Energy. Enthusiasm. A passion for teaching. Julise Clement, national Advisor of the Year, pours her heart into her students and embodies the best SkillsUSA has to offer.
Julise Clement loves the first day of school.
Our technical school serves nine high schools, she says. Theyre all competitive in sporting events and things like that. And they walk in the first day and everybodys just giving each other the eye. Then she tells the students that their rivalsnow classmatesare going to be their best friends by December. And theyre all going, Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, and theyre just sitting there.
But Clement, a SkillsUSA advisor for 12 years, is prepared for their disbelief. We go through some orientation and things they should expect to learn, and then we go on down the road and talk about what theyd like and things that they like to do.
Thats where it begins, what Clement calls a remarkable change from the beginning of the year to December. At Dekalb County Technology Center in Rainsville, Ala., shes seen a lot of kids with no guidance. They just really need somebody to help them coach them along, to teach them how to act and teach them what to wear and what to do for interviews and things like that.
So the first-day chat leads into opening up to find out a little bit about them and where they come from, and maybe why they are the way they are. And all of a sudden, you know, they steal your heart, and then you begin that relationship that goes on forever, she says.
Clements classes are always full, and the reason is easy to see. I think it goes back to the advisors and the enthusiasm that they have themselves for their job, she says. And I myself am very enthusiastic in my classroom and in my school.
She describes herself as a real project person who, through SkillsUSA, loves to see students get involved in the community and grow from the experience. In one project, they help mentally challenged children. It may be reading to them. It may be doing their hair, because Im a cosmetology teacher, and teaching them how to do certain things to better themselves, teaching them communications skills.
Another project is sending letters and packages to the soldiers in Iraq. Their involvement in that really impressed me, the way they changed, she says. Everything went from me, me, me and the prom to Ms. Clement, when are we gonna write our letters again?
She involves students in what they do best. The quiet ones write the letters, and the drama queens are in front of the camera, in videos to the soldiers or to promote enrollment at the school.
I love to take pictures at the beginning of the year, Clement says. Then at the end of the year, we have this bulletin board thats kind of before and after. And the students look at themselves and go, Did I really look like that when I came here? And Im like, Yeah, but you looked fine; youve just gotten a little older. But you know, just watching them change in that one year and then maybe in the second year, that motivates me.
My two children are grown, and you know, these are my kids. I love to see them, I love to see them achieve, and I love to spend time with them.
As SkillsUSAs national conference approaches, local businesses call and offer to pay for the plane tickets. The chapters activities are well known, because when they come back, kids will spread the word better than I will, Clement says. They will go back to their home schools and they will be the first ones to say, You need to go to the tech school. You have got to go, and they go on this trip They talk about fun stuff, but then they come back years later, maybe five years later or 10 years later too, and they say, I promise you its gonna be the highlight of my life, going to states, going to nationals, learning all the things that we did.
Some come back in the summer, soon after graduation, she adds. And Im like, What are yall doing here? Youre supposed to be at the pool!
Theyre just so eager to give back, and I really think its because my passion is there for them and they know it. And if everybody just put into their job in the classroom, or maybe their chapters, a little more enthusiasm, a little more fun, theyre gonna love it.
Learn more about the 2002-2003 Advisors of the Year at www.skillsusa.org/advofyear2003.html.
Want to nominate your favorite advisor for the Advisor of the Year Award? Download the form by clicking on this link: www.skillsusa.org/RTF/advyr.rtf.
SkillsUSA Champions | Fall 2003 | Volume 38, No. 1