SkillsUSA SkillsUSA Champions Fall 2010 : Page 20

Gutshall fondly recalls one of the many beneficiaries of the new direction. “I had a boy who started school wearing sunglasses every day, and everyone thought, ‘This kid is odd.’ It turned out he had a problem with eye contact. He came to my leadership meetings and was the only one who signed up for Extem-poraneous Speaking. The first couple times I worked with him, he couldn’t look at me, but he went on to win district and placed fourth at states. More importantly, he joined the military, and he could look people in the eye.” Driving Gutshall’s leadership initiatives has always been SkillsUSA’s Professional Development Program. She encourages her students to embrace one of its key components: community service. Over the years, she has orchestrated a variety of projects, but the one she’s most proud of blends her students’ technical skills with their desire to serve. “We’ve been doing a project called ‘Hair for You,’ ” Gutshall says. “We raise money to provide free wigs to cancer patients, and what’s great is that it’s part of our trade area. The women come in, we measure them and help them get exactly the color, fit and style they want. It’s not just about giving them the wig, but it’s about their spirits being lifted, and the students have learned a lot from it.” New ways to approach old problems Gutshall’s strength as a teacher, role model and motivator is evident in the way she maneuvers the learning roadblocks all teachers face. “I think when you meet adversity, you have to take risks, you have to try new things,” she points out. “You look for new ways, new presentations.” That philosophy led to an unexpected (and furry) guest accompanying Gutshall and a student on the competition circuit a few years back. “I had a great, dynamic kid, but she would not get up and talk,” Gutshall remembers. “Well, she loved animals, so I said, ‘You could do something in the Job Skill Demonstration contest with an animal!’ So we did harvesting of rabbit wool on an angora rabbit, and we traveled first to states with a rabbit and then to nationals. It was so much fun, and she got to meet so many people because of her rabbit. And she won the gold medal!” It’s fitting that when Gutshall tells this story, the gold-medal ending is almost an afterthought. After all, the achievements she’s most proud of, the ones that glitter enduringly in her memory, are the ones where her students have experienced their own “I can do this” epiphanies — with or without an accompanying medallion. “When people say my ‘achievements,’ ” the advisor counters, “I feel like I’ve had SkillsUSA experiences and have been blessed to have students have these great achievements. “I just do what I do because I like seeing the students succeed and grow, and that’s what it’s about for me. I’d much rather not be in the limelight, but be in the back-ground and try to be there for them.” • REGION 2 REGION 3 REGION 4 REGION 5 Rose Blevins teaches employability skills to special needs students at Kecoughtan High School in Hampton, Va. A SkillsUSA advisor for the past six years, she was the first career and technical education instruc-tor in the area to involve these students in SkillsUSA, raising their self-esteem and helping them integrate into mainstream society. 20 SkillsUSA Champions Fall 2010 Linda Ward is a cosmetol-ogy instructor at Mecosta-Osceola Career Center in Big Rapids, Mich., and has spent the past 15 years as a SkillsUSA advisor. She’s led her students to national championships not only in Cosmetology, but Opening and Closing Ceremonies as well, indicative of the value she places on the leadership aspects of SkillsUSA training. Jayson Floyd is a service ca-reers instructor at Canadian Valley Technology Center in El Reno, Okla. Serving SkillsUSA as an advisor for the past 12 years, Floyd deals primarily with students who have special needs or troubled pasts. Getting those students involved in SkillsUSA has been Floyd’s first step in helping to turn their lives around. Roy Angle teaches automo-tive technology at Pocatello (Idaho) High School. Angle has spent 33 years serving SkillsUSA as an advisor and has coached many students to victory in automotive and leadership contests. His dedication, passion and enthusiasm have inspired many other area instructors to start SkillsUSA chapters in their schools. • Photos: Lloyd Wolf

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