At this year’s 54th Annual World of Wheels Car Show, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, local high school students took first place with their 1966 Ford Mustang over professionals from all around the Pittsburgh region. These students are part of the Collision Repair program at the Steel Center for Career and Technical Education in Jefferson Hills. The students who attend Steel Center can attribute some of their success to Executive Director, Kevin Rice, who was just named the March 2015 Dignity and Respect Champion of Greater Pittsburgh.
Rice grew up in Washington County where his values and attitude toward education and empowerment were formed by his parents and five siblings. Rice was raised in a very modest family but was always taught the importance of giving back to the community and helping others. Rice attributes a lot of his values to his father who is disabled. Rice was taught a lot by watching his father never let his disability affect him. Rice learned through his father that “some people own their adversity and others have their adversity own them.”
A graduate himself of a vocational-technical high school, Rice went on to earn a Master of Education in Counseling from California University of Pennsylvania and a second Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Penn State University. He knows the importance of education even if it’s not done through the traditional school systems. More than 600 high school students attend Steel Center for Career and Technical Education from 11 school districts in Allegheny County, and more than 500 adults attend to learn new job skills or to develop previous skills.
Rice is also dedicated to creating a diverse workforce within his staff. Rice wants to ensure that everyone from the board members to the custodians bring something different to the Steel Center. “I want to have a staff that comes from all walks of life and reflects the diverse students that we have” Rice explained.
Melody Cater-Frye, a colleague of Rice’s, nominated him and described him as a servant leader. “He believes in equality and empowerment of others and believes that everyone is important in the workplace.”
Rice believes that an organization should make its people their brand and if you invest in the people, your organization will thrive. A mutual respect exists among his entire staff, which creates an inclusive environment and therefore supports a strong workplace morale.
Aside from the work he does at the Steel Center, Rice is very involved in the community. He is the president of the Washington County Drug and Alcohol Commission board of directors and is on the board for the West Jefferson Hills Chamber of Commerce. He also received the 2013-14 Pennsylvania SkillsUSA Western Region Director of the Year Award.
Rice and his wife Cheryl live in Scenery Hill and are raising three children, Cody, Caroline and Cameron. Rice tries to raise his children with the same values his parents instilled in him. He hopes he can teach them the importance of care and compassion for themselves and others, and how hard work can brighten their futures and the lives of people they come into contact with.
Do you know an individual who makes a positive impact and promotes an environment of inclusion? If so, nominate the person in your life you feel has made a difference for the Dignity & Respect Champion Award! This prestigious award recognizes people who are engaged in their communities, live by the principles of dignity and respect, and promote an environment of inclusion.