Active Advisor News: September 2019

Update from Tim Lawrence

Tim LawrenceWelcome to a New School Year
Thanks to all of you, last year was filled with new records for SkillsUSA. Our membership of 427,432 was the largest in history. By continuing to work together, we’re looking forward to an even bigger and better year in 2019-20.

Here is a link to the final membership report for the 2018-19 academic year: www.skillsusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/SkillsUSA-Membership-Report-FY19.pdf. 

National Conference Gets Bigger and Better
If you haven’t attended our national conference, I hope you will put it on your calendar for 2020. The dates are June 22-26 in Louisville, Ky. Even if you do not have students competing, we offer teacher training, educational workshops, a huge trade show, exciting ceremonies and more.

As we look back on SkillsUSA’s 55th National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC), here are a few highlights:

  • The 55th NLSC was our largest national conference ever, with registration at 11,136 and a final contestant count at 6,417. Including judges, exhibitors and other volunteers who are not registered, the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates around 19,000 attended. This event changed many lives for the better. Check out the 2019 NLSC Week in Review conference recap video below:
  • We were honored to have U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Mick Zais attend the conference this year for the first time. We demonstrated career and technical education at its best, and this can help shape future policy and programs in Washington. See his interview with SkillsUSA here:
  • We were also honored to have other dignitaries with us including: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin; Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton; Cierra Mitchell, acting division chief at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship; and Robin Utz, branch chief of College and Career Transitions at the U.S. Department of Education’s Division of Academic and Technical Education at the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education.
  • SkillsUSA did very well with local Kentucky news media this year during NLSC. To view the Louisville area media report with links to news clips, go to: skillsusa.org/publications-news/press-room/ and find the “2019 Local Media Report” under resources.
  • We are also receiving a lot of news coverage across the United States. A total of 9,197 press releases were sent on behalf of our Skill Point certificate recipients and medalists following the conference. Releases went to two nondaily newspapers and one daily paper closest to each ZIP code.
  • The PR team also sends lists of all national winners and Skill Point certificate recipients to U.S. senators, congressional representatives, governors and state CTE directors, encouraging them to recognize these outstanding students. This national advocacy effort is so important to getting word to our lawmakers and leaders about SkillsUSA as well as career and technical education.
  • If you missed the opening or awards ceremony or want to hear one of the keynote speeches, and would like to view them, go to: skillsusa.org/events-training/national-leadership-and-skills-conference/national-conference-daily-photos-and-videos/live-conference-videos/
  • Photos of national medalists grouped by contest, and taken on stage and backstage at the awards ceremony, are available. These photos may be downloaded, printed, published or shared. Captions for the backstage photos will be available soon. Here is the link to the photos: skillsusa.org/competitions/skillsusa-championships/medalist-photos/

SkillsUSA Has Some Impressive Social Media Stats
This fiscal year, SkillsUSA made over 8 million impressions across social media platforms. Here are statistics for our social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts as of Aug. 31:

  • Of the three CTSOs most active on Facebook (SkillsUSA, FFA, and DECA), SkillsUSA currently holds the second largest following of any CTSO. SkillsUSA continues to grow fans/followers at the highest percentage rate, even dwarfing FFA’s total percentage growth (9.7 percent vs. 3.7 percent).
  • Facebook impressions reached a record-breaking 5.3 million impressions with 301,288 engagements on our posts. Our most popular Facebook post for the September-August fiscal year was a Diversity in Manufacturing video featuring an engineering student, Katie Lowe, which reached over 176,000 people. On average, our Facebook posts reached 5,817 people per day. Our Facebook videos reached a total of 242,554 views.
  • Twitter impressions reached a total of 1.6 million in this fiscal year. Our most popular tweet was a Diversity in Manufacturing video featuring an engineering student, Katie Lowe, which reached 73,882 people. Our Twitter impressions are up by 20% percent this fiscal year.
  • Instagram impressions totaled 698,900 this fiscal year. Our Instagram followers went up by 36.5 percent. Our post likes were over 63,114 for the year. Our most liked post was a meme that explained the benefits of skilled trades. Our total impressions for Instagram are up 82.5 percent since last year.
  • SkillsUSA Week included a social media strategy on each day and was sponsored by Channellock.

That’s all for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students we serve.

Take Action to Increase Perkins State Grant Funding

Our friends at the Association for Career and Technical Education have requested we seek your help in ensuring an increase this year in Perkins Basic State Grants.

In June, the House passed its appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2020, which included a $47 million increase for Perkins grants — potentially bringing the new total to $1.31 billion. After years of declining federal support for career and technical education, the past two federal budgets (FY 2018, FY 2019) have included modest increases for the Perkins program. Your advocacy has been critical to securing these increases, and so we need your help again to keep the momentum going.

To ask your senators to support an increase in Perkins CTE funding in the FY 2020 appropriations bill, go to: www.acteonline.org/advocacy/take-action/#/34.

You can also call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. An operator will then connect you with your requested Senate office.

We need to continue to raise awareness with policymakers to ensure they understand the many benefits associated with high-quality career and technical education programs. The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to consider funding for education programs for FY20 as soon as next week. Your advocacy makes a difference and encourages policymakers to take action, so please contact your senators today.

Chelle Travis to Be Next Executive Director of SkillsUSA

On Aug. 13, the SkillsUSA board of directors announced that Chelle Travis has been selected as the next executive director of SkillsUSA. Travis succeeds Tim Lawrence, who has served in this position for the past 19 years. She will take the helm of SkillsUSA in November.

Travis brings 17 years of leadership experience in career and technical education to this role, with a solid understanding and track record of implementing and elevating the mission and programs of SkillsUSA. She has collaborated with business and industry, educators, legislators and other leaders to design curricula, develop programs and draft legislation, having served the Tennessee Board of Regents as assistant vice chancellor for the Colleges of Applied Technology and as a state SkillsUSA director. Travis received an master’s in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in business from Middle Tennessee State University. 

SkillsUSA Team Receives Honors at Internationals

The SkillsUSA WorldSkills USA team competed Aug. 22-27 at the WorldSkills Competition. There were more than 1,300 competitors from 63 member countries working in 56 occupational areas. All 22 members of the WorldSkills USA team were fierce competitors, and we are so proud of them.

Overall, the team won a bronze medal and earned four Medallions of Excellence. Ryan Meppelink of Zeeland, Mich., was awarded a bronze medal for Heavy Vehicle Technology and Best in Nation for having the highest score for the team. Medallions of Excellence, awarded to competitors who earn 700 out of 800 possible points, were earned by Paul Danenberg of Boise, Idaho, in Automobile Technology; Ryan Fincher of Cedartown, Ga., in Welding; Rebekah Hagberg of Bloomington, Ill., in Hairdressing; and Dylan Wertz of Tiffin, Ohio, in Car Painting.

The team narrowly missed earning four additional Medallions of Excellence. Based on total points scored overall, the U.S. team moved up 15 places in world rankings when compared to the 2017 WorldSkills Competition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

While there, SkillsUSA executive director Tim Lawrence was honored to receive the WorldSkills Fellowship Award from Simon Bartley, president of WorldSkills. This award is conferred by the WorldSkills board of directors to individuals “in recognition of an outstanding contribution to WorldSkills and a commitment to inspiring and advancing the prospects of young people around the globe.” This was only the second WorldSkills Fellowship Award presented in the 73-year history of the organization.

The entire experience was unforgettable. Experiencing the unique Russian culture and meet workforce development experts from every corner of the globe truly expands minds to new possibilities and perspectives. It was an incredible journey in so many ways.

In all, SkillsUSA had around 60 U.S. representatives and supporters join the team in Kazan, including Kayleen McCabe, former national conference keynote speaker; technical experts for each of our contests; several parents and family members of the competitors; and SkillsUSA board president Jen Worth from the American Association of Community Colleges.

Thanks to the hundreds of supporters here in the United States who followed our journey on social media. Our 22 competitors truly gave it their all. The next WorldSkills competition will be held in September 2021 in Shanghai.

To write a personal message of congratulations to the team members for their hard work, go to: https://t.co/8jDLzxD6bG#WorldSkillsUSA. To see photos and the post-conference press release, go to: www.WorldSkillsUSA.org. 

Training Offered for SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Experiences

Are you using or planning to using the SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Experiences courses and their associated assessments? If so, consider joining virtual opportunities for the SkillsUSA Career Essentials certified teacher training in September.

At present, there is one option for completing the training in one four-hour online session, and there are several options for completing the training in four one-hour online sessions. In addition, there are opportunities to set your own date for on-site training of a teacher group (for groups of 12 or more), or your own date for virtual training of a teacher group (for groups of five to 20).

Virtual training sessions require a minimum of five registrants, and a maximum of 20 will be accepted for any one given date.

The SkillsUSA Career Essentials certified teacher training is designed for teachers who are currently using the Experiences courses or who are planning to. Contextual information about the SkillsUSA Framework and basic resource information is assumed to be known by individuals participating in this training. If additional contextual information is needed for trainees prior to participating, our trainers will work with you as needed.

To fill out a form to indicate your interest in training, go to:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeJJIZa3LNCz3rw3DPi8rQoDzONxJcAjpam3SJwMxmFoZE7Sg/viewform, and we will respond with your options.

Membership Kits Target Specific Markets

SkillsUSA membership kits have been mailed to all chapters that affiliated with SkillsUSA last year. Extra kits have been mailed to all state SkillsUSA offices.

There are three unique membership kits, each designed for a specific market: middle school, high school or college/postsecondary. Each kit contains three posters, a registration brochure and membership cards. There’s also a chapter management guide that includes information on establishing a chapter, engaging students in chapter activities, tools for recruitment, lesson plans, programs, scholarship and recognition opportunities, and information on educational resources. 

Registration Opens — Enjoy the Benefits of Professional Membership

The SkillsUSA registration site is officially open for the new school year. If you or any chapter advisors need assistance with SkillsUSA membership or registration, hotline operators are ready to answer questions about starting a new chapter, ways to engage chapter members or strategies to strengthen an existing chapter. Operators are on call 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday (Eastern time). To reach the hotline, call 844-875-4557 or email operators@skillsusa.org. You can also chat online on the membership registration site.

Professional members receive these great benefits:

  • 2019-20 SkillsUSA Championships Technical Standards. The official competition guide for the SkillsUSA Championships contains rules for all national competitive events, including an overview, lists of technical skills and knowledge required, clothing requirements, eligibility and equipment lists. Note: The latest SkillsUSA Championships contest updates and the official SkillsUSA Championships scorecards are located online here: skillsusa.org/competitions/skillsusa-championships/contest-updates/
  • Jump into STEM! Curriculum includes middle-school and elementary-school STEM career exploration activities that can be taught by high-school members. This is a great opportunity to expose students to STEM careers and recruit for career and technical education programs as well as SkillsUSA.
  • SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Foundations. This complete curriculum includes 29 lesson plans that support the SkillsUSA Framework and prepare students for career readiness.

SkillsUSA professional members receive all of these materials when they submit membership along with a valid email address. The 2019-20 SkillsUSA Championships Technical Standards and other materials are provided through a digital delivery system. National dues for professional members are $20 plus state dues, which vary. The complete listing of 2019-20 state dues and deadlines is online and included in the membership kits.

Becoming a professional member of SkillsUSA is one of the best ways to demonstrate to students the importance of joining a professional organization and the opportunities that membership will provide.

Membership Registration System Makes Security Changes

To be more aligned with widespread security practices, SkillsUSA has recently made changes to its membership website, designed to help protect private information of its members. As a result, only the SkillsUSA advisor who is listed for the training program will be able to view member details, join and make changes for the members of that training program.

If your school has one authorized advisor who is responsible to register members for all training programs in your school and is currently unable to register members, please call SkillsUSA’s hotline operators at 1-844-875-4557 to obtain school admin access. If you have questions regarding username security changes, contact these hotline operators or use the chat feature on the membership registration website.

Encourage Chapter Excellence Participation

SkillsUSA’s Chapter Excellence Program (CEP) honors its chapters in the areas of personal, workplace and technical skills. The program aligns with the SkillsUSA Framework and establishes a baseline for quality chapters, with incentives for top performers. It consists of three award levels, and each level is designed to give chapters a benchmark for success and future improvement, leading to stronger chapters and more prepared students.

The first level honors chapters for meeting standards as a “Quality Chapter.” The second level recognizes chapters that go beyond the basic requirements with bronze, silver and gold “Chapters of Distinction” awards. The third level will honor the best chapters in the nation with a “Models of Excellence” award at the 2020 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

In this program, the focus is on the achievement of the students as a result of chapter involvement, not on the number of activities completed or participation in competitions. The emphasis is on student efforts in assuming personal responsibility, integrity, work ethic and organization in chapter activities. The more a chapter applies the SkillsUSA Framework, the greater the chance for CEP honors.

The program is supported by apprenticeship.gov and Crescent Tools. For more information on how to participate, see the membership kits or go to: www.skillsusa.org/programs/chapter-excellence-program/.

Please call if you need additional kits at any time, either sent to you or directly to a school. The SkillsUSA membership hotline can take care of all membership or chapter questions including how to start a new chapter, enter membership online, strengthen and grow an existing chapter, and more. Call toll-free 844-875-4557. All of the membership materials can also be downloaded online at: www.skillsusa.org/membership-resources/advisors/membership-kit/

New Theme for 2019-20 Announced

The SkillsUSA competition theme is used throughout the year in membership materials and as the topic for Chapter Display, Prepared Speech and Promotional Bulletin Board competitions at the local, state and national levels. The theme for the 2019-20 year is:

SkillsUSA: Champions at Work
I’m Ready

Within this topic, contestants might illustrate or discuss a variety of ideas. For details, go to: www.skillsusa.org/about/theme/.

Welcome, 2019-20 National Officer Team

Congratulations to our new national officer team for 2019-20. These leaders have completed their training and are ready to serve as SkillsUSA ambassadors.

High School Officers

  • Makenna Eccles, president, a health sciences, criminal justice and broadcast journalism student at Porter (Texas) High School
  • Melissa Moreno, vice president, a photography student at San Luis (Ariz.) High School
  • Skylar Rearick, secretary, an engineering student at Lyman High School, Longwood, Fla.
  • Justin Newton, treasurer, a CAD/mechanical design student at Webster County Area Tech Center, Dixon, Ky.
  • Jarod Harris, parliamentarian, a drone technology and videography student at Seward (Neb.) High School
  • Anika Koopman, Region 1 vice president, a health sciences student at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School, Upton, Mass.
  • Devon Cushing, Region 2 vice president, a graphic design and production student at Troup High School, Lagrange, Ga.
  • Austin Huddleston, Region 3 vice president, an exercise science student at Upper Valley Career Center, Piqua, Ohio
  • Ashley Olenkiewicz, Region 4 vice president, a health science student at Porter (Texas) High School
  • Miguel Nunez, Region 5 vice president, a photography and emergency medical services student at San Luis (Ariz.) High School

College/Postsecondary Officers

  • Karlisle Wilbur, president, a graphic design student at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I.
  • Jay Clifton, vice president, a culinary arts student at El Centro College, Dallas
  • Emma Cates, secretary, a cosmetology student at Indian Capital Technology Center, Muskogee, Okla.
  • Taytum McGill, parliamentarian, a salon and spa management student at Northeast Alabama Community College, Rainsville, Ala.

Joint Executive Council

  • Chair and Board Representative: Karlisle Wilbur
  • Vice Chair: Skylar Rearick
  • Secretary: Emma Cates

Use SkillsUSA Advocacy Tools to Promote Your State Activities

The SkillsUSA advocacy site is a free resource for state leaders and advisors. By using the site, you can write to your state contacts including your governor, lieutenant governor, state senators and representatives, state attorneys general and other local officials, as well as your U.S. members of Congress and the media.

By using our advocacy tools, you can let elected officials and local media outlets know about SkillsUSA and your upcoming activities. For example, you can email a letter of invitation, request a visit to your state house, publicize a local event to your media, or request an appointment with your U.S. senator or U.S. representative.

To write to elected officials, go to: www.cqrcengage.com/skillsusa/ and choose “Write to Your State Legislator or to Your Members of Congress.” Fill in your contact information, select the recipients, add a subject line, paste in your text and click “submit.”

To email a press release to local media, choose the media tab at the top of the webpage. Select your media outlets, click on “compose message” and “compose your own letter” and add your text. You can email up to five outlets at a time.

Some templates on the site have suggested text, but all can be edited by the sender.

We encourage you to help raise awareness of these resources. Thanks for being an advocate for SkillsUSA and career and technical education.

If you have questions, contact Jane Short at 703-737-0612 or jshort@skillsusa.org.

Free Resources Offered for College and Career Planning

SkillsUSA has partnered with myOptions, the nation’s largest college and career planning program, to provide free postsecondary college and career planning resources for students. This program also provides customized reporting to help instructors guide students to achieve their postsecondary goals.

Packages with registration materials began shipping on Aug. 29 to randomly selected SkillsUSA classrooms. If your classroom was selected, you should have received a postcard a few days before the survey packages arrived.

If you receive a package, please pass out the forms to your students and return them in the postage-paid envelope provided. There is also an educator survey form as well for you to fill out so they can collect your feedback. Please return the packages as soon as possible.

Once registered, students can access their free accounts online to explore their college, career and scholarship matches and navigate the college planning process.

If you did not receive a postcard or package and would like to participate, you can request a package here: https://myoptions.org/educators. For more information, contact: peggy@myoptions.org.

Plan Now to Participate in Manufacturing Day

SkillsUSA traditionally participates in Manufacturing Day, a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation. While Manufacturing Day is officially the first Friday in October — this year, Oct. 4 — SkillsUSA chapters can hold events on any date in October that works best. Events for students can include a plant tour, a virtual tour or an event on your campus that highlights manufacturing.

SkillsUSA chapters are asked to share their Manufacturing Day photos and stories with national communications specialist Hayley Uffelman at huffelman@skillsusa.org. For resources, or to find events in your area, go to: www.mfgday.com. 

Klein Tools Continues Electrician of the Year Contest

SkillsUSA partner Klein Tools has kicked off its sixth annual Electrician of the Year search, with a special focus on electrical instructors who have made a difference in the lives of their students, as well as in their communities.

Klein tools will announce six regional winners Oct. 14, based on three criteria: master of the craft, classroom/lab experience and community dedication. The six regional winners’ profiles will appear on the Klein Tools website, where fans will have one week to cast votes for the grand prize winner. The grand prize winner will be announced live on Facebook on Nov. 7.

Each regional winner will receive an Ultimate Garage, valued at approximately $500 in Klein Tools products for his or her classroom. The grand-prize 2019 Electrician of the Year will receive $1,000 cash and $1,000 of Klein Tools products for the winner’s classroom.

To nominate an instructor online, go to: www.kleintools.com/eoy. Nominations are open from Aug. 19 to Sept. 29.