SkillsUSA Members Participate in White House “CTE Innovators” Event
National Showcase of Innovation in Career and Technical Education
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Three SkillsUSA members, three SkillsUSA instructors and two members of the SkillsUSA national staff were selected to participate in a White House Career and Technical Education (CTE) Convening: “Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education” on Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Reach Higher initiative, delivered remarks at the Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education (CTE) event, hosted by the White House in partnership with the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education. In her remarks, Mrs. Obama celebrated students and educators for their work connecting the classroom to real-life career opportunities.
The students and educators were selected through a competitive process run by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Over the course of the day, the White House showcased student projects and led discussions with education leaders, business and industry representatives and policymakers on how the best CTE programs can be replicated and expanded. This event followed the release of an Executive Order that expands the United States Presidential Scholars program to establish a new category for CTE.
“It is an honor for SkillsUSA to be recognized by the White House as an innovator and thought leader in public education CTE partnerships,” said SkillsUSA Executive Director, Timothy Lawrence. “Our student leaders, instructors and staff were thrilled to be at the table for these important discussions. Events like these shine a bright light on CTE and show the good work we have been doing for years. We will continue to bring awareness of SkillsUSA and CTE to the federal government in every office and at every level. As change comes, we want to not only be part of it but be a leader in meeting the need for a trained workforce that can help close the skills gap in America.”
About 150 students and instructors attended the event. Participating from SkillsUSA were Benjamin Miller, Hermitage Technical Center, Va.; Ahmad Shawwal, Spotsylvania Career and Technical Center, Va.; and Brooke Johnson, University of North Carolina, Asheville. Also participating were three SkillsUSA advisors including Timothy McLeod, Spotsylvania Career and Technical Center, Va.; Thomas O’Day, Arlington Career Center, Va.; and, Todd Anderson, Green Country Tech Center, Okla. Joining them were SkillsUSA Associate Director of Training Niki Clausen and Executive Director Tim Lawrence.
Benjamin Miller, Ahmad Shawwal, as well as Stephanie Wilburn (Okla.), who did not attend the event, were announced as CTE Student Innovators. Todd Anderson, Timothy McLeod and Thomas O’Day were named as National CTE Educator Innovators. During the afternoon Innovation Fair, instructor Todd Anderson demonstrated how members of SkillsUSA, HOSA-Future Health Professionals and Business Professionals of America (BPA) collaborated to build a robot. SkillsUSA students built the robot while other students provided safety training and project support such as writing a business plan, media, and creating team shirts. Anderson is a product of CTE who teaches drafting and mentors robotics teams. Student Benjamin Miller presented his work in law enforcement on how to lift fingerprints from a crime scene. He has been involved in numerous CTE organizations and is a recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Student Ahmad Shawwal presented a project to engineer a 3D chocolate printer, combining culinary skill and applied engineering to develop an application for 3D printing outside of plastic manufacturing. Shawwal has a passion for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and has worked as a science education intern at the Smithsonian Institution.
Cecilia Muñoz, director of the Domestic Policy Council, welcomed the group to the White House. John King, senior advisor for the U.S. Department of Education spoke on the President’s education reform agenda. First Lady Michele Obama brought remarks and then the group participated in two panel discussions featuring Johan Uvin, acting assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and Mario Cardona, senior policy advisor to the White House. Cardona and Uvin presented awards to close the program.
SkillsUSA is the national organization for students in trade, industrial, technical and health occupations education. It sponsors the SkillsUSA Championships annually to recognize the achievements of career and technical education students. As a partnership of students, instructors and industry working together, SkillsUSA works to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It helps every student excel. The organization serves more than 300,000 high school, college and postsecondary students—and their instructors—in technical, skilled, and service occupation instructional programs. SkillsUSA has the active support of more than 600 corporations, trade associations, business and labor unions at the national level. Over 11.6 million people have been annual members of SkillsUSA since its founding in 1965. SkillsUSA programs teach leadership, citizenship and character development to complement technical skill training. The organization emphasizes respect for the dignity of work, ethics, workmanship, scholarship and safety.