Executive Director’s Report: September 1, 2014

News from our National Advisor of the Year
It is always great to hear from our advisors. We received a nice note last week from SkillsUSA’s new Advisor of the Year, Mark Sponaugle of Carthage (Mo.) Technical Center. His donation of the prize money he received is a great example of how this teacher and so many others give everything possible back to their school and their students. Here is Mark’s message: “I have really enjoyed the honor thus far,” he says. “The local paper did a big article on the front page about it, and my school had a reception for me before our open house event and gave me a nice big framed picture of me receiving the award to hang in my office. My director and I have used the prize money to purchase a trophy case for Carthage SkillsUSA. I wanted the money to go for something that would last long after I was gone.” An article about this outstanding SkillsUSA advisor will appear in the fall issue of SkillsUSA Champions magazine, which comes out next month. We appreciate Cengage Learning’s longtime sponsorship of this annual award.

State Association Directors Prepare for 2015 NLSC in Louisville
On August 12-16, we had record attendance at the State Association Directors’ Annual Professional Development and Training Conference. Jen Polz, state director from Minnesota and her officer team, along with national staff, did an incredible job leading conference activities. More than 100 state directors, their assistants and staff from 46 states participated. The week began with training for eight new state association directors and Wednesday evening’s opening banquet featured a welcome to Louisville from two Kentucky state officers and Dr. Tommy Floyd, chief of staff to the Kentucky State Superintendent. During the banquet, the Best of Brand Awards were presented. Congratulations go to Best of Brand: Website – Michigan; Best of Brand: Multi-Media – Tennessee college/postsecondary; Best of Brand: Print – Wisconsin high school; Best of Innovation: Advocacy – Massachusetts; Best of Innovation: Membership – Wisconsin high school; and, Best of Innovation: Membership Engagement – Ohio.

The theme for the conference was “thinking differently in Louisville.” The week included tours of the city, two entertainment venues (possibilities for state activities during NLSC) and visits by state directors to their selected conference hotels. Training sessions included middle school membership and marketing, SkillsUSA’s online conference management system, membership marketing, the new Chapter Excellence Program and Career Readiness Curriculum and previews of the new conference toolkit for state associations. It was also great to have the alumni executive board meet in conjunction with the state directors’ conference. Alumni developed strategy for future membership engagement and state association support. State directors were excited to have their regional alumni representatives participate in the state director regional meetings.

Nearly all meal functions were sponsored and directors participated in great presentations by HP/Life/NACCE, Safelite AutoGlass, The Culinary Institute of America, Universal Technical Institute; Automotive Service Excellence, AdvancED, TIC Contractors, E Group and the City of Louisville. E Group presented new SkillsUSA 50th Anniversary promotional items and attire. State directors also saw the first samples of a new casual black jacket that Carhartt is manufacturing in the U.S.A. specifically for SkillsUSA students. Board and Foundation members will see this new product in our upcoming meetings.

Congratulations to Board President and Wisconsin State Association Director, Brent Kindred, for being our latest certified state association director. Brent presented his portfolio and sat through an intense interview process with representatives from business and industry, national staff and a certified state director.

It was great for us all to see the city, the Kentucky Exposition Center and the hotels and to experience the culture, sights and sounds of Louisville. But, perhaps the best experience of all was the networking opportunity between staff, state directors, Kentucky officials and our business partners. The 2014 State Directors’ Conference was about spending time together, both professionally and socially, and exploring the city to prepare for the national event that will change thousands of student lives forever.

Big News in Publications and Communications
Staff members in our Business Partnerships and Development Office, as well as our Publications Office, have been working hard on the 2015-16 edition of the SkillsUSA Championships Technical Standards. This guide, which includes the rules and competencies for every national competition on a CD, will be available in October. The package includes another CD with the most recent contest projects, plus a poster and flier to promote the Championships program. Thanks to Goodheart-Willcox Publisher for again sponsoring this important educational resource.

The new SkillsUSA website has been unveiled. The last time we made structural changes this big, there was no such thing as an iPhone. Content on the new site easily reflows to be viewed with a smartphone, tablet device or desktop computer. Months of work with students, teachers, state association directors, alumni and staff — plus the addition of “mega menus” — will ensure it’s easier to navigate.

Highlights

  • During the State Directors’ Conference in Louisville, we held our third meeting of the SkillsUSA-Louisville Advisory Council. The Business Partnerships and Development staff and I worked with the council members on strategy for fundraising, human resource and in-kind support for NLSC. Organizations participating in the meeting included – GE Appliances, UPS Airlines, Ford Motor Co., Atlas Machine and Supply, Inc., Amatrol Inc., Greater Louisville, Inc., Jefferson County Public Schools, the Kentucky Department of Education, the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District and the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). The council was presented with our new partner chart that included donation ranges and sponsor benefits for each proposed level. Dave Worden also presented the layout for the Championships floor. Pam Evans from GE led the meeting and was extremely enthusiastic about her visit to our final NLSC in Kansas City.
  • On August 19-20, we hosted several partners from the collision repair industry in a strategy meeting to discuss building an alliance between our school training programs, the insurance industry, collision repair shops and associations related to the industry, including SkillsUSA. The meeting was attended by executives from Insurance Auto Auctions, State Farm Insurance (board member – Russ Hoffbauer), the Collision Repair Education Foundation, ASE, National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, Automotive Youth Educational Systems and Rodney Bolton, collision repair instructor from Maryland. This meeting will lead to a broader alliance to include other stakeholders in the industry. The next meeting will be held at the ASE headquarters in November.
  • Former SkillsUSA 2013-14 national officer, Chandler Forsythe, was recently honored by receiving a request from NCCER to make a presentation during the Construction Industry Institute Annual Conference in Indianapolis held July 20-23. Forsythe is an architecture and construction student from Cleburn, Texas who is attending the University of Texas this fall to obtain a degree in architecture and eventually a master’s degree in the science of sustainability. Here is a link to the press release – http://www.nccer.org/cii-2014.
  • Kelly Horton and Gayle Silvey report that more states than ever before are using the SkillsUSA registration system for conference management. A number of states in the past have used a third party to manage conference registration which at times had them incorrectly using the vendor to input membership as well. The use of the SkillsUSA membership system allows for assurances to be made that all students are members and that all members are paid. Continuous improvements and responding to customer feedback have allowed for the SkillsUSA registration system to meet the needs of our customers.
  • “Proud to Work, Proud to Wear – Made in the USA!” The Black Jacket Campaign is nearing its launch. We have been working with Carhartt and E Group on the creation of a black jacket campaign that will emphasize its appeal to members and create an affinity program that will build demand and lead to every student owning their own jacket. Board and Foundation members will see samples of the new jacket, manufactured exclusively for SkillsUSA, at their upcoming meetings.
  • Outside interest in purchasing SkillsUSA educational resources continues to increase. Kansas FFA purchased 55 sets of Jumpstart and Propel books for their district officers and Georgia CTSOs are collectively purchasing the SkillsUSA State Officer Continuum for use by all CTSO state officers.
  • Numbers continue to be crunched as we discern membership information from the past year and discover multiple reasons to celebrate our overall increase in membership. For 2013-2014, a total of 247 new chapters were added accounting for 6,544 members. There was a direct correlation between states with the most new chapters and the use of the SkillsUSA Hotline. Seven states were responsible for and received recognition for having 10 or more new chapters:

    Arizona with 21 new chapters = 1,173 members
    California with 16 new chapters = 873 members
    Georgia with 19 new chapters = 277 members
    North Carolina with 14 new chapters = 200 members
    Texas with 24 new chapters = 472 members
    Washington with 12 new chapters = 175 members
    Wisconsin with 15 new chapters = 220 members

That’s all for now. Have a nice weekend and enjoy the Labor Day holiday. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.