High-tech companies, local businesses, government agencies and even a beekeeper are among the 2016 Business Partners of the Year honored by New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts this month.
“The active, hands-on involvement of businesses from all sectors of the economy is the key to successful career and technical education programs,” said Timothy McCorkell, president of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools and superintendent of the Monmouth County Vocational School District.
“New Jersey’s 21st century county vocational-technical schools prepare all types of students for a wide range of careers and higher education. Employers who help our students understand and experience the real world of work provide a critical aspect of career preparation,” McCorkell said.
Thousands of individuals, companies, trade unions and other employers volunteer their time and expertise as business partners for New Jersey county vocational-technical schools.
They serve on technical advisory boards to ensure that career programs meet industry standards and employer needs. They also serve as guest speakers, role models and mentors, host site visits, offer internships and scholarships, donate equipment, and hire students and graduates.
“Our business partners share a passion for their work, and a commitment to preparing the next generation for career success,” McCorkell said. “They understand that a well-trained workforce benefits their business, as well as New Jersey’s overall economy.”
Each county vocational-technical school district presents a Business Partner of the Year award annually.
Here is more information on the 2016 Business Partners of the Year recognized by each of New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts:
Atlantic County Institute of Technology recognized Barry Bruner, of Mutual Aid Emergency Services in Absecon, for his efforts in helping ACIT Health Science Academy students as they seek to become certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) as part of their senior year course work.
“Barry has been a great asset to our health sciences program for the past seven years,” said ACIT superintendent Dr. Philip Guenther. “He serves on our advisory board, works with our instructors on the program curriculum, offers many student internships at his company, and helps us secure equipment and materials donations.”
Bruner has also been instrumental in arranging the “ride along” experiences that ACIT students need in order to obtain their EMT certifications. He has also helped secure employment for 13 ACIT Health Sciences/EMT alumni.
“Our students do extremely well at state and national high school skills competitions, and the companies that hire our graduates are impressed by how prepared they are,” Dr. Guenther said. “That is in part due to Barry’s commitment to providing our EMT candidates with real world experiences, and – even more importantly – top level occupational skills development.”
Bergen County Technical Schools honored John Bryndza, a project engineer at Stryker Orthopaedics in Mahwah.
John Bryndza created the Rover Design Project, which gave students at Applied Technology High School the opportunity to collaborate with a team of Stryker professionals to solve an engineering challenge. The project evolved from a series of discussions Bryndza conducted with school staff about the skills that high-tech manufacturing companies like Stryker look for in employees, and the educational goals at ATHS.
“These partnerships with businesses are a vital component of successful CTE programs,” said Bergen County Technical Schools superintendent Dr. Howard Lerner. “They provide students with hands-on, real-world experiences that connect academic and technical studies with professional applications.
“John served as the liaison between ATHS students and staff and Stryker engineers. He established an easy rapport with our students, fostering an environment where they felt comfortable asking questions, seeking advice, and accepting critiques of their work,” Dr. Lerner said. “The ATHS staff is now working with him to incorporate elements of quality control into the curriculum, and we look forward to collaborating with John and Stryker to create even more challenging engineering and design projects.”
Burlington County Institute of Technology honored Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC), which partnered with BCIT this year to offer two innovative new programs to Burlington county high school and adult learners.
The new College Head Start program will be offering BCIT high school students many new ways to earn college credits.
“Our current Medford campus electronic and computer engineering students can now start earning college credits in their freshman year, and by the time they graduate, they will have completed the first year of an associate’s degree,” said BCIT superintendent Dr. Christopher Nagy. Plans are underway for the expansion of the program into other career majors, including culinary arts and hospitality, entertainment technologies and performing arts.
Thanks to a $770,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, advanced manufacturing and fabrication machines were purchased for the Medford campus. This will allow high school students to launch a career pathway in advanced manufacturing during the day and adult students to receive high tech hands-on training in the evening.
Camden County Technical School District (CCTS) selected Jeffrey S. Swartz, the director and CEO of the Camden County Workforce Development Board. Swartz also serves as director of the Garden State Employment and Training Association, the statewide association of workforce professionals in New Jersey.
Swartz was recognized for his on-going support of the projects, initiatives, and programs at CCTS, and for partnering with the district as an Advisory Board member, mentor and employer for over ten years.
“Jeff’s dedication and commitment to our students has had a profound effect on their career education and will help shape their future,” said Dr. Siobhan Kelly, CCTS director of admissions, job placement, and cooperative education.
“He reviews and approves our curricula, and is always willing to serve as a speaker to promote our programs. He also included students from CCTS on a steering committee that designed the Camden County One Stop Youth Center, and he continues to include them in agency functions,” Dr. Kelly said.
Cape May County Technical School District’s 2016 Business Partner of the Year is the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife.
For decades, the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife has provided the Cape May Tech agriscience, aquatics, environmental literacy, law enforcement and public safety, natural sciences and pre-engineering students with a wide-range of indoor and outdoor class learning activities, presentations pertaining to career pathways and field work partnerships.
“We’re located in an environmentally-sensitive area of our state. Our students are very attuned to that and many of them are eager to be engaged in careers involved in protecting it,” said Cape May County Technical School District superintendent Dr. Nancy Hudanich.
“Thanks to our partnership with the Division of Fish & Wildlife, our students have been able to get real-world experiences that increase their understanding of environmental issues and global citizenship, while at the same time building their resumes that will help them in obtaining college scholarships and lead to career opportunities.”
Cumberland County Technical Education Center (CCTEC) honored Team Nissan, of Vineland, for the automotive dealership’s many years of service to the school and its automotive students.
Every year, a member of Team Nissan speaks to the students about potential employment opportunities in the automotive field and stresses the importance of education. The dealership has been hiring CCTEC students since 2003. Rodney Wolf of Team Nissan currently serves on CCTEC’s Program Advisory Committee.
“At Team Nissan, we believe community involvement is the key to success,” Wolf said. “We are a third generation family-owned dealership, and we take great pride in the strong community ties we have built and maintained for over 25 years.”
Essex County Vocational Technical Schools (ECVTS) selected Joseph Jingoli & Son, Inc., the national firm managing the construction of the new Essex County Donald M. Payne Sr. Vocational Technical High School in Newark.
“One of the core principles at Jingoli is their commitment to enriching the economic stability of the communities where they work. They don’t just run a project; they become part of a community,” said ECVTS superintendent Dr. James Pedersen. “They decided to make the Payne project not just a building but a real learning experience for our students.”
Jingoli initiated an orientation program for the pre-engineering 11th graders at Newark Tech, presenting sessions on safety, engineering occupations and related engineering topics over a six-week period. The orientation sessions will continue during the students’ senior year, and they will also visit the Payne Tech construction site and shadow different workers from the occupations represented at the job site.
In addition, as part of ECVTS’s pre-apprenticeship program, students in various building construction technologies are touring the Payne site, with each group concentrating on its own area of specialization, such as electrical, HVAC, welding and carpentry.
Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT) honored Depasquale Salon Systems, a national distributor of hair, nail, skin care and cosmetic products, headquartered in Fair Lawn.
“Depasquale Salon Systems has been an exceptional partner with our district,” said GCIT superintendent Michael Dicken. “Members of their team serve on our advisory board, and they excel in keeping our cosmetology staff and our students abreast of current trends and industry standards, and they also provide educational lessons to our students and staff.
“GCIT is extremely fortunate to have this highly-regarded national company working with us,” Dicken said. “Everyone in our cosmetology program benefits from this partnership: The teachers obtain valuable professional development, and the staff and students gain valuable insight into exceptional strategies for obtaining various state licenses in the field.”
Hunterdon County Vocational School District (HCVSD) recognized Kristyna Barbella-Saja, the owner and founder of KB Multimedia in Clinton, NJ, a video, web development, digital and print graphics and social media marketing firm.
“KB Multimedia has made great contributions to the development of our visual arts and graphics students and to our district’s efforts to recruit new students,” said HCVSD superintendent Dr. Kim Metz.
Working with the district, Barbella-Saja has produced more than 40 videos and multimedia content packages showcasing HCVSD and its programs, including the general HC Polytech recruitment video and features on the Computer Science and Software Engineering Academy, the Fire Academy and the new EMT Academy.
‘While the recruitment videos were great contributions, the personal assistance Kristyna provided to our students was even more valuable,” said Dr. Metz. “Working with the graphic design and commercial arts/advertising classes, she contributed to the curriculum and worked with the students by drawing on her own background and offering suggestions and advice. Finally, she also provides photography services at Polytech’s annual Awards Night Dinner. She is a great partner and eager to do anything she can to help our schools and our students.
Hudson County Schools of Technology’s 2016 Business Partner of the Year is Antonio Quinlan, the owner/operator of Hudson River Honey and the executive director of the Hudson River Apiary Society, who worked tirelessly to bring the science of beekeeping to High Tech High School in North Bergen.
Students and staff from High Tech’s science, graphic arts, culinary arts, media arts, web design, wood technology, and building trades classes collaborated with Quinlan to create a multidisciplinary, cross-curricular approach to apiculture, the study of honey bees.
Simultaneously, Quinlan supported the student efforts to build a sustainable, non-profit enterprise called Hive Tech Honey that enables students to apply their career skills in the community. High Tech High School’s apiculture class and the Hive Tech Honey Club seeks to spread awareness about the growing threat to honey bees by sharing their research on High Tech’s own apiary, which explored mite infestation and colony collapse disorder.
In addition to presenting information, High Tech students sell Hive Tech Honey products. They include locally-sourced Hive Tech honey, honey-related food items from the culinary arts department, Hive Tech Honey t-shirts and wristbands created by the graphic design students, and all-natural cosmetic products including mint and citrus infused lip balms made by the science students from beeswax.
All profits from the sale of Hive Tech Honey products are used to maintain, grow, and sustain High Tech High School’s apiary for research and product development.
Mercer County Technical School District (MCTS) selected Stout’s Transportation, of Trenton, a provider of transportation services with a diverse fleet of passenger coaches and buses.
Stout’s Transportation staff members serve on the MCTS General Advisory Committee and mentor students in the areas of automotive technology, automotive collision and diesel technology.
“We’ve hired seven or eight Mercer County Technical School students over the last three years. The students have heart, soul and they are passionate about their work,” said Vivian Tuccillo-Giglio, Vice President of Operations at Stout’s Transportation.
Rich Tisone, the Stout’s project consultant who works with the district, noted that “sometimes, when you mix high school students with senior level technicians, it’s not a good mix. But the students we hired from MCTS were teaching our technicians computer skills while the technicians taught the teens the ins and outs of the workplace. It’s a symbiotic relationship that really works for us.”
Middlesex County Vocational & Technical Schools (MCVTS) 2016 Business Partner of the Year is McCarter Theatre, in Princeton, which has been working with MCVTS students since 2009.
“This is a tremendous partnership for our performing arts and technical theater students,” said MCVTS superintendent Brian Loughlin.
“Our students attend professional theater productions and participate in question and answer sessions with the actors and production staff. Our instructor has forged a wonderful relationship with the theater’s education director and challenged her students to be active participants in the relationship, and the McCarter staff have been very impressed with our students training,” Loughlin said.
There have been multiple opportunities for learning and growth for the students, including design competitions, auditions for roles in ensembles, and year-long collaborations with McCarter and other organizations on various original productions.
“Our students have greatly benefited from the professional leadership, experience, skills and education of McCarter Theatre, and we are honored to work with them,” said Loughlin.
Monmouth County Vocational School District (MCVSD) honored Dr. Scott Gygax of FEMERIS Women’s Health Research Center in Hamilton, NJ, for his extraordinary work with the Biotechnology High School (BTHS) internship program.
“At BTHS, the senior internship is a capstone experience through which students are given the opportunity to apply academic and occupationally-related skills at an approved workplace,” explained MCVSD superintendent Timothy McCorkell.
“It’s a collaborative endeavor in which the students and their mentors work toward mutually agreed upon goals. Emphasis is placed on the application of workplace readiness skills, like communication, teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking,” McCorkell said.
Since the start of the program, Dr. Gygax has accepted BTHS seniors as interns and provided them with invaluable experiences in the biotechnology field. Dr. Gygax has also served on the BTHS advisory board since the school was opened, and has made great contributions to the development and growth of the program.
Morris County Vocational School District (MCVSD) recognized the County College of Morris (CCM) for the college’s efforts in establishing the high school shared-time Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing (EDAM) program and in supporting the MCVSD grade 12 option Challenger Program.
Dean Patrick Enright of the Division of Business, Mathematics, Engineering and Technologies was instrumental in determining the course sequence for EDAM students, scheduling the courses, facilitating an orientation program at CCM, finding professors for the program and organizing open houses to promote the program.
Eric Pederson at CCM was key in securing a partnership for the High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program and Dean Enright played a crucial role in securing the Space Act agreement for the NASA HUNCH program.
“Dean Enright also helped to revise the articulation agreement between MCVSD and CCM to ensure our high school seniors who choose to take their courses at CCM under the Challenger Program are making the most of their experiences. He also facilitated an articulation agreement for the district’s adult continuing education programs and CCM,” said MCVSD superintendent Scott Moffitt.
Ocean County Vocational Schools (OCVTS) honored Thompson Healthcare and Sports Medicine (THSM), which has six locations in Ocean and Monmouth counties.
“We would like to acknowledge Thompson Healthcare for their generosity, commitment to education, and assistance in helping OCVTS prepare our students for the workplace or continuing their education to reach their career goals,” said OCVTS superintendent William Hoey.
The company currently employs four OCVTS graduates. For many years, Thompson Healthcare has sponsored district fund-raising events and contributed to the OCVTS scholarship fund, which enables OCVTS graduates to obtain post-secondary training and college degrees.
Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI)’s 2016 Business partner of the Year is Columbia Bank, which launched its unique educational partnership with PCTI in 2005 by creating a fully functioning bank branch in the lobby of the school.
Through this dynamic partnership – the first of its kind in New Jersey – Columbia Bank has provided internship, job shadowing and cooperative education opportunities to hundreds of PCTI students. The bank itself currently employs more than 20 PCTI alumni, both college graduates and students currently attending college while working.
Columbia Bank staff members serve on the advisory board for the PCTI Academy of Finance and helped develop Everfi, PCTI’s online personal finance course designed to meet the state-mandated high school graduation graduation requirement.
The bank also awards college scholarships to students, sends guest speakers to classes, and participated with PCTI in the Financial Services Outlook Summit at Rutgers University in October sponsored by the NJ Departments of Labor and Workforce Development and Education.
“Columbia Bank’s dedication to PCTI has generated positive and powerful results for our school community,” said PCTI superintendent Diana Lobosco. “This partnership has been the catalyst in fostering financial responsibility among PCTI’s entire student body, developing skills, meeting goals and extending far beyond the boundaries of our high school campus.”
Salem County Vocational-Technical Schools (SCVTS) recognized Holtec International, a diversified energy technology company known as an innovator in the carbon-free generation of power, which is partnering with Salem County Career and Technical High School’s welding program.
Staff members from the company have delivered classroom presentations about employment opportunities at the company and given live demonstrations. Three members of the graduating class of 2016 gained full-time employment at Holtec’s new production facility on the Camden waterfront after completing the company’s training program.
“We are incredibly fortunate to be working with such a highly-respected, world-wide business partner,” said SCVTS superintendent John Swain.
Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) honored Greg Burchette, the owner of Bridgewater Motorworks in Bridgewater.
The award recognizes Burchette’s efforts in hiring SCVTHS automotive technology students, the many hours he has dedicated to helping SCVTHS become NATEF certified, and his involvement as an active member of the SCVTHS automotive technology advisory board.
Over the past ten years, he has hired SCVTHS students on a part-time basis through the cooperative education program and also for full-time employment upon graduation.
“Mr. Burchette is not only a great asset to our automotive program, but to our entire school community,” said automotive technology instructor Alan Creveling, who nominated him for the award.
Sussex County Technical Schools (SCTS) recognized Jason Nicholas of j2n Architecture in Oak Ridge, who has served on the school’s architectural advisory board for more than 15 years.
“Jason has been an integral part of our program’s growth and industry relevance,” said SCTS superintendent Gus Modla. “He has employed our students and acted as a mentor through the structured learning and cooperative education programs. He dedicates time to critiquing and providing feedback on our seniors’ projects and gives professional presentations to the students. He has also served as a proctor for our technical skill exams and provides curriculum feedback.
“He is an excellent industry resource and community business partner for our instructor, Tom Makris, and the students. We are very fortunate to have such a strong supporter of our students and career and technical education,” Modla said.
Union County Vocational-Technical School (UCVTS) has honored TE Connectivity/Subcom, of Eatontown, which has provided key financial support and mentoring to the district’s robotics team for the past three years.
“For the first two years, they supported us with a $5000 grant each year, and this past year they added additional money to help cover our expenses to compete at the FIRST Robotics World Championship for a total sponsorship of $8500 over the course of the year,” said UCVTS superintendent Peter Capodice.
The partnership was initiated by Chester Knurek, of TE Connectivity/Subcom, the father of a Union County Magnet High School senior, who volunteers as a mentor to the robotics team.
Warren County Technical School (WCTech) recognized John Smith of Smith Motor Company in Washington, NJ.
Smith is the owner of the company, which has both a Ford dealership and a tractor dealership, and he has been hiring WCTech automotive students through the cooperative education program for many years.
“Along with generous donations, job shadowing opportunities, and serving as a key person on our advisory board, John also has come to our school many times to talk to our automotive students about career opportunities,” said Robert Glowacky, the superintendent of WCTech.