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2012 Awards of Excellence
Two Awards of Excellence were presented in the 2012 contest.


Champions at Work

Delcastle Technical High School

Advisor: Karla Rowe-Denison and Mentoring program lead and advisor, Jim Berman
Training Areas: Culinary and Nutrition class

In the spirit of bringing energy to our day-to-day experiences as a class of young culinary professionals, we decided to share our excitement for our field with younger members of the academic community. Throughout the year, we partner with the 8th grade of Brandywine Springs Middle School. The working relationship is mutually beneficially, but, more importantly, it is energizing and exciting. During our 'Season of Service' students from Brandywine work with the younger participants at our community service events where we make gingerbread houses. The 8th grade team bridges the gap of literacy by employing reading and storytelling revolving around the culinary creations. Later in the season, we bake cookies for every law enforcement officer in the state. The students from Brandywine work side by side with our students to scoop cookies, make batter, fold boxes and help with delivery. In March, the Delcastle culinary crew work with the Brandywine crew in the kitchen of our school on cooking skills that lead to a co-produced dinner served to everybody's families. And, ultimately, the partnership culminates when the Delcastle students working with the Brandywine crew to create a menu for the 8th graders' dinner dance.

The partnership with our Brandywine Springs Middle School friends has blossomed to more than what was ever imagined. What started off as an idea for a brief meeting between the two groups has evolved into a working partnership that people throughout our community have recognized. The school community at Brandywine Springs recognizes the older students as leaders and 'teachers'. More importantly, the community service programs that the schools have co-produced have touched thousands of participants and generated tangible outcomes. Specifically, the Gingerbread events work to raise canned food items for the FoodBank of Delaware. As such, over 1200# of goods were generated. Also, over 1000 gingerbread houses were constructed at 9 stops on the tour. The SkillsUSA students looked to the Brandywine partners for support and energy. The SkillsUSA students have also further developed their practice in industry by being put in teaching roles that forced them to use (and refine!) their skills. Ultimately, the younger students have, if nothing else, been exposed to another path on which they can travel; that the skilled trades are approachable, respectable and engaging.

The partnership has now spanned two years and is planned to extend into next school year, as well. The culminating 8th grade dinner project is a direct result of the positive outcomes and feedback from the younger students.

Gordon Cooper Technology Center

Advisor: Gay Johnston
Training Areas: Professional Diesel (Adult Class)

The Gordon Cooper Technology Center Diesel Technician class opened their program to sophomores from a small school in the GCTC service area that normally wouldn't be eligible to enroll in classes due to low grades, poor attendance, or social behavioral issues. Focusing on the "at- risk" student, they were expecting problems, so the adult students were chosen to be mentors. However, they found quite the opposite to be true. The students were eager to learn the trade and well behaved.

The event began with a quick lesson in safety, followed by two days of work in the shop on live projects that the diesel students were in the process of completing. The adults worked one-on-one with the mentees, sharing the knowledge and skills acquired through the program. Students experienced rebuilding a head, putting an engine together, tuning up an engine, and installing brakes on a truck.

The third day was a field trip to a truck dealership, where the students were given a tour of the plant. The service manager talked to the students about salary ranges and employee expectations-punctuality, respect, communication, willingness to learn, being a team player, etc.

Both adult mentors and mentees received invaluable benefit from the program. The Diesel Technicians increased their level of self-confidence by sharing their knowledge and a new sense of pride in their program and themselves. They also learned that it takes a lot of patience and good communication to teach others a skill. The high school students were given direction for their future, were introduced to SkillsUSA and experienced real world work; but more importantly, they gained a mentor in the industry.