NC TSA Shares Five Ways to #TalkTSA

States and chapters are helping national TSA meet a key component of its strategic plan, “Telling Our TSA Story.” Jerianne Taylor, Ed.D., is the North Carolina TSA (NC TSA) state advisor, and the Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher education program director and a professor at Appalachian State University. “TSA provides an avenue for all students to learn about technology, engineering and design through project and problem based competitions,” she says. Indeed, NC TSA is doing its part to #TalkTSA.

State of Awareness. NC TSA is spreading the word across the Tar Heel State by:

  • Introducing TSA at the New Teacher Induction Workshops and Special Interest Sessions at the North Carolina Career and Technical Education (CTE) Summer Conference and keeping local CTE directors in the loop about everything that is going on in NC TSA.
  • Working closely with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction consultants to make sure that Technology Engineering and Design curriculum for our state ties in TSA.
  • Emphasizing the importance of TSA to pre-service teacher candidates and ensuring they are informed about the opportunities available to them through TSA.
  • Promoting a grassroots initiative. “Over the years, I’ve learned how several of our advisors were involved in TSA or one of the other CTSOs,” says Dr. Taylor. “Their involvement in these organizations is really what sparked them to become a teacher and TSA advisor.” NC TSA helps advisors see that TSA is more than just about competitions. “There are a lot of opportunities through LEAP and ACS at the local level to promote TSA and allow it to shine.”
  • Supporting chapter advisors’ efforts. For example, in a few short years, the Kennedy Middle School TSA chapter in Charlotte, NC has grown from 15 to 100 members—and now has been named the 2018 NC TSA Large Chapter Middle School of the Year.

“That first group of Kennedy STEM Magnet sixth graders has had an incredible journey,” says the lead advisor for the TSA Chapter, Mr. Anthony Fernandez—the 2018 TSA Middle School Advisor of the Year for North Carolina.

“Establishing themselves as a great foundation for a chapter that works hard, but still knowing how to have fun.” This fall, Kennedy Middle School is set to offer TSA as a Personalized Learning Experience—giving students more time per week to work on projects during school as competitions get closer.

Calling All Corners. Dr. Taylor has been working with chapter advisors such as Paul Casey at Norwayne Middle School in Fremont to help start new chapters in rural communities including eastern North Carolina. “At first, the response is usually frustration and confusion; it can be fairly overwhelming to start a chapter from scratch,” describes Casey, who’s marking almost a decade as a TSA chapter advisor. “But we open lines of communication with these new advisors and give advice, answer questions, and offer a plan of how to start small and slowly build a thriving chapter.” 

All Roads Lead to …. Dr. Taylor reports new efforts to encourage chapters to attend the TSA National Conference, and to promote TSA. That includes increased social media outreach, especially through Instagram, by Neil Williamson, NC TSA 2017–18 vice president and 2018–19 president. Since its "Building Leaders on Social Media" project was launched, NC TSA's Instagram has grown by hundreds of followers. “It really means a lot to me to represent visual productivity/accomplishments to establish a connection with our members," says Williamson. "We can showcase them and give them confidence through TSA.” In addition, as part of the Promotional Graphics competition, Sarah Jarrell, NC TSA 2018-19 secretary, created a portfolio of TSA promotional material. “As state officer, I hope to continue my promotional campaign and reach out to non-traditional students,” she says. 

It Takes a Village. As the word gets out about its good works, NC TSA has garnered the support of business, industry and higher education. Honda and The Fresh Market have stepped up. Dr. Taylor credits Pitsco Education as a key player in establishing and maintaining the Eastern Region NC TSA Conference. “They’ve worked closely with STEM East, which partners with the Lenoir Committee of 100 to make our Eastern Region Conference a success each year,” she says. NC TSA also has the backing of the Winston-Salem and Guilford County Schools CTE Advisory Boards, as well as the University of North Carolina-Greensboro's Student Government. That’s not all. “Appalachian State Career and Technology Education Program and North Carolina State University’s Technology, Engineering and Design Progam are great resources for us when it comes to judging,” says Dr. Taylor. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

Create a Buzz. NC TSA stirred up interest by hosting “Tech Night with the Charlotte Hornets.” Student members learned about STEM career paths in professional sports, talked to top Hornets executives, got a behind-the-scenes look at broadcasting by touring the Hornets’ studio, and even caught an NBA game!

It all adds up. “TSA turns timely topics into projects and problems that students can work to solve and is developing the problem solvers of tomorrow—today—through competitive events, leadership opportunities, and fun!” says Dr. Taylor.

For more information on these and other ways to spread the word about TSA, contact Dr. Jerianne Taylor at Jerianne.Taylor@dpi.nc.gov.