High-tech companies, national retailers, local businesses, health care facilities, county officials, non-profit organizations and trade unions are among the 2015 Business Partners of the Year honored by New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts.
“Employer involvement 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 are preparing all types of students for a wide range of careers and higher education, thanks to the help of thousands of individuals, companies, trade unions and other employers who understand that a well-trained workforce benefits everyone in the state,” McCorkell said.
Business partners serve on technical advisory boards to ensure that district programs meet industry standards and needs. They also donate equipment, host site visits, serve as guest speakers, role models and mentors, offer internships and scholarships, and hire students and graduates.
“What our business partners have in common is a passion for their work, and a commitment to the continued growth and evolution of our schools as a resource for both students and their own future workforces,” McCorkell said.
Each county vocational-technical school district presents a Business Partner of the Year award annually.
Here is more information on the 2015 Business Partners of the Year:
Atlantic County Institute of Technology honored Peter Avangliano, of Galloway. A member of the school’s Performing Arts Advisory Board, Avangliano has 30 years of experience in all aspects of technical theater, including scenic and lighting design and construction, programming, sound and special effects.
Last year, he worked with building trades and computer-assisted design students to create the sets for a production of Oliver. He also helped design sets for the Performing Arts Academy (PAA).
This year, he is working with the students and staff on the school production of Grease, and is lending one of the three “Greased Lightning” cars he rents out nationally as props. Avangliano also serves as a guest speaker at PAA to discuss the design process and the various career pathways in technical theater.
“Peter volunteers at ACIT because he loves theater and loves seeing students realize their potential,” said Superintendent Dr. Philip Guenther. “His goal is to help build our drama program into one of the premier performing arts education options in the region. We are incredibly lucky to have him.”
Bergen County Technical Schools recognized Sterling Medical Devices, of Rochelle Park. The company has developed more than 500 medical device products since 1998, ranging from diagnostic and therapeutic systems to implantable devices, using embedded systems, PC-based devices, smartphones/tablets, and web/Cloud services.
Dan Sterling, the founder and CEO of the company, is a member of the BCTS Engineering Advisory Board, where he assists the staff in developing a curriculum that gives students the skills they need to enter the field of medical device design, development, testing, and software development. He has provided internships for Bergen Tech students and offered summer employment to former interns.
“Dan Sterling takes a personal interest in our school and the students who work with his company,” said BCTS Superintendent Dr. Howard Lerner. “He generously donated laptops to students who suffered losses due to Hurricane Sandy, and has donated equipment to both our computer science and engineering programs. As a mentor, he has assisted students in applying and gaining acceptance to prestigious schools such as MIT and Cornell.”
Burlington County Institute of Technology honored Paul Morgan, the owner of Morgan’s Automotive Service in Burlington, who has been a member of the BCIT advisory committee for more than 20 years and has served on the school’s automotive advisory committee for more than 15 years.
Morgan has been hiring BCIT high school and adult education students since 1992, some as participants in school-to work programs and some part-time after school. Currently, Morgan’s Automotive Service employs three high school students, working closely with the school-to-work coordinator.
“Paul provides our students with top-notch on-the-job training and he runs a safe and efficient shop,” said BCIT Superintendent Dr. Christopher Manno. “He is highly skilled in his profession, but he also very patient and generous with the students, who get a great experience in a real-world setting.”
Morgan has continued his own professional education at BCIT, earning ETEP and Emissions Certifications and a State Inspector License.
The Camden County Technical School District recognized Frank Hiller, the service manager and master diagnostic specialist at Lexus of Cherry Hill in Mount Laurel.
For the past ten years, Hiller has been an active member of the CCTS automotive technology advisory board, and also serves as a reviewer for NATEF certifications and as an advisor for the district.
“Frank’s doors are always open and he offers field trips and internships to almost 100 students in the automotive programs at CCTS,” said Dr. Siobahn Kelly, CCTS Job Placement and Cooperative Education Coordinator.
“He has hired more than 10 students from our automotive programs, all of whom have been offered full-time employment upon graduation. We can count on him to assist us with anything that our automotive programs need; even if it’s last minute, he will drop everything to help our school and our students,” Dr. Kelly said.
Superintendent Pat Fitzgerald said it is “a pleasure to have an automotive industry leader like Mr. Hiller as a partner. Frank works tirelessly to make the transition for our students from high school to the workplace seamless while delivering amazing results that allow us to build tomorrow’s automotive technicians today.”
Cape May County Technical School District’s 2015 Business Partner of the Year is the Cape May County Beach Plum Association.
Led by president David VanVorst and secretary of outreach programs Joseph Alvarez, the association has been a strong supporter of the district for the past nine years, providing opportunities for FFA students in the agriscience & horticultural technology career and technical education program.
“The association has partnered with the district to create student projects to replenish native beach plum plants,” said Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hudanich. “Students also work with local growers to propagate and develop the beach plum cultivars, which enhances the students’ learning opportunities and brings them into contact with the beach plum growers’ community at meetings and other events that hone their leadership, public speaking and networking skills.”
The CMC Beach Plum Association has also made significant donations to the district to defray the costs of sending FFA students to state and national competitions.
Cumberland County Technical Education Center selected Inspira Health Network, a charitable, non-profit health care organization serving communities in Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, and Camden counties.
The network includes three hospitals, a comprehensive cancer center, several multi-specialty health centers and a total of more than 60 locations providing urgent care, outpatient imaging, and rehabilitation, as well as numerous specialty services centers. The network also provides home care and hospice services and includes more than 30 primary and specialty physician practices in the region.
Inspira Health Network has been involved with Cumberland TEC since 1969, working with students and staff and promoting all aspects of the school’s allied health programs.
“The size and variety of the network’s services provides numerous education opportunities and clinical experiences for students and employment for graduates,” said Superintendent Dr. Dina Rossi Elliott. Inspira medical professionals also serve on Cumberland TEC’s advisory board to ensure that its programs are meeting the current industry standards and needs.
Essex County Vocational Technical Schools recognized Christopher DiMeo, Director of Programs for the New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council (NJBCTC) in Clark.
The NJBCTC coordinates activities and provides resources to 15 affiliated trades unions in the construction industry. The council represents 13 Local Building Trades Councils, more than 100 local unions and over 150,000 rank and file members.
For the past six years, DiMeo has coordinated the NJBCTC’s Youth Transitions to Work (YTTW) Program, which promotes work-based learning and the establishment of linkages among secondary schools, postsecondary schools and registered apprenticeships, bringing the knowledge and expertise of New Jersey’s tradespeople to the classroom.
DiMeo has been working with the ECVTS high schools since 2012 to introduce construction trades employment possibilities to 11th and 12th grade students and assist graduating seniors in their pursuit of apprenticeships.
“Christopher has been a very valuable partner for our schools and our students,” said ECVTS Superintendent Dr. James Pedersen. “He makes presentations to students from the architecture and construction career cluster and coordinates site visits and job shadowing experiences. He also provides students in the YTTW program with training in academic and job-ready skills and preparation for the OSHA certifications that focus on safety procedures and handling of materials.”
Gloucester County Institute of Technology honored Lowe’s Home Improvement Center in Manuta.
“The Lowe’s Corporation is a key partner in the state and national SkillsUSA competitions, and the management and staff at Lowe’s in Manuta have played a vital role in helping GCIT students gain the industry skills they need to prepare for these events,” said GCIT Superintendent Michael Dicken. “Thanks to their help, GCIT earned the SkillsUSA Model of Excellence Award earlier this year.”
Lowe’s staff members serve as key members of the GCIT advisory board. The partnership has provided students with many job-related opportunities and provided the GCIT staff with the tools necessary to keep students current with industry practices.
Students benefit from meaningful internships and valuable guest speaker opportunities. Lowe’s also holds student competitions at the store and allows students to volunteer on the weekends to help young children with wood-working projects.
Hudson County Schools of Technology recognized Robert Sutton, the managing partner of Cosi Restaurants, who is based in Teaneck. Three of the six Cosi restaurants in New Jersey are in Hudson County.
“Robert has been involved in HCST post-secondary students’ lives for several years,” said HCST Superintendent Frank Gargiulo. “He has participated in job fairs, trained our interns, and hired several of our students. His restaurants are always open to provide hands-on training to our learners. He is patient, flexible and compassionate about ensuring students’ success and helping us pave their career pathways in the food industry.”
Sutton is currently involved in helping several HCST adult culinary arts students, who had been referred by the unemployment office, to develop a catering business. “He is ready to take them under his wing and nurture them to success,” Gargiulo said.
Hunterdon County Vocational School District honored Clover Hill Animal Hospital in Flemington. Since 2006, veterinarians Ann Ascher and Christy Artuso and technician Nicole Herbert have been instrumental in the development of Hunterdon County Polytech’s shared-time high school animal science program.
They partnered with the district to create an internship program that gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a full-service veterinary medical facility.
“Ann, Christy and Nicole have also volunteered countless hours on the school’s advisory committee, sharing current trends and practices in the industry with the school’s instructor to ensure students received the most up-to-date curriculum while supporting and encouraging apprenticeship as an option for students. They have earned the gratitude and respect of our staff and our students,” said Superintendent Dr. Kim Metz.
By hiring a student apprentice, Clover Hill became Polytech’s first US Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Veterinary & Laboratory Technician Apprenticeship sponsor, and the district is now seeking USDOL approval to expand the program.
Mercer County Technical Schools recognized the Chez Alice Catering Company of Pennington.
Chez Alice, a well-known wedding and event caterer in central New Jersey and Bucks County, PA, has been partnering with the district’s culinary arts program for more than two years.
Owner Kelly Hamdan and her staff play an active role in the school, mentoring students and hiring and training future chefs from MCTS.
“Our students take great pride in working with such a highly-regarded catering company, and Kelly and her staff take a great interest in seeing our students succeed in their chosen field, even when they ‘lose’ an employee who decides to pursue his or her post-secondary education in culinary arts,” said MCTS Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Schneider.
Middlesex County Vocational & Technical Schools honored Shannon McGrady, the president of Arm-R- Lite, located in Piscataway, a leading manufacturer of industrial overhead doors.
McGrady took over the leadership of her family-owned company in 2014 and has been engaged with MCVTS for several years.
She works closely with the school’s cooperative education program, employing students from the computer applications and computer assisted drafting and design programs, allowing them to experience a variety of career positions in the company’s sales, customer service and design engineering departments.
“Shannon is an exemplary employer, known for her professional knowledge and flexibility,” said MCVTS Superintendent Brian Loughlin. “But she is also an outstanding mentor who has helped students grow professionally and personally. The experience they receive in the innovative, supportive and professional environment at Arm-R-Lite helps them transition from school to work.”
Monmouth County Vocational School District’s 2015 Business Partner of the Year is Wegmans Food Market, in Ocean Township (Monmouth County), a key supporter of the district’s Culinary Education Center (CEC) in Asbury Park.
“Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by Fortune magazine for 18 consecutive years, ranking #7 in 2015,” said MCVSD Superintendent Timothy McCorkell. “The staff in the Ocean Township store teach CEC our students what quality means, in terms of both culinary products and workplace experience.”
Wegmans staff members participate on the CEC advisory committee, serve as judges for in-house competitions, offer student tours of their store, and provide educational demonstrations for CEC students in areas such as cake decorating and cheese production.
The Ocean Township market has hired both secondary and post-secondary students, served as an externship site for post-secondary students and employed MCVSD graduates.
Morris County Vocational School District recognized Dialogic, Inc., of Parsippany, a global networking software and infrastructure solution provider. Dialogic has been working with MCVSD for more than two years. Staff members serve on the district’s advisory committee, provide internships and serve as guest lecturers.
This year, the company’s representatives worked with students from the Academy for Computer and Information Sciences to plan and organize a wildly successful local Hackathon. More than 100 MCST students participated in the competition for young programmers demonstrating coding skills.
“Dialogic sponsored the event, ran coding workshops for our participants, helped judge the team entries, provided prizes for the top three teams and then treated the students to an amazing dinner,” said MCVSD Superintendent Scott Moffitt.
“It was a great learning experience for both the student planners and the participants, and we would never have been able to organize and run it without Dialogic’s help,” he said.
Ocean County Vocational-Technical School honored Hal Morris, the director of the Ocean County Fire and First Aid Training Center in Waretown.
“The Ocean County training has been a vital part of our shared-time law and public safety program for many years, and Hal Morris and his staff were instrumental in helping us get our full-time Law and Public Safety Academy started this fall,” said OCVTS Superintendent William Hoey.
While OCVTS schools had used the Waretown facility in the past for training, guest speakers, DARE events and helicopter landings, the center now includes classrooms created for more than 80 students. The training center provided all of the equipment, including desks and televisions.
“They have been great collaborators with our teachers and administrators. Everyone is very excited about the opportunities that are now available at the full-time academy, but we could not have accomplished it without the help of Hal and his staff,” Hoey said.
Passaic County Technical Institute recognized Morgan Advanced Materials, of Fairfield, an international company that provides technically complex solutions to problems such as energy demand, health care and environmental sustainability.
Morgan has approximately 10,000 employees worldwide, serving clients in more than 100 countries. PCTI has partnered with company since 2011, and Jerry McConvery, the general manager of Morgan’s Technical Ceramics Division, actively participates on PCTI’s manufacturing technology and engineering technology advisory boards.
The company has hired four PCTI graduates in recent years. Three of the students are still working at Morgan, one part-time during the summer while pursuing his engineering degree at Rutgers and two full-time while studying manufacturing at Bergen Community College. The most recent school-to-careers student employed at Morgan as a summer intern continues his work there part-time.
“This is a valuable partnership for our school and an outstanding partnership for PCTI students,” said PCTI Superintendent Diana Lobosco. “They are getting an opportunity to achieve success with a worldwide company in an emerging and technically demanding field.”
Salem County Technical Schools’ 2015 Business Partner of the Year is Precious Time Child Development Center, a school for young children with locations in Pennsville and Penns Grove.
“Director Angelina Crispin is an active member of our school’s advisory committee and has established a strong and growing partnership with the child care and early development program at Career and Technical High School,” said Superintendent John Swain. “She and her staff are great mentors for students interested in pursuing careers in early childhood education.”
Precious Time has hired many graduates of the SCVTS program and recently hired two current students for part-time work after school. Along with their paid positions, the students earn required hours towards their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.
Crispin and her staff also hosted a field trip to give students an understanding of the professional business aspects of operating a child development center.
Somerset County Vocational & Technical Schools honored Tricorp Amusement, Inc., of Somerset, a nationwide leader in the development and operation of family entertainment centers. Tricorp has more than 100 employees, working in more than 20 states from five regional distribution centers.
Over the past four years, executive vice president of operations Rocky LaPenta has hired at least two students each year through the district’s cooperative education program. He trains the students in both workplace skills and video game repair and refurbishment; three of the students were hired full-time by Tricorp after they graduated.
“Rocky and Tricorp are extremely valuable business partners for our district,” said SCVTS Superintendent Dr. Chrys Harttraft. “Our students visit these types of entertainment centers frequently with their families and friends, and it is enlightening for them to see the kinds of career opportunities that are available in this industry.”
Sussex County Technical Schools’ 2015 Business Partner of the Year is Stephan Koch, owner of NAPA Auto Parts – Koch’s Auto Parts, Inc. of Newton.
Stephan Koch has been the main supplier of automotive parts for the Sussex Tech’s automotive and transportation departments for many years, and he has participated in the district’s National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation’s (NATEF) evaluation process.
“Stephan is a huge advocate for our school,” said Brian Ward, Sussex Tech’s vehicle maintenance technology instructor. “He is always willing to go above and beyond for the students and staff; he has even opened the store on Sundays to ensure the mechanics in the transportation department have essential parts. No matter what is asked of him, he always comes through for Sussex Tech and is an excellent business partner.”
Union County Vocational-Technical Schools honored We Connect the Dots, a non-profit organization located in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, which helps students build foundational technology skills they can take forward into any career path.
WCD founder Laurie Carey, a member of the UCVTS advisory board, was the keynote speaker on the first day of school this year, talking to the student body about how careers are evolving as a result of technology innovation and how a new approach to learning can assist them in finding their paths to future success.
“People who are going to be successful in the 21st century have to understand how technology is integrated into everything that we do,” said UCVTS Superintendent Peter Capodice.
During the 2014-2015 School year, WCD supplied remote lessons and equipment to enable the district to integrate technology development into the business curriculum, so students could see the value of integrating technology concepts like mobility in their business plans.
“A number of our students also participated in the free WCD summer programs designed to introduce them to STEAM (science, technology, engineering arts and math) career possibilities and the skills necessary to be successful in those careers,” Capodice said. Next year, WCD will be launching a new ‘Introduction to Cyber Security’ curriculum at the Academy for Information Technology and will also be part of the district’s two day Hackathon in June.
Warren County Vocational-Technical School recognized John Maxman, the owner of JHM Signs in Alpha.
JHM Signs designs and manufactures signs, banners, and vehicle graphics.
“John is a valued and long-standing businesses partner for Warren Tech,” said Superintendent Robert Glowacky.
“He has been hiring our graphics students for several years. Recently, the company expanded its vehicle graphics department, and John now employs two automotive students who are learning about wrapping vehicles with printed vinyl,” Glowacky said.
Maxman, who is also a member of the Blairstown Rotary, also comes to Warren Tech regularly to speak to graphics and automotive students about career opportunities and conducts student tours of his facility.