Sophia Walker, Mr. Bertke, and Taylor Geise react to their award at the national Convention

*Sophia Walker, Mr. Jeff Bertke, and Megan Geise react to the announcement of the Models of Excellence Award on stage at the National Convention

Ohio has a new SkillsUSA national champion! The SkillsUSA chapter at Upper Valley Career Center was recently awarded first place in the “technical skills” category for the 2023 SkillsUSA Models of Excellence (MOE) program. Models of Excellence is part of the SkillsUSA Chapter Excellence Program (CEP), which recognizes chapter achievement as it relates to the personal, workplace and technical skills outlined in the SkillsUSA Framework. The Upper Valley chapter was one of 24 national finalists to compete for this distinction during the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) in Atlanta, Ga., June 19-23, 2023. 

To be selected as a Model of Excellence, each chapter had to achieve SkillsUSA “Gold Chapter” status through an application process. A committee then identified the top chapters nationally for each SkillsUSA Framework component, resulting in 24 finalists. All finalists had to give a presentation followed by a Q&A session to a panel of judges representing various facets of business and industry. Sophia Walker and Taylor Geise represented the Upper Valley chapter.

According to Chelle Travis, executive director of SkillsUSA, “The technical skills application demonstrated by members at Upper Valley Career Center illustrates the importance of using the SkillsUSA Framework to infuse industry-centric skills into chapter programming.” She added, “Students engage in self-discovery in a measurable way while applying high-demand skills to benefit their communities. This is the seventh year the Upper Valley Career Center has achieved MOE honors. We congratulate them on becoming a national winner in a highly competitive program.” 

The Upper Valley chapter applied job specific skills to improve food access within the community. Members built and stocked five small food pantries and filled them with non-perishables, clothing and hygiene items. Students created a budget, obtained building supplies, designed and assembled pantries, and installed them in designated areas. Collaboration among multiple technical labs resulted in grant dollars to purchase construction materials and food items, as well as an ongoing schedule to maintain pantry inventories. From the design and building plans, to construction and finishing touches, each member assumed a meaningful role, connecting technical skills application to service of others. 

“The SkillsUSA Framework aligns with the educational aspects of our program along with experience in the field and life skills development,” said Upper Valley chapter advisor Jeffrey Bertke. He continued, “This initiative enabled our students to address a community need while applying transferable skills that will serve them well regardless of their chosen careers. The food pantries are already making a difference, and we look forward to continuing our service to the community while integrating framework skills application.”

The SkillsUSA Framework defines specific characteristics within each skill area – personal, workplace and technical – to ensure tangible benchmarks for student achievement and chapter programming. CEP success is measured by student competencies in applying essential workplace-readiness skills including personal responsibility, integrity, work ethic and organization in chapter activities. The intentional learning that defines chapter excellence actualizes the SkillsUSA mission of empowering members to become skilled professionals, career-ready leaders and responsible community members.