SkillsUSA - Provides Opportunities of Success for All Students

I spent three days in Corpus Christi, Texas last week for the 2018 SkillsUSA Texas Leadership and Skills Conference. This was not my first trip to this amazing event. However, it was my first time to arrive without the task of coaching, advising, preparing, and praying for a full bus or two of my own students. I attended this year as a mere contest chair for the Community Service and Community Action Project, meaning I am tasked with recruitment of judges who are willing to donate their time for the competition, tabulating scores, etc.

Career and Technical Education teachers from across the state of Texas in public, private, charter and home schools spend months and months as SkillsUSA advisors training their students for this annual event. Their students compete first at the local and regional level to earn the right to share their talent as the very Best of Texas in events such as Community Service, Prepared Speech, Automotive, Construction, Health Science, Welding, Engineering, Cosmetology, and more. The future workforce of our country shows up in style for 3 days of hard work and excellence in action. Truly, it is an amazing event!

(Students and their advisors wait to pick up registration)

I was manning my contest space, checking students in for their competition when a student from a school district I taught at a few years ago stopped by to tell me about his competition. Joshua Pullin is an audio and video production student in his senior year at Palestine High School. I did not have the honor of teaching Josh when I worked for the district, however, as a part of the team there, I came to know him through SkillsUSA. Josh is an amazing young man who has endured significant challenges in his life both personally, and in his educational career. He was a quiet freshman when I first met him. His advisor at Palestine High, Mr. Paul Carr, brought Josh to meet me during our SkillsUSA membership drive that year. I was immediately awe-struck by his magnetic personality and compassionate spirit. This began a four year labor of love for Mr. Carr as he mentored to Josh, trained him, and traveled all over the state of Texas with him.

I ran into Josh every year after I moved from Palestine to work at a different school. He ran for a district officer position and was elected as a member of the team. This required him to attend Summer leadership camp. There, I watched him build relationships with other students while he learned valuable skills such as job interview strategies, public speaking, and leadership. Really, the only way to describe the transformation of this young man over the four years of his SkillsUSA career is “magical”.

(SkillsUSA Texas Summer Leadership Camp)

(Josh & the SkillsUSA Texas District 5 Officer Team)

(Josh and his SkillsUSA Advisor for 4 years, Mr. Paul Carr)

When I ran into Josh this year, he asked me if I wanted to come watch his presentation in the Action Skills contest. In this event, students demonstrate a hands-on technical skill that they have spent months and months practicing and mastering. They are scored on their presentation by a panel of judges in the hopes of earning a state medal. This year, Josh used a camera, computer and a green screen to place his subject, a cosmetology mannequin in this case, into many different scenarios of live action, such as dancing with clowns and riding the waves during a storm. It was amazing!

(Josh during his 2018 SkillsUSA Texas Action Skills presentation)

Now, Josh didn't win the state championship during this trip. He will not be moving on to the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky this June. Not everyone can earn this honor. However, Josh has earned many special memories that he will take with him forever. He has developed a great work ethic and learned a wide range of valuable employability skills such as integrity, team work, communication skills, and organization. Most remarkable is the level of confidence Josh now has. If you are lucky enough to meet him one day, he will shake your hand, introduce himself, and exhibit a level of confidence that wouldn't have been possible without involvement in SkillsUSA.

Of course, Josh is not the only amazing student who was part of the 2018 SkillsUSA Texas State Leadership and Skills Conference. Each and every student competitor brings something special to the event because they truly are the BEST of Texas.