaking contest. The Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial was conducted at the biennial AWFS Fair in late July at the Las Vegas Convention Center, thanks to the generous in-kind sponsorship of the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS).  WorldTeam Cabinetmaking technical expert Rob Tobias of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, PA, served as the chief judge.
  • I recently received a note from Daniel Berrios, our 2013 WorldSkills Cabinetmaking competitor about his experience in Germany. “The WorldSkills competition was one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I have ever had. It felt like the Olympics. The mixture of cultures, languages, and people really brought about a sense of unity and equality among all competitors. The confusion and excitement are hard to put into words, but in the end it was all about a good friendly competition; no politics nor boarders, just people doing what they love to do with a focus on winning a medal. The competition itself was intense, and the cabinet was one of the most difficult projects I had ever done, with lots of complex angles, cuts, and joints all while thousands of people watched my every move. Every cut had to be perfect and nothing less would suffice, although, I do admit I did make a few mistakes on my cabinet. But, I have no regrets on how I built my project, and if I had the opportunity again, I would do it in a heartbeat.”
  • Speaking of quotes, here’s an excerpt from an email by Judy Rambert of Pivot Point, a long-time supporter of SkillsUSA and the WorldTeam. She wrote after listening to my remarks during the recent Congressional Roundtable: “I sat listening to your speech on Capitol Hill tonight, and it reminded me why Pivot Point cherishes our involvement with SkillsUSA. Your message captured our commitment to the youth of our profession. Students involved in SkillsUSA chapters have superb statistics of completing their education. You all must be so proud!”
  • And, the Best of Brand Awards were presented during the state directors’ conference in South Portland, Maine. Congratulations go to Best of Innovation: Advocacy – Tennessee college/postsecondary; Best of Innovation: Membership Growth and Engagement – Michigan; Best of Brand: Print – Wisconsin; Best of Brand: Multi-media – Arizona; and, Best of Brand: Website – Oregon.

Highlights

August 1st, 2013
  • Welcome to our new members of the board of directors: Dale Derrickson, Region 1; Jennifer Polz, state directors’ association chair; Laurie Hackett, Youth Development Foundation Committee chair; and, Mike deCastro of Air Products (fulfilling Joe Pientrantonio’s term). Congratulations to the officers: James King, president; Brent Kindred, vice president; and, Chris Arvin, secretary. And, thank you for your service and leadership to: Mike Cowles, state directors’ association chair; Gerry Tylka, Region 1; and, Dave Camden, Youth Development Foundation chair.
  • While it’s not news about the national organization, I believe it’s good to share examples of what excellent and far-reaching work our state associations do. Here’s a story about the recent “Paint the Town” community service activity involving 250 students and teachers from 40 schools in Ohio. The intern reporter might need an editor but, I believe, he captured the spirit of the event here.
  • On July 23rd, I spoke on Capitol Hill to a round table of representatives from nearly 30 congressional offices — members of the CTE Congressional Caucus — about SkillsUSA as a CTSO and ways we help students transition from high school to college and work. The student national officers have just been here for nine days of training. And, we’ve established dates for the board meetings. The fall meetings will be Web conferences on November 19 for standing committees and November 20 for the full board. The spring meeting will be March 12-13 at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, Nashville. The summer board meeting during conference will move back to Tuesday, June 24 and the Corporation meeting will be on Wednesday, June 25.

Highlights

June 15th, 2013
  • I went to Rhode Island June 7-8 and visited with a great local chapter (Chariho CTE Center), met with state contestants and conducted board training and strategic planning with the SkillsUSA Rhode Island Board of Directors. Thanks to Josh Klemp and his board for a productive and successful meeting.
  • Staff attended a Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) conference in Baltimore on June 3. SME has a new tag line, “Making the future. Together,” and Our representative said many conferees stopped him to talk about SkillsUSA.
  • On May 14, staff members and I drove up to Bethlehem, Pa where we were joined by Board President James King and YDF Chair-Elect Laurie Gostley-Hackett and representatives from Northampton Community College, to prepare for our meeting the following day with the president and senior staff at the college. John McGlade of Air Products has encouraged the college to start a SkillsUSA chapter that could be a model for colleges elsewhere, and he’s willing to invest time and money to do it. James spoke of the success the technical colleges are having in Tennessee with chapters and the benefits derived by the colleges and the students. We have a tentative agreement from the president to attend the national conference with senior staff.
  • And, finally, I had an interesting meeting here in the office on May 13 with the vice president of the International Sign Association (ISA). The association wants to develop a certification for the workers who design, fabricate and install highway and digital signs. ISA is very interested in our employability curriculum and assessments as a possible component in their certification system. He said he’d met with many workforce development organizations, but this had been the most productive meeting yet.

 

Youth Development Foundation Committee Meeting

May 15th, 2013

On April 16-17, the SkillsUSA Youth Development Foundation (YDF) met at the National Leadership Center. The meeting was very well attended and was one of the most interactive on record. The meeting started with a review of the FY14 strategic plan. Chairman Dave Camden and our Business Partnerships and Development staff then led the Foundation through a series of exercises to help SkillsUSA with strategy to move our partnerships efforts forward. Specifically, the committee broke into three working groups to address the topics of events and point of entry for new partners; fundraising for the transition to Louisville; and, partner development. Each subcommittee will be chaired by a YDF Committee member with regular meetings and reports taking place throughout the year. Every YDF member was engaged, and I believe we have a great beginning with new ideas and strategies in place for the future. Dave Camden has now retired from Toyota and this was his final YDF meeting. We are pleased and excited that Laurie Hackett of Air Products will be assuming the position of YDF chair.

 

Highlights

April 15th, 2013
  • We have worked with Youth Development Foundation Committee member Cameron Ferguson and Caterpillar Inc. to confirm that Mike Rowe will indeed be our keynote speaker at the 2013 NLSC Opening Ceremony. CAT will also sponsor the Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting and Dave Bozeman, CAT Vice President of Manufacturing will address the audience at the ceremony. Dave was also a presenter at the Harvard conference. A press release on the event was sent out on April 3. Here is the link: www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10588382.htm.
  • Staff reports that the State Certified Trainer training in Denver, Colo. on March 15-16 went very well. Eight advisors and one state director attended and the participants came from six states. Wyoming participated for the first time. The participants were all excited about receiving the new materials and looked forward to sharing what they had learned with their states.
  • Staff traveled to Atlanta to work with Gayle Silvey on membership strategies for next school year.
  • Staff traveled to the Texas High School State Conference in Corpus Christi, April 4-6 to work with alumni initiatives.

Highlights

February 14th, 2013
  • The Youth Development Foundation Committee met through a conference call on January 30 to discuss major funding priorities. The majority of committee members participated, and we were joined by two new members, Taryn McKenzie of Delmar, Cengage Learning and John Kett of Insurance Auto Auction International. The next YDF meeting is scheduled for April 16-17 here in Leesburg.
  • I had a great telephone conversation with SkillsUSA Champion of the Year and Snap-on CEO, Nick Pinchuk, on January 31. Nick says he’ll be making some high-level contacts for SkillsUSA, and he’s willing to travel on a couple of occasions this year to visit partners and high-value prospective sponsors. I also thanked him for his generous personal contribution to the Skills Build America campaign.
  • As you may recall, I served on the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education (NACTE) Independent Advisory Panel. I recently received word that the interim report from the NACTE was sent to Congress on February 8, way ahead of any serious talk of reauthorizing the Perkins Act. The more comprehensive final report is due to be released in the fall of 2013.

Highlights

November 1st, 2012
  • On October 1-3, our Education, Training and Assessments department staff were engaged in intense training with Quantum Learning’s nationally respected trainer Mark Reardon. Our training staff learned the latest training and motivational techniques; and will be incorporating these into our training seminars and workshops for students and advisors. The training included focus on effective meetings, new teacher training and the most current training trends and techniques. Staff tells me they were excited about the training and even more excited about implementing what they learned with our stakeholders.
  • As a follow up to the Champion of the Year Dinner and great connections from YDF member Dave Camden of Toyota, we are working with Interstate Batteries to introduce a national fundraising campaign for our local chapters. In our discussions with local advisors and student leaders, fundraising is a critical component of local involvement in SkillsUSA. Chapters will have the opportunity to sell Interstate alkaline batteries and keep approximately 50 percent of all sales.
  • I’m also pleased to announce that earlier last month, Interstate Batteries announced a partnership with SkillsUSA. Starting this year, participating SkillsUSA student chapters will be able to sell a wide variety of Interstate Batteries products from AAA, AA, C, D and 9V batteries to flashlights and organizers with testers. And, for each Interstate Batteries product sold, SkillsUSA student chapters will receive 50 percent of the sale price.
  • Finally, staff reports that we are almost ready to travel to Brazil with 11 of our finest students to compete in WorldSkills Americas in November. Our final count of participants is complete, and we are in the last days of planning for the event.

YDF Takes to the Hill

May 15th, 2012

The Youth Development Foundation Committee held its spring meeting at the N.E.W. Customer Service Companies headquarters in Sterling, Va., on April 18 and then in Washington, D.C. on April 19. Twelve members attended the first meeting in person and by phone. The meeting was chaired by Greg Rintala of Snap-on. The meetings were productive, and the day wrapped up with a great evening in the N.E.W. suite at Nationals Park for a Washington Nationals baseball game (and the Nationals won).

We were up early Thursday morning for visits to Congress. The message carried by the YDF Committee members started with the issues of workforce shortages, skills gaps and middle-class occupations. Their message then went on to say “Policymakers should pay attention to – and build upon – what works to address these issues. We know SkillsUSA and career and technical education work. Here’s what we do to support them.” Then, the members would fill in their own stories on needed skills and the work they and their companies do with SkillsUSA. Two delegations of YDF members visited with staff from the House Manufacturing Caucus and staff from the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee. Members also met with nine additional congressional offices during the course of the morning. We held a debriefing of our meetings at the offices of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) just two blocks from the Hill. All visit reports were positive.

This was Greg Rintala’s last meeting as chair of the YDF. Dave Camden from Toyota is picking up the gavel. My thanks go to both of them for their tremendous leadership. And, thanks to Bill Maddox and Wanzel Jessie of N.E.W. for hosting the meeting.

 


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