ArmyEdSpace Spotlight

Denise Foster, SkillsUSA

Denise Foster
Winfield, West Virginia
Dental Assisting Instructor, SkillsUSA National Advisor of the Year

Denise Foster has been a dental assisting instructor at Putnam Career and Technical School in Eleanor, West Virginia for 30 years. Honored at the 2015 SkillsUSA conference, she is the first SkillsUSA member from her state to receive the Advisor of the Year award.

I have been a dental assisting instructor at the Putnam Career and Technical Center for 30 years. I was a student in the program when I was in high school and also a student member of the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA), now called SkillsUSA. I teach leadership, personal skills, workplace ethics and communication. Additionally, I supervise a dental clinic that serves low-income families with free dental services and teach Sunday school and church youth group.

I am not associated with the Army, except through my daughter who served 11 years in the Army National Guard. She received an honorable discharge two years after serving time in Afghanistan. She was a Staff Sergeant and received a Bronze Star upon completion of her deployment to Afghanistan.

I have always been a big supporter of the Army as a viable choice for my students. Every year, I invite the local recruiter to come to my classroom and explain the benefits the Army provides as they follow their career paths.

Q: How did you become involved with the Army?
I have been a professional member of SkillsUSA for 30 years and was a student member before that, and throughout my experiences with SkillsUSA I have witnessed the Army’s dedication to the organization. When the time came for my daughter to choose a career, she chose the Army National Guard. Even though she is no longer a member of the National Guard, she received excellent training, and her involvement with SkillsUSA is the only other experience that comes close to the training she received in the Guard. SkillsUSA focuses on personal, workplace and technical skills. I have seen first-hand how the Army considers these to be valuable skills for Soldiers and citizens alike. 

Q: How has your partnership with the Army made a difference to SkillsUSA?
I attended the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI), and I know that experience is one the students are still talking about. Advisors and students may not understand the level of support the Army gives SkillsUSA, but the Army and SkillsUSA have had a long-standing partnership for many, many years. For example, the Army has provided mobile units at many SkillsUSA national conferences, where students go inside and investigate various careers available through the Army. Not all students experience this opportunity while they are still in high school. Also, the Army band usually plays music for our students as they make their way around the national convention center. It is so comforting and uplifting to hear them playing and singing strong, patriotic songs. 

Q: Why do you feel it is important to support the Army as a leader in your community?
A country is as strong as its Army. In the community that I live in, a small town in West Virginia, we support the Army by encouraging our sons and daughters to get involved. There is no bigger honor than to say ,“My son/daughter is serving in the United States Army.” My support of the Army as a leader in the community is important because our community needs leaders who will defend the less fortunate or weak, be strong and courageous in the face of danger or struggle, be of good character and have impeccable work ethic. These are the qualities the Army instills inSoldiers, and when the time comes, those Soldiers become invaluable citizens in our community. 

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