Business Partners of the Year honored in 2013 by New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts include state and national corporations, health care facilities, local businesses, architects and information technology companies, county and federal officials, an opera and theater arts conservatory and even a professional playwright.
“The diversity of this year’s honorees demonstrates the enthusiastic involvement of businesses and professionals throughout the state who support career and technical education, and reflects the wide range of educational opportunities offered by our schools,” said Dr. Howard Lerner, president of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools and the Superintendent of Bergen County Technical Schools.
New Jersey’s 21st century county vocational-technical schools are preparing all types of students for a wide range of careers and higher education, thanks to the involvement of thousands of individuals, companies, trade unions and colleges and universities who understand that a well-trained workforce benefits everyone in our state, Dr. Lerner said.
“Our business partners share their experience and expertise in order to ensure that our programs meet current industry standards and needs. They serve on our advisory boards, donate equipment, serve as lecturers and student mentors, offer internships and scholarships and hire our students,” he said.
“They all understand that employer involvement is the key to successful career and technical education programs, and they are passionate about the continued growth and evolution of our schools, and the benefits that provides to New Jersey’s economy,” Dr. Lerner said.
Each county vocational-technical school district presents a Business Partner of the Year award annually.
In addition, the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools named the New Jersey Business & Industry Association as the statewide Business Partner of the Year in recognition of the association’s strong support for career and technical education programs offered by all 21 county vocational-technical schools.
The 2013 Business Partner of the Year honorees are listed below.
Atlantic County Institute of Technology: Reliance Medical Group, LLC, Pleasantville, NJ
Internships prepare high school students for college, technical school or in-field careers, and they are the core of the learning experience for those studying medical sciences at ACIT.
For the past three years, Reliance Medical Group LLC has provided numerous ACIT career tech and academy students with hands-on learning and on-the-job training through internships in various specialties and locations. Many students who intern at Reliance go on to become part of the group’s medical team after graduation.
Reliance has become an integral business partner in the education of our students, and was recognized at ACIT’s 1st Annual Academy Awards ceremony in the Outstanding Internship Provider category.
Bergen County Technical Schools: Lou Lento, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, US Department of Labor, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
During the 2012-2013 school year, Mr. Lento provided a two-day OSHA-10 training and General Industry Course Certification for 25 plumbing students in the Bergen County Technical School Adult and Continuing Education Division. This training greatly enhances students’ ability to obtain work after graduation, as the certification now a requirement on many job sites.
Mr. Lento re-arranged his own schedule in order to accommodate the school class schedule and provide the certification training at our school site, and he offered the training at the lowest possible cost to our students. He has generously committed to providing the OSHA-10 certification training again during the 2013-2014 school year.
Burlington County Institute of Technology: Pemberton Fabricators, Rancocas, NJ
Pemberton Fabricators (Pemfab) produces light and heavy steel equipment, products and parts for America’s manufacturing and service industries, and has supported students in the welding and computer science programs at BCIT for the last 20 years.
Many students have continued employment with Pemfab after graduation from BCIT and the company currently employs two “school to work “students. Pemfab continues to work with BCIT to assist and provide real world experiences for our students on a daily basis.
Camden County Technical Schools: Sanders Home Services, Voorhees, NJ
The partnership between Sanders Home Services and Camden County Technical Schools spans more than 25 years.
The Sanders staff has hired cooperative education and full-time employees from the district, donated equipment, served as members of the advisory boards for verious programs, presented in classrooms and even provided recommendations regarding the district’s building facilities.
Sanders Home Services is about to open a 13,000 square foot Energy Conservation Center, which will be open to the public and host school groups interested in learning more about the building trades.
Cape May County Technical School District: Dr. Eric V. Thomas, Sunshine Dentistry, Rio Grande, NJ
Sunshine Dentistry is a supporter and active proponent of the Cape May County Technical School District. Since 1996, Sunshine Dentistry has been an approved clinical rotation office for our program.
Dr. Eric Thomas and his exemplary staff are wonderful role models for our students, as they focus on compassionate patient care and comfort, skill and expertise, and patient preventative maintenance in assisting patients of all dental backgrounds. Working at Sunshine Dentistry ignites the enthusiasm of Tech’s Dental Assisting Program students, and the practice also provides numerous employment opportunities.
Dr. Thomas also serves on the Tech’s Dental Assisting Advisory Board, providing important insights into dental best practices, trends and technology.
Cumberland County Technical Education Center: Keen Compressed Gas, Wilmington, DE
Keen Compressed Gas, a leading supplier of welding equipment and supplies and industrial, medical, laboratory and specialty gasses in the Mid-Atlantic region, has been a key partner with CCTEC for over 20 years.
The Keen staff works closely with CCTEC’s instructors on the latest innovations and products, so that instructors and students stay up to date with what is new in industry. They bring experts from major welding-related supply companies into our classrooms to speak to our students. Keen has also helped maintain our welding department by donating new welding screens, painting the welding booths and giving our classroom a facelift with new literature and new banners.
The company has been an enthusiastic supporter of our SkillsUSA teams: Willard Keen, vice-president of sales and marketing, has led the effort to provide support and product knowledge, so that students have the opportunity to succeed not only in the competition but in the real world. Last year, Mr. Keen organized the first welding field trip to Miller Electric, where he had experts in the field assisting the students and answering their questions.
Essex County Vocational Technical Schools: Gary Bloore, Founder and Team Captain of IRONBOUND USA
Ironbound USA is an innovative, socially conscious and principled manufacturer of quality lifestyle, apparel and accessories products, all of which are made in the United States. Ironbound’s mission is to create jobs and increase job readiness skills. Gary Bloore has more than 20 years of experience in global manufacturing.
The company is partnering with Newark Tech to introduce students to the product development process and entrepreneurial concepts. The S.E.E. program (Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship) for juniors is an introduction to social enterprise, entrepreneurship and business skills. The P.P.D. program (Parallel Product Development) for seniors is a more advanced and focused new product development program.
The two programs provide students with real life, practical business experiences in an entrepreneurial setting. In addition to the business curriculum, both programs emphasize the importance of personal presentation skills and require a working resume and completion of a mock professional job interview.
Gloucester County Institute of Technology: Ryan McMullen, Territory Manager, US Foods, Bridgeport, NJ
Ryan McMullen has worked as GCIT’s food service product specialist for the past three years. He is dependable, efficient, and unfailingly supportive of our program, school and students. Our district has never worked with a sales representative who gives as much attention to detail as he does.
He finds us guest speakers, arranges warehouse tours and has generated thousands of dollars worth of product donations dollars to our district. Ryan also projects a knowledgeable and positive attitude when dealing with our students and kitchen staff, addresses conflicts with remarkable patience and admirable tact, and has gone out of his way to help us when we were in need of products or donations for our Golf outing and our Cheetah Pit BBQ events. Ryan is a valuable member of the Culinary Arts advisory committee and has worked as a NOCTI and FCCLA evaluator on many occasions.
Hudson County Schools of Technology: Laurent Lisimachio, Gensler, New York, NY
Laurent Lisimachio is a Principal at Gensler, a global architecture and design firm. Based in the firm’s New York office, Laurent has more than 15 years of experience designing retail, corporate interiors and education projects. He is passionate about sustainability, an integral part of his designs. Always ready to share his personal approach and design process with others, he is a mentor to younger staff in the office.
Laurent has been involved with HCST for more than two years, and has worked closely with the architecture and design program (AACT) as a member of the advisory committee. He reviews and approves the instructor’s curriculum and assessments, making sure students will be college and career ready when completing the architecture major. He has also taken architecture majors on tours of Gensler’s Manhattan office and communicates regularly with teachers and instructors to provide feedback and constructive criticism.
Hunterdon County PolyTech: Tractor Supply Company, Ringoes, NJ
Tractor Supply is the largest retail farm and ranch store chain in the United States, with more than 1,200 stores in 48 states. Founded in 1938, the store supplies products ranging from welding and livestock supplies, to animal care products and work wear. The company also offers pet items and hunting supplies, animal feed, power tools, and lawn and garden products.
Tractor Supply of Hunterdon County has donated more than $9,000 worth of supplies and equipment – including nuts, bolts, fasteners, paint and hand and power tools – to Hunterdon County Polytech’s auto body, auto services, auto technology, construction and energy technologies programs. The company is a true partner in helping to ensure that Polytech students and programs have sufficient supplies and tools to provide superior CTE programs.
Mercer County Technical Schools: Capital Health Medical Center, Pennington, NJ
The partnership between Capital Health and MCTS allows us to offer more opportunities to our secondary and postsecondary students. Scott Clemmensen, Capital Health’s Vice President of Human Resources, provided much-needed guidance during the planning process for the full-time Health Science Academy, an academic program for high school students interested in the health care field, which launched in 2010.
Capital Health is also a clinical site for postsecondary students enrolled in licensed practical nursing, medical assistant and health technology programs. The students are included in professional development opportunities offered at the facility. Four postsecondary graduates are employed by Capital Health, and are using the tuition reimbursement benefit to advance their careers by becoming Licensed Practical Nurses.
Mr. Clemmensen is an active member of the Health Science Academy’s advisory committee and the district’s General Advisory Committee. Other supervisors at Capital Health have become involved as members of the Licensed Practical Nurse Advisory Committee.
Middlesex County Vocational & Technical Schools: Chrystal Skillman, Playwright, Brooklyn, NY
Chrystal Skillman is an award-winning author and published playwright. Her plays have been produced Off Broadway through the Manhattan Theatre Club, and in Chicago and Boston. She also teaches playwriting at Samuel French, Inc.
Crystal spent a year in a playwriting residency with our performing arts program, where she conducted workshops, guided our students in writing their own work, coordinated the writing of three professional plays for our students and provided crucial recommendations for students applying to BFA playwriting programs.
She also mentors students and has worked energetically to procure valuable internships for them at the Theatre Development Fund-subsidized training programs in New York and the Manhattan Theatre Club training program. A in the Theatre Development Fund WorldLab, has been accepted as an intern at the fund’s PXP literary magazine. Chrystal also accepted the first high school student in the adult training classes at Samuel French, who has had part of her play published in the company’s magazine.
Monmouth County Vocational School District: CommVault Systems, Oceanport, NJ
CommVault Systems is a data and information management software company which has supported our district in a number of ways. Initially, students participated in volunteer mentorships at CommVault Systems for two half-days each week for one semester.
The relationship was expanded when CommVault offered paid internships over the summer to some of our students. Two years ago, CommVault created a scholarship program for deserving students. A total of nine 2012 and 2013 graduates received $2,500 scholarships, renewable for up to four years. The students are also offered paid summer internships. This year, CommVault is providing a speaker to talk with our freshman students about the work they do in information technology around backup and recovery of data.
Morris County School of Technology: Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, Kenilworth, NJ
The Morris County Vocational School District is honored to nominate John Mckay and Andy Pacifico from the NJ Carpenters Union as the district’s Business Partners of the Year. Over the past several years, many of our students have become union members and pursued careers in the carpentry trade, in large part due to the efforts of Mr. McKay and Mr. Pacifico, who have provided them with a direct pathway to a career in the building industry. Our students have been given opportunities to use their skills and education not only to better themselves, but also to exemplify the importance of vocational education.
Ocean County Vocational-Technical School: Paul Barlo – Barlo & Associates Architects, Brick Township, NJ
Over the past six years, Paul Barlo has opened the doors of his architectural design firm to the eager eyes and minds of OCVTS architectural/engineering design students. Mr. Barlo has enhanced Ocean County and surrounding communities with both new and renovation designs of stylish, energy efficient, residential, commercial and government structures.
He personally hosts tours for students of his firm, his home and many of his other creative shore living designs. Mr. Barlo has also seen the skills that OCVTS programs can foster within our students, and hires OCVTS alumnae and current students to help complete the drafting and design needs of his firm and his clients.
Passaic County Technical Institute: Kevin J. Mayer, Productivity Center Manager, Sandvik Coromant, Fairlawn, NJ
Sandvik Coromant is the world’s leading supplier of tools, tooling solutions and know-how to the metalworking industry. The company has been an active participant in the manufacturing technology program at PCTI for several years.
Company representatives have served on the advisory board for manufacturing technology and are currently serving on the advisory board for our engineering technology program. This partnership has opened the doors for more than 100 PCTI students at Sandvik’s Productivity Center for training and job- shadowing activities. The company has also made multiple donations of tooling for our CNC machines, materials for student projects and technical advice and training with programming. Recently, Kevin Mayer and Peter Mesa donated their time for PCTI’s open house, where they worked with the students of machine technology to showcase the manufacturing industry, our school and the manufacturing program.
Salem County Vocational Technical Schools: Dan Bestwick, Dan’s Auto Service, Pennsville, NJ
Dan’s Auto Service is a strong supporter of the Salem County Vocational Technical Schools. Dan Bestwick, a former SCVTS Alumnus of the Year and the owner of Dan’s Auto Service, has hired automotive technology students for the past eight years. He serves on the program advisory committee for the automotive program and has assisted with determining equipment and supply needs as well as keeping the curriculum current.
Mr. Bestwick served on the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation’s (NATEF) Evaluation Committee and helped secured accreditation for the SCVTS program. He has always been available to help provide his expertise whenever called upon, and has served as a judge for many years during the district’s annual Quality Cup of Excellence competition.
Somerset County Vocational & Technical Schools: Pete Sansom, Sysco Metro NY LLC, Jersey City, NJ
Pete Sansom, a marketing associate from the food services company Sysco, has been selected as Somerset County Vocational & Technical School District’s 2013 Business Partner of the Year.
For more than 25 years, Mr. Sansom has volunteered his time at SCVTS as a presenter, SkillsUSA technical advisor, and mentor to students, and has contributed valuable information through product demonstrations and presentations, which improve the program and maintain its alignment with industry trends.
In addition to his business relationship with SCVTHS, Mr. Sansom also makes annual personal donations to support post-secondary culinary arts scholarships for our students.
Sussex County Technical School: Fonzarelli’s Auto Body and Repair, Augusta, NJ
Sussex County Technical School is honoring Fonzarelli’s Auto Body and Collision Repair for the company’s incredible support of the Sussex County Technical School Engineering Program.
Sussex Tech participates in the annual SkillsUSA International Submarine Race, a competition in which vocational-technical students from across the country design and build human-powered submarines. Sussex’s entries, known as the Umptysquatch series, have won numerous awards. Once the SCTS engineering students have finished designing, fabricating and testing all aspects of a submarine, the crew at Fonzarelli’s takes over and makes the outside hull into a work of art. Over the past five years, this partnership has evolved into an extraordinary education/industrial team.
Fonzarelli’s owner, John Post, has generously allowed his employees to participate in the project, particularly two who have ties to Sussex Tech: Billy Zega, the manager of body shop operations, is a 1985 graduate, and Al Podkowka, a body shop technician, is the father of 2005 graduate Liz Podkowka, who was part of the Umptysquatch-2 team.
Union County Vocational-Technical Schools: Pineda Conservatory, Scotch Plains, NJ
Juan and Valerie Pineda and the Pineda Conservatory have been a partner of the Union County Vocational-Technical Schools Academy for Performing Arts (APA) since 2010.
The Pineda Conservatory provides students with a series of vocal master classes and also produces and directs the APA spring musicals.
But even more significantly, Juan and Valerie serve as mentors to students. They inspire, motivate, educate and instill professionalism, as they generously share their knowledge, experience, passion and love of their craft.
Warren County Vocational-Technical School: Joe Fox, Warren County Fire Academy, Washington, NJ
Joe Fox, a past fire chief with the Washington Borough Fire Department, and currently with the Warren County Fire Academy, has been working with our law and public safety students, teaching them the fundamentals of fire safety. He is also a member of the advisory board for the new Fire Science program, which we expect to launch next year, which will provide graduates with Fire Fighter 1 certification, allowing them to be an asset to their communities.
Statewide: New Jersey Business and Industry Association, Trenton, NJ
Facing employer concerns about the availability of a skilled workforce, NJBIA is working closely with NJCCVTS to raise awareness about the value of career and technical education and to build support for the expansion of career-focused learning opportunities at county vocational-technical schools.
The organizations are working together to launch the NJ Employer Coalition for Technical Education, which will promote quality career and technical education, engage employers with county vocational-technical schools and students, and support the expansion of schools and programs to prepare more career-focused, job-ready New Jerseyans.
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