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2014 Advisors of the Year

The SkillsUSA State Directors Association created the Advisor of the Year award to recognize and honor dedicated career and technical education instructors who serve as SkillsUSA advisors. The Advisor of the Year program is sponsored by Delmar Learning, a part of Cengage Learning. State winners are submitted to the regional competition. At NLSC, regional winners are interviewed and a national winner is selected.


Champions at Work

Sharon FarringtonRegion 1
Ellen T. Coughlin
Chenango-Madison-Otsego Board of Cooperative Educational Services
Norwich, N.Y.

Ellen Coughlin has served many SkillsUSA students during her 25 years as an advisor. The work experience coordinator at Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Norwich, N.Y., hated school as a student, never realizing she was in fact a natural born teacher. At a young age, she taught members of her 4-H club how to work with horses, and her very first job was teaching summer swimming lessons for a local recreational program. Time at a cosmetology school made her realize that she didn't really hate school at all; she just learned better by doing. She's since devoted her life to teaching students the same lesson. Her dedication to SkillsUSA has been described as "infectious," and she has especially embraced the leadership and community service element of the program. Her involvement in SkillsUSA New York's summer leadership programs has been invaluable, as she's run workshops for students and advisors on résumé writing, job-seeking skills and more. She's also helped revamped the state's fall leadership conference and has served as a judge and national education team member at the national conference. Never content to rest on her laurels, Coughlin's continued drive to improve - and the lessons she's learned along the way - have made her a popular guest speaker throughout her state. She has been described as a "wonderful ambassador for SkillsUSA members and advisors," and the many students whose lives she's improved throughout her career would happily attest to that fact.

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Chef Darin NineRegion 2
James Dinsmoor
Rockdale Career Academy
Conyers, Ga
He's been a SkillsUSA advisor for six years, but in that short time, James Dinsmoor has made a big difference. The broadcast video production instructor from Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers, Ga., is dedicated to improving his craft every day in an effort to improve the education his students receive. Since Dinsmoor took over the broadcast video production program, it's grown from 35 students to more than 250 and a waiting list. His program has also garnered more awards at his state conference than any other program in Georgia, and many of his students have started successful careers in the industry he's helped train them to succeed in. He's received a variety of "teacher of the year" awards, as well as awards and recognition related to his field, but when he was named as SkillsUSA Georgia's Advisor of the Year recently, he summed up his entire teaching philosophy by saying, "The fact that my kids [current and former students] were on stage with me meant more than any award could." As one peer puts it, Dinsmoor is "renowned for sharing his expertise and his willingness to share his knowledge with others."

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Cora Duncan-FosterRegion 3
Tobin Prinsen
Apollo Career Center
Lima, Ohio

A SkillsUSA advisor for 10 years, Tobin Prinsen teaches automated manufacturing and precision machining at the Apollo Career Center in Lima, Ohio. He came to education from a 10-year industrial background as a tool maker and engineer. Now, he's dedicated to bettering education in his local area, and that includes bettering himself. Prinsen has taken part in numerous SkillsUSA advisor training sessions over the years, and honing his skills has helped his students hone theirs, both from a technical and leadership perspective. His program has produced three state champions and one national champion in CNC Milling, as well as three state officers. Not content to merely teach in his own classroom and "call it a day," Prinsen has worked hard to increase the articulation between career centers and college/postsecondary insitutions. Prinsen has also found the time to serve as a Big Brother, as president of his local school board, as a member of the Ohio High School Board Association and more. He also spends his summers accompanying students to SkillsUSA conferences on the state and national levels. Called "a leader who dedicates his time to the advancement of career and technical education," Prinsen continues to make a lasting, positive difference in many young lives.

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Jackson TegardenRegion 4
Mark Sponaugle
Carthage (Mo.) Technical Center

Currently the vocational resource educator at Carthage (Mo.) Technical Center, Mark Sponaugle has been a SkillsUSA advisor for 23 years. For each of those years, Sponaugle's passion, dedication and compassion have been noticed and appreciated by his peers and the students he's served. Sponaugle works with IEP (Individualized Education Program) students, a challenging effort that helps improve the educational experience of students with disabilities. As senior SkillsUSA advisor for the largest school district in the state, he also coordinates all of his district's SkillsUSA activities, from the selection and training of officers to competitions. He is also active on the state level, serving as chair of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies competition. One of his peers says, "Mark's desire to be the best can be surpassed by none," but that desire is far from self-serving; it applies to how he trains his students for success and how he helps and mentors his fellow teachers.

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Chuck VeloniRegion 5
James C. Adamson
Central Kitsap High School

Silverdale, Wash.
James Adamson has been a SkillsUSA advisor for 15 years. The computer and engineering technology instructor at Central Kitsap High School in Silverdale, Wash., is known by his peers as one who "walks the talk." Maybe that's because Adamson came to education from industry, so he knew immediately what his students needed to succeed after graduation. He's shared his expertise at all levels of SkillsUSA's competitions and has helped develop other teachers and SkillsUSA advisors, too. Amazingly, Adamson's students have won a state championship every year he's been an advisor. He's also worked hard with local colleges to ensure that students completing his classes earn college credit. Adamson has received and inspired numerous awards over the years, and the students whose lives he's helped improve are the greatest testimonial to his ongoing success.

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Gerald Suggs Bob Sumner Jan Garrett-Desimone Linda Shelton Nancy Bell Cheryl Rees David Richard Larry Kuretsch Michael Pointer Jim Maynard Paul Elder Jennifer Leff John Crosby Thomas Renninger Region 5 Advisor of the Year Region 1 Advisor of the Year Region 3 Advisor of the Year Region 2 Advisor of the Year Region 4 Advisor of the Year