SNOW HILL – New national and state recognitions highlight the success of Worcester Technical High School’s SkillsUSA program.
Worcester Tech’s SkillsUSA program has been named the 2017 Career and Technology Education Outstanding Program of Excellence by the Maryland State Department of Education. Rick Stevens, the welding teacher who leads the chapter at Worcester Tech, has been named the 2017 Advisor of the Year for Region 1 by SkillsUSA Inc. He’ll be in the running for the National Advisor of the Year title in June at the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kentucky.
Stevens attributes both recent recognitions to an active group of SkillsUSA participants at Worcester Tech.
“Last year, we were very successful,” Stevens said. “We had 92 kids compete and 53 of the 92 won medals.”
There are currently more than 100 students involved in Worcester Tech’s SkillsUSA program. The program aims to encourage students to hone the technical and professional skills that will help them as adults. SkillsUSA competitions, held locally, regionally and nationally, allow students to compete in more than 100 different skills contests. They range from cosmetology to medical math.
Stevens, who started teaching at Worcester Tech more than three decades ago, has helped out with the school’s SkillsUSA program for the past 28 years. When he first got involved, it had 30 members. This year, it has more than 100.
Stevens said that as more students began to take part in SkillsUSA, the Worcester Tech chapter began to place in more and more events at competitions.
“Because of all the awards we’re winning kids are excited to get involved,” Stevens said.
The school’s SkillsUSA success has increased even more in recent years as the entire Worcester Tech staff has given its support to the program. Any faculty member who can help a student with any upcoming competition does so. When Keyondra Snell earned a silver medal in building maintenance at the 51st Annual National Leadership and Skills Conference last year, Stevens pointed out that she’d trained with Worcester Tech’s custodial staff.
“We have complete support,” Stevens said. “That’s what this success is coming from. The whole school is involved.”
Stevens says he encourages students to take part in SkillsUSA because it builds camaraderie, helps them improve skills in their fields of interest and shows colleges they’re well rounded.
“It’s a national organization with over 365,000 members,” Stevens said. “We do community service, leadership training and kids get to compete against their peers.”
At Worcester Tech popular categories of competition include the various trades—welding, cosmetology, plumbing and the like—as well as quiz categories such as medical math.
“It’s an exciting thing for the students to do,” he said. “Nationwide it’s growing.”
As for Stevens, he says what he enjoys the most about serving as the program’s advisor is watching the students improve.
“Just seeing the excitement of the kids and how well they do,” Stevens said. “When we go to these things we get such compliments on the kids.”