International corporations, local businesses, regional health care systems, the carpenters union, the U.S. Army and even an ice sculptor are among the organizations and individuals honored as 2017 business partners of the year by New Jersey county vocational-technical schools.
“The key to successful career and technical education is the active involvement of business and industry representatives in all of our programs,” said Scott Moffitt, the president of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational Technical Schools and the superintendent of the Morris County Vocational School District.
“These companies and individuals help keep our curricula up to date, serve as mentors and guest lecturers, offer internships and real-world learning experiences, and hire our students,” he said.
“Businesses need to create a technically-trained workforce for the future. Students need to see real pathways for success in their chosen fields. Bringing the two together in a committed process requires significant effort, and the business partners we honor this year demonstrate that,” Moffitt said.
New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts each recognize an outstanding business partner annually.
The 2017 honorees are:
Atlantic County Institute of Technology (ACIT) honored Jeff Walker, the owner of Walker’s Automotive Service in Pleasantville, NJ, who has served on the ACIT Advisory Board and Craft Committee for 27 years.
“Thanks to Mr. Walker, our students get real-world experiences and develop the skills necessary to be successful in the automotive industry,” said ACIT principal Joseph Potkay.
Walker assists with curriculum revisions, provides ongoing professional development to staff and students, and has made many recommendations for equipment purchases and upgrades to the ACIT automotive shop.
He also serves as a guest speaker, facilitates student field trips to his shop, assists with ASE/NATEF school accreditation and provides students with internships during their junior and senior years.
Walker has hired many ACIT graduates, and continues to act as their mentor as they grow in experience as automotive professionals.
Bergen County Technical Schools (BCTS) recognized Snap-On Incorporated, a leading global innovator, manufacturer and marketer of tools, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions.
Snap-On provides BCTS/Paramus automotive technology and collision repair students opportunities to achieve industry-standard certifications through the company’s multi-meter and torque curricula.
Company representatives also serve as proctors and judges for end-of-program performance assessments and serve on BCTS advisory boards, contributing to the success of the automotive programs through ongoing curriculum reviews to ensure the courses meet the existing and emerging needs of the industry, recommending certifications, and participating in the design and delivery of project-based learning experiences for BCTS students.
This year, the company partnered with BCTS/Paramus to offer a tool clinic that was open to students as well as the general public.
Burlington County Institute of Technology (BCIT) honored Virtua Health System, which operates three hospitals and numerous other facilities and offices in South Jersey.
Virtua representatives have worked closely with BCIT to develop career pathways in the healthcare field. Through an affiliation agreement, students are allowed to complete their required clinical hours at a Virtua site for Practical Nursing, Certified Nurse Assisting, and Certified Clinical Medical Assisting/Certified Medical Administrative Aide. Virtua often employs BCIT graduates who successfully complete their respective training.
Several Virtua representatives have served on program advisory committees to recommend curriculum updates, as well as current state-of-the-art equipment to enhance instruction.
Camden County Technical School District (CCTS) recognized Mark Leonetti, the owner of B&M Custom Cabinetry in Bellmawr, NJ, and a 1989 graduate of CCTS. Leonetti was selected for his on-going support of the projects, initiatives, and programs at CCTS, and for working with the district as an Advisory Board member, mentor, and employer.
“Mark’s dedication and commitment to our students has had a profound effect on their career education and will help shape their future,” said Brian Burns, cooperative education teacher. “Over the years he has hired about 15 carpentry students from CCTS, and several are still working for his company. His wife, Jodi, is also very involved and supportive.”
B&M is a family-owned business, launched in in 1988.
“We have always been very pleased with the level of training and maturity that the cooperative education students possess when they come to work for us,” said Leonetti. “As we continued to grow and needed more skilled carpenters, interviewing students from a technical school has always been our first choice.”
Cape May County Technical School District (CapeTech) recognized Chef-Sculptor Douglas Gomersall, the owner/operator of Living Ice in Cape May, NJ.
For the past 17 years, Gomersall has been demonstrating his ice-carving talents and sharing his skills and knowledge with the students in the Culinary Arts program.
Students from the Pre-Engineering, Commercial Art and Career Exploratory programs also participate in events that provide experiential learning in design, layout, sculpting and 3-dimensional modeling, while integrating art history and math skills.
Prior to actual carving, Gomersall teaches students about preparation of templates for 300 pound ice blocks, helping them to exercise math skills as they design their ice pieces on graph paper. After calculating their creations on a 1/4″ to 1″ scale, the students draw their pieces actual size, creating a template that is etched onto ice blocks prior to the cutting, carving, chiseling, and grinding that brings their pieces into life.
Cumberland County Technical Education Center (CCTEC) honored Sysco Philadelphia, LLC, a division of Sysco, an international company and the largest food service distribution network in the world.
Sysco representatives provide strong leadership and guidance to the CCTEC Advisory Committee for the Culinary Arts and Hospitality program.
They have performed multiple educational demonstrations, provided guest speakers, and shared valuable industry knowledge and insight in the development of CCTEC curriculum.
The continued relationship with Sysco and their key personnel has helped the program expand and grow.
Essex County Technical Institute (Essex Tech) honored the Donald M. Payne, Sr. Global Foundation in Newark, NJ, which has partnered with the district to provide relevant, rigorous, and hands-on experiences for students interested in public service and international relations careers. The Foundation continues the legacy of the late Congressman Payne, an educator and passionate human rights advocate for local and global communities.
The 16 Law and Public safety students selected as Payne Scholars receive up to six free college credits per year from Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations. They also attend guest lectures from leaders in the field at SHU.
Thanks to the Foundation, all students in the district LPS program have heard from guest including NJ Amistad Commissioner William D. Payne, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., and representatives from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
The Foundation also supports Essex Tech LPS students’ participation in Model UN, Mock Trials and Skills USA competitions, and internships at the country prosecutor’s office and with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Explorer’s Program.
Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT) honored DCI Group, of Glassboro, NJ, the leading manufacturer of Demountable Truck Body Systems and MyGlassTruck rack systems in North America.
The company launched its first internship with GCIT in 2017: Three students worked full-time during the second semester of their senior year, gaining valuable experience in manufacturing, fabrication, and warehouse operations. Each student was offered full-time employment at the company at the end of the internship.
GCIT’s partnership with DCI is an exemplary internship model, which John Mueller, DCI’s General Counsel and Vice President of Risk Management, called a “resounding success.”
Hudson County Schools of Technology (HCST) honored, Daniel Gans, the co-founder of Hoboken Brownstone and the president of the HCST Foundation since its inception in 2009.
Gans has led the Foundation’s charge to merge industry and education, and has helped generate the funding to ensure that all HCST students are provided with innovative, real-world learning experiences.
Thanks to his leadership, students at High Tech and County Prep High Schools and Explore2000 Middle School have been given opportunities to work with world-class teaching artists and professionals in their respective fields: HCST students have studied French in Paris; donned lab coats and hypothesized with chemists at L’Oreal; and exchanged poetry with Grammy Award-winning artist Kendrick Lamar.
He has also played a key role in ensuring that students are placed in meaningful internships at successful local firms, including Eastern Millwork, Inc. in Jersey City, and receive hand-on exposure to locally-based, major manufacturers, including Goya, also in Jersey City.
Hunterdon County Vocational School District (HCVSD) recognized Dr. Christina Wilson, owner of Equiheart Veterinary Service, in Califon, NJ, and a member of the district’s Animal Science advisory committee.
Dr. Wilson’s enthusiasm and her desire to work with and engage the students has been a tremendous asset to the pre-veterinary program. She works in the classroom, lecturing on various topics and joining other class activities.
On occasion, she has arrived at school with a sick animal, allowing the students help administer medications and learn more about the animal and its illness.
She is currently working with the students on a monthly basis at the Educational Services Commission (ESC) campus to implement a herd health plan she developed for the animals, and has assisted in the development of the Youth Transition to Work grant.
Mercer County Technical School (MCTS) honored the U.S. Army. US Army representatives from the Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion, located at the Joint Base in Lakehurst, are mentoring MCTS students in all career and technical education areas, providing unique training that physically and mentally challenges them and builds lifelong leadership skills.
In addition, a three-way partnership between the Army, the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) and MCTS has produced a new competition for culinary arts students, the MRE Challenge. Students are charged with developing simple ingredient additions to the Army’s traditional field rations – meals-ready-to-eat (MRE) – that will help soldiers in combat or other remote postings produce a more palatable culinary outcome.
Piloted last year, the competition gained the attention of New Jersey SkillsUSA, a co-curricular student organization, which has introduced the MRE Challenge as a new state-wide competition.
Middlesex County Vocational & Technical Schools (MCVTS) recognized the New Jersey Carpenters Union Apprentice Training and Educational Fund, which has been working closely with MCVTS students for the past three years.
The goal of the partnership is introduce students at the Piscataway, East Brunswick and Perth Amboy campuses involved in carpentry-related programs to the many facets, roles and responsibilities of a union carpenter. The students experience a portion of the training offered at the NJ Carpenters Union Training Facility.
This unique and dynamic experience takes place twice a month during the spring semester. The curriculum includes safety, tools, OSHA regulations, construction materials, fasteners, concrete forms, metal framing, interior systems, basic skills and more.
Many students who have completed the program have been offered the chance to participate in full-time NJ Carpenters Union Apprentice Training, utilizing open billets that are only available for successful pre-apprenticeship candidates.
Monmouth County Vocational School District (MCVSD) honored Stefanie Aber, the senior vice-president of Hackensack Meridian Health for Nursing & Rehabilitation.
Mrs. Aber has been a vital partner to MCVSD’s high school and adult student nursing programs and local communities. She has provided funding that allowed MCVSD to offer a series of free Certified Nursing Assistant (can) courses, which included job placement, to English as a Second Language (ESL) and high school students from Asbury Park.
She works with teachers and administrators to guide best practices, and was a major force in the creation of three healthcare apprenticeship programs, including the first official CNA Mentor and Restorative Apprenticeship program in New Jersey, set to launch in February, 2018.
As a constant source of industry knowledge, best practices in nursing education, and guidance in navigating State Board of Nursing policies and regulations, Mrs. Aber has been a positive force in the growth of the MCVSD nursing program, helping to better align it with the rigorous expectations of the Hackensack Meridian organization.
Morris County Vocational School District (MCVSD) honored Moretrench, a national geotechnical contracting company with offices in Rockaway, NJ.
Moretrench has been a strong business partner, providing field trips and other opportunities for students in the district’s shared-time carpentry, electrical and auto service programs. The company hired a carpentry graduate last year as a dock builder.
Craig Sofio, the shop manager at the Rockaway site, serves on the MCVSD Advisory Committee and has been instrumental in the growth of the shared-time programs.
Ocean County Vocational Technical School (OCVTS) recognized Ray Soehngen, the owner of Broadway Ray, of Brick, NJ, which runs theater excursion tours from Ocean and Monmouth Counties to New York City.
In 2010, he offered theater trips as part of an OCVTS Performing Arts Academy (PAA) fundraising effort. What started as a one-time event has led to years of commitment to the PAA.
Mr. Soehngren, a great supporter of the arts, spent his professional career with General Electric, which matches charitable contributions for current employees and retirees. He has donated $26,150 to the PAA Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO), which grew to $52,300 thanks to the General Electric match.
His contributions have funded scholarships, field trips, guest professional artists and many other activities that have enhanced the learning experience for PAA students.
Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI) recognized FedEx, a key supporter of PCTI’s newest component to the district’s School of Business: Global Logistics.
FedEx representatives have served on the PCTI Business Advisory Committee for the past five years, bringing the company’s commitment to the development of a trained and knowledgeable future workforce to the curriculum implementation in many business programs, and keeping the district current on industry standards. The company has also provided guest speakers for business classes.
As a major contributor to PCTI’s Business Logistics program, FedEx has helped PCTI create a new project-based learning system that focuses on problem-solving scenarios. In addition, FedEx provides valuable job-shadowing opportunities at their Freight Operations Center at Newark Airport, where PCTI students are given tours, presentations and first-hand experience in this thriving industry.
Salem County Vocational Technical School (SCVTS) honored ARC Design and Consulting, LLC, of Elmer, NJ, which has established a strong relationship with the SCVTS Computer Assisted Design and Drafting (CAAD) program.
ARC Design accepts Salem’s CADD students for cooperative education experiences, and participates in the Program Advisory Committee.
The company has also hired four of the district’s CADD graduates in the last three years, and assists the former students by creating schedules that allow them to work full time while continuing their college studies.
Somerset County Vocational & Technical School District (SCVTS) recognized Gerald Truppelli, the owner of Graphic Concepts, Inc. in Bound Brook, NJ.
Mr. Truppelli was honored for his efforts in mentoring and hiring students, allowing them to transfer the skills they have learned in the classroom into the workplace, and teaching them on-the-job soft skills they need to be successful. Over the past three years, he has hired five SCVTS students, including four recent graduates, to work in his print shop.
Sussex County Technical School (SCTS) honored Phillips Precision Medicraft, in Elmwood Park, NJ, a leading manufacturer of advanced orthopedic implants, instrumentation, sterilization delivery systems, cases and trays.
PPM, founded almost 50 years ago, creates industry-changing innovations and unique solutions to allow their customers to achieve their most complex goals. The company is a partner of choice for the world’s largest original equipment manufacturers.
The company donated a HAAS VF-2 CNC vertical machining center to the SCTS engineering program last year, which is used every day by engineering students. Another VF-2 was donated to the engineering shop nearly 17 years ago. The common link between the two donations was Raymond Mount, who was a great supporter of the SCTS engineering program for nearly 20 years.
Ray, who passed away last year, was a strong believer in the relationship between education and the manufacturing industry.
Union County Vocational-Technical Schools (UCVTS) selected For Solutions, of Newton, NJ, which is assisting UCTECH with the installation and implementation a Model 500 Composting System to aid in the creation of a green initiative for the entire Union County Vocational-Technical School District.
This initiative will allow the district to reduce its carbon footprint and the total amount of food waste generated by the campus community. All organic waste material will be processed by the composting system to generate a nutrient-dense, high quality compost that will be used by the district and the surrounding community. For Solutions has also provided the district with access to countless bags of wood chips to be used as the binding material in the composting project.
The program will also generate many different opportunities for project-based learning for the UCTECH students as the project becomes sustainable.
Warren County Technical School (WCTech) recognized Oxford Auto and Tire, of Washington, NJ, which helps prepare students in the Automotive Technology program to enter the competitive and highly technical automotive field.
Oxford owner Brian McCatharn serves on the WCTech advisory board, where he plays an integral role in aligning the program with new industry standards. In addition, Oxford is always willing to allow WCTech to borrow tools and equipment to ensure the students are getting the best experience, and offers internships and job placement for students.
WCTech also identified the need for students to gain more experience working directly with customers, and has implemented a customer communication curriculum, which has increased students’ success when they enter the workforce after graduation. Oxford’s willingness to allow supervised student interns to interact with customers enhances their readiness for the workplace.