Monday, November 7, 2011

Puget Sound Skills Center

Lately my school visits have been happening faster than I can get them posted. It's a good problem to have!

Today's post is about the Puget Sound Skills Center (PSSC). Actually, I have been to PSSC three times this year already. Each visit captured a unique aspect of what PSSC does and how different groups of people come together to make the programs run.

PSSC Advisory Dinner

Last Thursday night was the PSSC Advisory Dinner. Each PSSC program has an advisory made up of current industry personnel, parents, and graduates. This event, like many at PSSC, was wonderfully catered by the Culinary Arts program. I had salmon with fingerling potatoes. Yum!

Rep. Dave Upthegrove addresses the advisory groups.

I was seated with the Fire Services advisory. Nice folks!

Jobs for America's Graduates

The week before, I attended the Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) graduation ceremony. This program is supported as a part of Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn's emphasis on preventing dropouts. OSPI was well represented by assistant superintendents Tom Lopp and Kathleen Lopp, and JAG program point person George Hollingbery. JAG boasts a 92% combined graduation and job placement rate. Marilyn Conger coordinates the JAG program for PSSC, with enthusiasm.

I addressed the graduates by touching on our vision of college, career, and citizenship. I told them I was proud of their accomplishment, but they need to seek additional school or training beyond high school to reach a career that will support a family. But what excited me the most, I told them, is that they have the potential of returning to the community as leaders. Mr. Hollingbery from OSPI told me that may be the first time they've been told they were potential leaders by an authority figure. I hope they'll hear that more in the future.

(L to R) George Hollingsbery, Kathleen Lopp, and Marilyn Conger

Michael McSweeney congratulates a student

JAG graduates pose for a picture
(L to R) Principal Sue Shields, Marilyn Conger, and Rep. Tina Orwall

PSSC Superintendents Advisory

My first trip to PSSC this fall was for the superintendent meeting. PSSC is a regional program serving students from Highline, Federal Way, Tukwila, and Tahoma. Although Highline administers the school, the superintendents from all of the districts come together to provide oversight twice a year.

At the meeting in October, Principal Sue Shields presented updates on the PSSC Strategic Plan, program enrollments, and budget. PSSC alum and current teacher Kevin Blaylock reported on the actions of staff. The superintendents asked "critical friend" type questions to help the PSSC leadership refine their plans. While Highline is home to PSSC, it takes the dedication and support of all of the participating districts. I'm sure Sue would join me thanking everyone who supports PSSC.

Alum and current staff member Dave Estes welcomed me to the meeting

Tukwila superintendent Ethelda Burke (right) listens to chef Kevin Blaylock

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