Two weeks ago Kim Johnson and I had the pleasure of attending the formal announcement of the UFT’s newest CTE initiative, “National Industry Certification for Educators,” (NICE) in New York City at the UFT Headquarters. It was great to attend the actual press conference where UFT President Michael Mulgrew along with Partnership for New York City President and CEO Kathryn Wylde, Mayor Bill de Blasio and AFT President Randi Weingarten.
We also attended a round table discussion to discuss how the model involves working closely with industry partners to provide educators with access to courses designed by industry partners so that they can earn industry credentials that meet established standards.
Four “boot camps” will launch this summer to certify 100 teachers in graphic arts, automotive technology, educational technology, and information technology. Those teachers will then share what they learned with their colleagues in an effort to create a cadre of industry-trained instructors.
LearnKey has been selected to work with the UFT teacher center in producing curricula and provide online resources that teachers can access and utilize through the program so they can be successful in the program. Sterling Roberson, Vice President of CTE for the UFT has been working on this program well over a year and it’s great to see him be acknowledged for his efforts. He also made an announcement regarding the NICE initiative back in February during the CTE annual awards presentations.
I want to recognize and congratulate Kim Johnson, our very own Director of Client Services, for her hard work in spear heading and producing the NICE initiatives first teaching project (Excel workbook) in collaboration with NICE advisory board members.
We will continue to share our involvement in the program and keep you posted on our progress!
2015 halfway point is almost here and I am pleased to announce that we have two Employee of the Month recipients for June. So join me in congratulating Sheena Chamberlain and Chip Ehlers as these two continue to dish up exceptional service and support to their co-workers.
Two common threads in reading their nominations: one, they are dedicated long tenured good standing employee’s, and two, they have a “can do” attitude when it comes to doing their jobs. Additionally, each of them are all about helping other people. In Sheena’s nomination she was noted for being our “database expert,” one who is always looking for ways to improve process and maintain an efficient operation. Chip’s nomination was about how great of a “team player” he is and can be counted on to always help anyone out in student support or packaging & distribution.
This month we will split the Q&A session so you get a little personal insight to them both:
Chip: Who is your best friend and why? My wife, We have known each other a long time. Even before we were married, we were the best of friends
Sheena: Name your husband’s favorite restaurant? Ninja – he could eat sushi every day of the week, for every meal!
Chip: What is your ideal dream job in the next five (5) years? If not at LearnKey, I would love to be a golf pro or professional basketball player.
Sheena: What is it that you like most about your job and why? I am an extrovert so it should come as no surprise…The people. I love the people I work with. There is so much respect for every employee and what they do for our company.
Chip: IF you won a million dollars, name a cause or not-for-profit you would donate a portion of that to? Cancer Research and World Hunger.
Sheena: Name your favorite meal to cook? I LOVE to cook! My favorite meals to cook are my own made up “copy cats” of some of my favorite restaurant meals. I cook everything from scratch, and challenge myself to have the end product taste even better than it does in a restaurant.
Chip: Name your favorite meal to cook? Anything barbecued!
Sheena: Who at LearnKey have you learned the most from? It’s impossible to name just one person, as I think there is something to be gained from each person here. Melanie has taught me so much about our behavior, and how to best communicate with each of my team members based on their behavior and “how they tick”. Kim continually teaches me that being a great leader means that you always have the good work your team does on your mind, and to make their accomplishments known.
Chip: What is it that you like most about your job and why? I love working with great people and adding to the success of LearnKey.
Again, let me thank you both on behalf of the entire Better Learning Systems Leadership Team for your contributions and team work. We truly are a better place to work because we have people like you on our team!
At LearnKey we are super excited about producing the new IC3 GS5 training and assessments through our video-based training courseware that covers 100% of the objectives to help you learn and pass the Certiport IC3 certification exam.
Our expert knows IC3, which is why we are proud to introduce Wyett Ihler as our IC3 GS5 expert for this course, and the entire team members supporting him in the production of this course are all IC3 certified! Wyett is a certified LearnKey expert who has assisted in the publishing process on hundreds of LearnKey courses. His kind spirit & knowledge coupled with the way he communicates are great qualities that will come across throughout the course.
Another positive about this production is our IC3 GS5 New and Improved Course is based on feedback from students and teachers so we can achieve our mission, which is to drive the ultimate learning experience! Benefits of IC3 GS5 are:
- 100% IC3 objective-based
- Simplified and streamlined presentation
- Written, created, and presented by IC3 Certification holders
- Course will be offered as three separate courses matching the IC3 exam. (Key Applications, Computer Fundamentals, and Living Online)
- Includes inline quizzes and activities to keep your knowledge in check
- Comprehensive student workbook providing real world application projects
At LearnKey, a Better Learning Systems company, we will continue to work with industry experts and partners to ensure our courseware has the perfect mix of training, pre and post assessments, and exam simulations to meet not only our education (K-12 & Higher Ed) clients but also industry teachers and military students so they can obtain their dream job and career!
Coming soon will be some back stories on what the author, writers, designers, and production team are doing to make this real fun too!
After just over six (6) months on the job our newest employee of the month has taken a “can do” attitude along with a great “team first” mentality.
That is why it gives me great pleasure to introduce Jenna Welch as this month’s Better Learning Systems/LearnKey employee of the month! Not only has she learned various roles on the LearnKey Veteran Services team she is also cross-trained in areas of our client services and accounting support groups as well. This just further demonstrates her ability to be flexible and take on projects that are not only in her area of expertise but outside her responsibility. A true utility player on our team!
Check out what her nominating manager had to say about Jenna’s performance to date “Jenna Welch has shown us that she can adapt and change to what is needed to complete a project or task. She is extremely easy to work with and has already achieved Word & Excel 2013 Microsoft Certification. I trust that when I ask her to take on a task or project that she will complete it on time if not sooner. Jenna has proven to be a valued team player and we look forward to what we can accomplish with her as a part of the LearnKey family”.
Take a minute to get to know Jenna on the personal side with this fun Q & A:
- How many siblings do you have? 11 altogether (2 brothers, 2 sisters, 2 sisters-in-law, and 5 brothers-in-law)
- What is your favorite movie? Star Wars!
- What is your favorite band? No longer together would have to be Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Three, or the original E Street Band (RIP, Clarence Clemons). Currently together…it’s a toss-up between Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, The Gaslight Anthem, The Menzingers, Against Me!, and Alkaline Trio. Please don’t make me pick just one!
- What is your favorite vacation spot? I love the mountains, but my most memorable vacation was in Tokyo
- What was your high school’s mascot? Panthers
- What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? Brownies and garlic cheese spread (delicious, by the way)
- What is/was the name of your favorite pet? My family had two tomcats named Thomas and O’Malley
- What was your first car? ’98 Dodge Intrepid (not recommended without a bottomless maintenance budget)
- If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? India
- Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? Definitely zip line
- What is the funniest saying you have heard working here? Any/every time someone besides Brian says “Are we done here?”
- If you could eat dinner with anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why? My grandpa passed away last summer so I would love to have one more conversation with him.
While I agree that Jenna tells the truth not sure I am ready to try Brownies and garlic cheese spread just yet!
Please join me in congratulating Jenna on this award as we are delighted to have her as part of our Better Learning Systems family.
Back in October 2013 our employee of the month was recognized for his excellent commitment to quality control and going above and beyond to help us improve our A+ course. Fast forward a year and a half later and we are recognizing him again for doing great work all the time and keeping our core values front and center while he does it.
It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Ben Lee on being selected as our April 2015 employee of the month. In addition to this award he was also promoted to a Senior IT position within LearnKey at the end of last year and is becoming an outstanding overall team member with the same positive “can do attitude”.
I know first hand what a great problem solver he is i.e. and getting him involved with other parts of the business is something that will be great for his career. That said, here is what his manager had to say during the nomination process:
“Before Ben joined the Tech Support team I knew of his ability to research and present information with aplomb. He glides through such requests with Ease. Since joining our team his Value has been truly measurable in the impact he has had in raising our collective knowledge and skills. I can Trust him to dig in with a vengeance and deliver great results, such as with preparing us to move our Tech Support knowledge base to a new vehicle in the near future. Ben is like a human vending machine that never fails. You put in your money and he dispenses promptly, and it is always more satisfying than you expected.”
He is such a great person please take a moment to get to know Ben on the personal side through this fun Q&A:
- How many children do you have? One baby girl who will be here in June or July.
- Who is your best friend and why? My wife is my best friend. She is the person I spend my alone time with. We can discuss anything with each other, and we both love exploring new things together.
- Name your wife’s favorite restaurant. It changes from day to day—and with pregnancy status—but she is a big fan of independent diners that provide excellent customer service and high-quality food, like Milt’s Stage Stop, The Little Brick House, and The Pastry Pub.
- What is it that you like most about your job and why? I love synthesizing raw data into a format that accomplishes a task or helps other people.
- From whom at LearnKey have you learned the most? Whomever I am working closely with. I have learned a lot about time management and priorities from Bart. Val has helped me learn more about calm, effective communication. Sheena has taught me about the importance of procedure. Brian has been a great friend who has helped me understand my own talents and interests better. Kevin is teaching me about self-motivation and drive. Jeff and Lori have taught me a ton about kindness and generosity. I can’t say who has taught me the most, but I can say that I have learned something from everybody at LearnKey.
- Name a place you want to take your wife for vacation. I would love to take my wife to Germany for a month in autumn or winter.
- What is your ideal dream job in the next five (5) years? My ideal job would entail helping other people gain literacy in language and music.
- Name your favorite meal to cook. There are several meals that I enjoy cooking: 蛋饼(Chinese crepes), steamed Chinese food, Yorkshire pudding pancakes (British crepes), and Tomato soup with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.
- If you won a million dollars, name a cause or not for profit you would donate a portion of that to? I would donate money to local small business start-ups that could help make quality education available to both adults and children.
Again, please join me in congratulating Ben on this recent accomplishment and if you know him it’s a pretty good bet in the future we will be saying “third time is a charm!”
You always remember when you meet people who are smart and make things appear easy to do. Our newest Better Learning Systems/Know Your Talents employee of the month Melanie Benitez has won over our entire company with that style of work over the past year and a half.
That is why when we wanted to introduce a “Culture Coach” she was the perfect person in our company to launch something new like this, and has successfully started by working with our LearnKey Production teams first. Rolling out something new to employees is a big deal and having someone like her with a positive “can do” attitude is a great quality and strength, which Melanie leverages successfully with her peers.
One who doesn’t like to say no (High P!) and gets things done as quickly as “the snap of a finger” has even been compared to that of Barbara Eden from the TV sitcom “I dream of Jeannie!” Melanie just makes things happen. Supporting internal and external customers and consultants with great success is another part of her job, and couple that with the great reputation she has with long-standing trusted partners such as Maricopa Workforce Connections, WIA folks, and MAXIMUS that is a true testament to the type of professionalism she brings our company.
Please take a moment and get to know Melanie’s personal side with a fun Q&A:
1. How many siblings do you have? I have one older sister and one older brother and then a younger step brother and step sister.
2. What is your favorite movie? Have lots of favorites but I would have to say “Blast from the Past” is my top favorite.
3. What is your favorite band? No favorite really, listen to all kinds of music from Christian to Classic Rock. Like a lot of variety in what I listen to.
4. What is your favorite vacation spot? Napa Valley – could spend an entire summer there just learning about wine and visiting all the amazing eateries there.
5. What was your high school’s mascot? Bulldog
6. What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? I don’t know about a combination of foods, but I did try chicken feet once in Chinatown in LA.
7. What is/was the name of your favorite pet? Well I have two, both my pups I have right now. Annie is a Beagle and Hudson is a Brussel Griffon – can’t imagine life without them!!
8. What was your first car? A 1970 Chevy Chevelle – wish I still had that car!!
9. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? I would love to see Italy!
10. Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? Ummm, that would be none of the above. Did get into a hot air balloon one time and that was pretty amazing…this stuff… a bit too “risky” for me.
11. What is the funniest saying you have heard around here? Last week from a client during a PDP Certification workshop “If you have to eat a frog don’t stare at it too long” was a new one to me and quoted from Mark Twain.
12. If you could eat dinner with anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why? I would probably say my grandfather, he was a very firm but kind German man, would be fun to have a behavioral conversation with him!
Please join me in congratulating Melanie on her display of all our core values Ease, Value, and Trust, while being a terrific team member and part of the Better Learning Systems family. We are both proud and very fortunate to have her on our team!
You can always tell when someone loves their job. It’s not in what they say, it’s the results they achieve, and this month’s Better Learning Systems/LearnKey employee of the month is Susan Havens, a Veteran Services Representative who has a passion for helping students. This is evident in the way she supports the sixty-five (65) plus students she works with who are going through our Blue Ocean IT & Career Ready program!
Even though Susan has only been with LearnKey for four (4) months she brings passion, commitment, and discipline to her job each and every day. Her manager had this to say during her nomination:
“Susan has done an amazing job taking the roll of supporting our Veteran Students, and has really helped mentor and motivate them to stay on track and achieve their goals. She is a true display of our core values by earning trust from her team members that she is going to follow through on any task she is given and is an absolute professional when it comes to customer service. We truly value her ability to dig in and figure out how to complete a task on time and she makes it easy for students to like her as she is always engaging with them frequently to ensure they are moving along in their coursework and removing any challenges they face”.
We strive to make LearnKey a fun place to work and Susan fits right in with her funny personality and natural “can do” approach to supporting other team members. Take a minute to get to know the personal side of Susan through this fun Q&A:
- How many siblings do you have? I am number 3 out of 3 brothers and 4 sisters.
- What is your favorite movie? The older comedies because they aren’t so crude…like “The Man Who Knew too Little,” “Grumpy Old Men,” the “Vacation” Movies w/ Chevy Chase, and “What About Bob.”
- What is your favorite band? I love the 80’s Rock Bands…like Chicago, 38 Special, Foreigner, and Aerosmith.
- What is your favorite vacation spot? The central coast in California Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, San Louis Obispo area. Still a quiet beach community.
- What was your High School Mascot? A Porterville Panther.
- What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? Honestly, I avoid weird foods at all costs! I’m not a big fan of weird or things that are considered NOT food. I will eat most anything, but weird.
- What is/was the name of your favorite pet? My favorite pet was a little Chihuahua named Annie.
- What was your first car? A yellow Datsun B210 and my favorite car was a 76 Camaro when I was a senior in High School.
- If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? I’ve been most everywhere, but I would really like to go to Italy and visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Rome and Jerusalem and Greece.
- Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? I would probably have a higher percentage of survival zip lining.
- What is the funniest thing you have heard working here? Nothing specific, but I work with a bunch of witty people who crack me up everyday.
- If you could eat dinner with anyone past, present, or future who would it be? Bill Murray. He cracks me up and I love his sense of humor!
Please join me in congratulating Susan on being our February 2015 employee of the month, and now that I know she does not eat weird food so much for her trying my home made Chili!.
Join me in welcoming in 2015!
Its always exciting to start a new year especially when you have a great team. No better way to do that than talking about our great people. So it gives me great pleasure to announce our first 2015 BLS/LearnKey employee of the month, JJ Embleton, who is our lead on the LearnKey production design team.
JJ’s job is not easy as he plays a key role in making sure our course designs are modern, effective, and drive learning engagement. A great example is the work he did around our Security+ course the end of last year and how he lead the team fostering creativity and providing feedback. Here is what his nominating leader had to say about his efforts:
“It’s hard to choose just one course where JJ has exceeded my expectations as there have been several courses over the past six months where the Design team has had to meet crazy tight deadlines, Flash CC included. He ensures the courses we are releasing are up to the standard we have come accustomed, all while rallying the team alongside him. He does this with his strong organizational skills and a relentless positive attitude of ‘it may be hard, but we can do it.'”
We are fortunate to have JJ as part of our team and along with being a great co-worker we wanted to share a little about his personal life. So take a minute to get to know him through this fun Q&A:
1. How many siblings do you have? One Brother and one sister both younger.
2. What is your favorite movie? Haha! It changes about every week for me but right now it is Big Hero 6.
3. What is your favorite band? That is also another one that changes often, but I have been listening to a lot of Archive lately.
4. What is your favorite vacation spot? Anywhere with good vistas and good hikes. I love hiking with my family!
5. What was your high school’s mascot? The Panthers.
6. What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? I don’t know if it is exactly food, but recently when I was super sick and probably doped up on cold medicine, I mixed Grape Airborne with milk… It ended up being pretty good.
7. What is/was the name of your favorite pet? Tango. He was a Yellow Labrador I had pretty much all through growing up.
8. What was your first car? 1998 Ford Taurus
9. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? I would love to go anywhere in the Scandinavian/Icelandic regions.
10. Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? Sky dive.
11. What is the funniest saying you have heard working here? “Mmm, hot brownie…in my mouth”
12. If you could eat dinner with anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why? My Grandpa Chuck. I knew him well when I was younger but he passed away and I think it would be really fun to get to know him better as an adult.
Please join me in congratulating JJ on his recent success and thanking him for his contributions to our great team!
As we go into the holiday month of December it gives me great pleasure in recognizing our newest Employee of the Month. It has been a treat to watch him develop and grow over the past year into a true example of someone who demonstrates our core values (ease, value, and trust) each and every day. So please join me in congratulating one of my favorite team members, Beau Shakespear, our marketing and trade show coordinator, as this month’s Better Learning Systems/LearnKey employee of the month.
Beau has become someone who not only gets the job done on time every time, but really “stays ahead” by anticipating the needs of his customers, our employees, sales, and marketing teams. He displays a true “can do” attitude and is extremely easy to work with and has such an honest and caring demeanor. Trust me, we throw a lot of changes his way, such as: last minute hotel/travel revisions ( I am the biggest offender), urgent updates to our course release schedule, revising our course catalogs, trade show changes, and he does it all with a smile and never a sign of any frustration.
Because of this he has established a high level of trust with everyone in our company, brings tremendous value to our operating groups, and has the respect of not only our employees and leadership team, but also our LearnKey partners.
Take a minute to learn some fun facts about Beau and his family:
1. How many children do you have? One, Kezia Mae Shakespear
2. Who is your best friend and why? Definitely my wife. She puts up with me and we basically have telepathy. And we are constantly finishing each others… sandwiches? (two movie/tv show references right there =) )
4. Name your wife’s favorite restaurant? Spicy Tuna. A sushi restaurant in Vegas.
5. What is it that you like most about your job and why? I love that I really never know what I am going to be doing each day. Also I really enjoy having the opportunity to work with all of the teams at LearnKey.
6. Who at LearnKey have you learned the most from? Hands down, Kim Johnson. Whenever there is a work decision I have to make I think W.W.K.D (What Would Kim Do)? But seriously she has taught me so much and helped me get the marketing team on track.
7. Name a place you want to take your wife for vacation? My wife would love to go to Ireland.
8. What is your ideal dream job in the next five (5) years? I need to win the lottery or find a rich relative. Because I would love to be a stay-at-home-dad. Kezi has me wrapped around her finger and I am totally fine with that. =) In reality I love my current job. I would like to see the marketing department grow and be doing some kick butt campaigns, high web sales, active social media presence, while promoting and protecting the LK brand.
9. Name your favorite meal to cook? I can make a mean pot of Gumbo.
10. IF you won a million dollars, name a cause or not for profit you would donate a portion of that to? There is an orphanage in Guaymas, Mexico that I have spent time at. I would makes sure they were taken care of.
Again, please join me in congratulating Beau as this month’s BLS/LearnKey employee of the month, and now I am off to buy him lottery tickets in hopes of him winning the lottery, becoming a stay at home dad, and spending time with his lovely wife and daughter!
Some people have a way about them that makes other people respond positively. That is exactly what Jessica Staples does for our veteran students and why she has so much success with them and the vocational rehab counselors that support them as well. That is also why Jessica is our November BLS/LearnKey employee of the month. It was six months ago, almost to the day, that we had the opportunity to bring her on board as a Veteran Services Representative supporting our veteran students. Jessica is also a veteran and can relate to students and motivate them in a way that brings out the positive in them to have the confidence to succeed.
She displays our core values each and every day. Ease comes by the way in which she communicates with students and veterans, always positive and with a “can do” approach. Value is what she brings to the team with her professionalism, top notch customer service skills, and the way she motivates her students. Trust is something she creates everyday, earning it not only with students, but peers and VRC’s.
Here is what her manager had to say during her nomination: “Jessica has shown an amazing amount of professionalism and every day demonstrates excellent customer service skills in her position here at LearnKey. I truly appreciate her ability to adapt to change here at LearnKey while we focus on continuous improvement. I value her knowledge, and experience as a military veteran herself and trust that she has the best interest for the students and LearnKey.”
Please take a few moments to learn a bit more about her outside the office with a fun Q&A:
1. How many siblings do you have? Two and a half. One older sister, one younger sister and a brother on my dad’s side
2. What is your favorite movie? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. What is your favorite band? The Strokes! Or pretty much any classic rock band.
4. What is your favorite vacation spot? Hawaii or Palau
5. What was your high school’s mascot? A Buffalo
6. What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? Ranch mixed with pasta and salad (I was hungry…and didn’t have a lot of time to eat one at a time). Also, ranch makes everything taste better.
7. What is/was the name of your favorite pet? Toto (he looked just like Toto)
8. What was your first car? Ford Taurus SES 2001 Sedan
9. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? Ireland, to get to know m’roots!
10. Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? Zip Line…I’d like to stay as close to the ground as possible LOL
11. What is the funniest saying you have heard working here? It was a conversation that Tiffany was having over the phone with her husband,
“Well if she wants to start dressing like that, she can stay home from preschool!!”
12. If you could eat dinner with anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why? My grandfather on my dad’s side because I never got to know him and he died before I was born.
Congratulations Jessica as we are so fortunate to have you as part of our team!