Business Partners of the Year honored in 2014 by New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts range from major state and national corporations to local business owners, health care facilities, engineers and architects, county and local officials, information technology firms, an agribusiness and a theatrical costume company.
“These businesses reflect the great divergence of New Jersey’s economy, but what the people who run them all have in common is that they are passionate about what they do, and they are passionate about the continued growth and evolution of our schools as a resource for both students and their own future workforces,” said Dr. Howard Lerner, the 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.
“Employer involvement is the key to successful career and technical education programs. Our business partners are committed to ensuring that our programs meet current industry standards and needs. They serve on our technical advisory boards, donate equipment, lead tours of their companies, serve as lecturers, role models and student mentors, offer internships and scholarships and often hire our students and graduates,” said Dr. Lerner.
Each county vocational-technical school district presents a Business Partner of the Year award annually.
The 2014 Business Partner of the Year honorees are:
Atlantic County Institute of Technology – Kelsey and Kim’s, Atlantic City and Pleasantville, NJ
Kelsey and Kimberly Jackson own and operate three local restaurants: Kelsey & Kim’s Soul Food & BBQ in Pleasantville, and Kelsey & Kim’s Southern Café and Kelsey’s, both in Atlantic City. The Jacksons are lifelong Atlantic County residents.
Since becoming involved with ACIT, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson have consistently hired students as interns, and graduates of ACIT’s Culinary Academy as full-time employees. Working at their restaurants is a career path to success, because the Jacksons take an active interest in the students’ personal lives and try to help them make good choices. They serve as role models and mentors; they give students not only a job, but a strong sense of responsibility and self-worth. They emphasize the importance of school; if the students have a special project or need time to study, they work with them to provide time off to complete their school work.
The Jacksons are also involved with the Professional Chefs Association and volunteer their time and their facilities to raise funds for scholarships for local students to attend culinary school.
Bergen County Technical Schools – PepsiCo, Vallhalla, NY
The Bergen County Technical School District’s partnership with PepsiCo provides Bergen Tech/Teterboro campus Culinology® students opportunities to experience a wide variety of food and beverage development through trips to PepsiCo’s northeast headquarters. At this state-of-the-art processing plant, students observe products in development stages and learn about economic challenges that a global company like PepsiCo faces on a daily basis. Students get to sample beverages from all over the world and discover how products are created for a particular market’s demographic.
Danielle Barbaro, the Director of Global Cola, Research and Development, is an active member of the BCTS advisory board and has been instrumental in the development of the Culinology® curriculum. She has attended the campus open house, given presentations to students on product development, and served as a participant in a panel discussion focusing on the challenges women encounter in the corporate workplace during Bergen Tech’s observance of Women’s History month.
Burlington County Institute of Technology – Inductotherm Corp., Rancocas, NJ
Inductotherm Corp., part of the Inductotherm Group, designs and manufactures the most advanced induction melting, heating, holding and pouring systems for virtually all metal and material processing. The manufacturer’s headquarters is located in Rancocas, but the company, which has been in existence for more than 60 years, has facilities around the world.
A huge proponent of giving back to the community and supporting career and technical education, Inductotherm has provided in-kind equipment and supplies to the BCIT educational programs, scholarships to the BCIT Foundation, and hired many BCIT high school and adult education students. BCIT Adult Division instructors have also provided customized training of more than 30 Inductotherm employees. Thousands of BCIT students have benefitted from Inductotherm’s generosity. The company is a great business partner, donor and BCIT education advocate.
Camden County Technical Schools – Dave Scott, Laurel Oak Garden Center and Landscaping, Medford, NJ
Dave Scott of Laurel Oak Garden Center and Landscaping has been a member of the CCTS Advisory Board for five years. He is always ready to share the latest information regarding procedures and equipment used in the landscaping field. In addition, he often consults on student projects and interacts with the students by providing advice and mentoring.
Mr. Scott has also committed to providing opportunities for CCTS students through employment and internships. He is a very positive role model for students, and has donated a significant amount of hardscaping supplies and products to the school so that students can learn how to install them correctly.
Cape May County Technical School District – Cheryl Elias, Supercuts
Cheryl Elias is a franchise owner of 12 Super Cuts Hair Salons in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She is a great role model, and works with both the high school CTE students and the postsecondary adults enrolled in the district programs.
Ms. Elias regularly visits the CTE Salon classroom to perform interactive demonstrations and hands-on workshops for students. She also provides real-world situation applications in color theory, salon budgeting, and resume-building. Finally, Ms. Elias employs many of the district’s graduates from among both high school and post-secondary program completers in her salons.
Cumberland County Technical Education Center – Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Bridgeton, NJ
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department provides assistance to CCTEC’s Law Enforcement/ Homeland Security program and the school as a whole in multiple areas.
Students in the Law Enforcement program have been exposed to the many job opportunities in this field and the skills necessary for success. The Sheriff’s office personnel have served as guest speakers and hands-on skills instructors in many subject areas. They have also developed and assisted the implementation of a Law Enforcement/Homeland Security Program scholarship and an internship program, and annually assist students in preparing for the SkillsUSA competitions.
Sheriff Robert Austino and Chief Michael Santiago are active members of the CCTEC Law Enforcement/ Homeland Security Program Advisory Board, and the Sheriff’s Office was instrumental in the development and implementation of CCTEC’s current School Safety Emergency Plan.
Essex County Vocational Technical Schools – Panasonic System Communications Company of North America, Newark, NJ
Essex County Vocational Technical Schools and the Panasonic Corporation have collaborated to establish a successful and exciting internship program for high school students. Joseph Calcaterra, who is responsible for Panasonic’s intranet employee web site, began working with Essex Tech at the suggestion of a former colleague, web design instructor Gail Riccardi. With the enthusiastic support of Panasonic management, Mr. Calacterra has created a mentoring program and assisted Essex Tech instructors in giving students the opportunity to prepare for, interview for and ultimately secure web design internships within the company.
Last year, after going through the mentorship program, three students interviewed at Panasonic and received internships. This year, five students are being mentored, and three students are working as paid interns during the fall, spring and summer. The interns are working with multiple stakeholders at Panasonic, meeting deadlines and, most of all, using their creative talents. The program also allows Essex Tech instructors to gain deeper understanding of how to best prepare students for college and career opportunities upon graduation. The partnership with Panasonic is an outstanding example of education and industry working together towards the common goal of assuring fully-prepared and capable future employees.
Gloucester County Institute of Technology – Garrison Architects. Bellmawr, NJ
The firm of Garrison Architects has been a business partner of the Gloucester County Vocational Technical School District for many years. Through their generous donations of time and contributions, the staff at Garrison Architects supports many of the fund-raising events and curricular activities within the district.
In addition, the company is a founding member of the Engineering Academy’s advisory committee at GCIT, providing students and instructors with invaluable guidance.
Hudson County Schools of Technology – Force 21, Andrew Campbell, CEO of Eastern Millwork, Jersey City, NJ
Force 21 is a partnership of High Tech High School, Hudson County Community College, Thomas Edison State College, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a coalition of industry partners lead by Andrew Campbell, CEO of Eastern Millwork in Jersey City.
Force 21 provides students and workers with the relevant technical training, academic rigor and work readiness experiences needed to support and attract industry to New Jersey. The approach is based on the German dual education model, a system wherein students focus on practicing a technical skill while also learning the theory of their field in a formal educational setting, leading to a technical degree. Force21 takes its curricular cues from industry partners, ensuring that its programs are relevant and future-looking. Through Mr. Campbell’s leadership, Force 21 maximizes industry input and engagement with students and faculty.
Hunterdon County Polytech – Ingersoll Rand, Annandale, NJ
Ingersoll Rand, founded in 1871, conducts manufacturing and assembly operations in over sixty-five plants worldwide and is composed of a diverse array of brands in commercial, industrial and residential markets.
Due to Ingersoll Rand’s continuous generosity and equipment donations, this year alone students in the Automotive Technology Program were able to learn their trade using new ratchet wrench kits, impact tools and LED task lights. Ingersoll Rand continuously invites students and teachers to local company events and looks to expand the relationship by providing internships and grant opportunities.
Mercer County Technical Schools – KNF Neuberger, Hamilton, NJ
KNF Neuberger, Inc. is a global manufacturer of specialized diaphragm pumps and systems for gases, vapors and liquids for a variety of clients in the healthcare sector, automobile industry and homeland security field. The company was selected as the MCTS Business Partner of the Year for its sincere commitment to actively supporting and mentoring students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
Jeurgen Strauss, the company’s Director of Manufacturing Operations and a member of the MCTS General Advisory Committee, said the partnership is also important to KNF Neuberger and its future growth. “It has provided us with a much needed venue to actively participate in fostering the rekindling of the local apprenticeship trades program. Trades are the backbone of any industrialized society, a necessity for international competitiveness and the cradle of many inventions,” Mr. Strauss said.
Middlesex County Vocational & Technical Schools – Bill Leary Air Conditioning and Heating, Metuchen, NJ
William Henry Leary IV began his career path at the Piscataway campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical High Schools. He graduated in 1988, and soon thereafter became an entrepreneur. His company, Bill Leary Air Conditioning and Heating has been serving central New Jersey for more than 25 years, providing a wide range of residential and commercial heating and air conditioning services, including sales, maintenance, design and engineering. He currently employs more than 35 people and maintains a fleet of 18 service trucks to meet the needs of his expanding number of customers.
Giving back to his community as an MCVTS alumnus is important to Mr. Leary, and he has worked with the district over the years to hire HVAC students, mentor them and help them launch their careers in the industry.
Monmouth County Vocational School District – Rik F. van Hemmen, VP and Senior Partner, Martin, Ottoway, van Hemmen and Dolan, Inc., Red Bank, NJ
Rik F. van Hemmen, Vice President and Senior Partner at the engineering firm, Martin, Ottaway, van Hemmen and Dolan, Inc., has made substantial contributions to the enhancement of the Marine Academy of Science and Technology’s career and technical education program. Mr. van Hemmen has been active in the MAST community for many years, and was instrumental in the ongoing collaboration between the New York Harbor School (a public magnet high school located on Governors Island) and MAST. The collaboration, which began last winter, has grown over the past several months to include a number of inter-visitations and projects between the two marine-themed high schools.
Mr. van Hemmen has served as a mentor and advisor to MAST, helping students engineer a new Blue Sea research vessel, and serving on the advisory council. Among his key contributions were two overnight sailing voyages aboard the 18th Century Schooner Lettie G. Howard, which gave MAST and Harbor School students the opportunity to share their knowledge of science and sailing, and the cultivation of a relationship with the SeaStreak Ferry Service, which resulted in free ferry travel for students for this educational partnership. Mr. van Hemmen has also introduced MAST’s engineering faculty to the membership of the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association for future connections to student mentors.
Morris County Vocational School District – Steven Jones, Millburn, NJ
Steven Jones has worked as a construction official for the Township of Millburn-Short Hills for the past eight years and for Borough of Florham Park for the last 22 years. He is also an adjunct professor at Essex County Community College’s LEED Training and Certification Program.
Mr. Jones’ broad knowledge in the industry along with his educational background has provided MCVSD teachers and the students in the carpentry programs with a wealth of information on building code matters, enhancing the quality of the construction program. Additionally, Mr. Jones has been an active Advisory Council member for several years, assisting MCVSD with information on labor demands and emerging trends, reviewing the curriculum, and volunteering to speak with construction students about career options in that field.
Ocean County Vocational-Technical School – Debbie Bilota and Kathy Stewart, Front Row Theatrical Originals, Toms River, NJ
Debbie Bilota and Kathy Stewart began their involvement with the Ocean County Vocational-Technical School’s Performing Arts Academy as parents of students enrolled the school. After their children graduated, they stayed on to assist in the growth of the school by helping in the creation of superior-quality costumes to showcase PAA productions. The directors, producers and choreographers share their vision with Ms. Bilota and Ms. Stewart, and they make it happen.
As part of student learning experience, they also bring on students as interns in their production company, providing tutelage and guidance, and working with the school instructors to ensure that the students achieve competence in all aspects of this field.
Passaic County Institute of Technology – Regency Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Wayne, NJ
Regency Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has partnered with PCTI as clinical site for the Nurse Aide Certification program since 1998. This integral partnership serves both the high school and the Adult/Continuing Education Division, as well as PCTI’s LPN program, enabling students to complete the mandatory clinical hours required for the various state various state certification and licensure programs. PCTI students also work at Regency Gardens as part of our School-to-Careers program and also as full and part-time CNAs.
In addition, upon certification or licensure, Regency Gardens has employed PCTI graduates as Certified Nursing Assistants, and many graduates have gone on to become licensed nurses. Regency Gardens staff members have also played an integral role on PCTI’s advisory board, offering assistance on preparing our students for the rigors of the healthcare profession.
Salem County Vocational Technical Schools – Buzby Farms, Pilesgrove, NJ
Buzby Farms has made many significant contributions to the betterment of the Academy of Agriculture Sciences at the Salem County Career and Technical High School. Buzby Farms representatives serve as active members on the program advisory committee working with the school staff on curriculum and classroom activities relevant to farming and sustainability practices. The company has also worked on SCVTS’s school garden projects, which not only benefit the agricultural science students but also students enrolled in Culinary and Pastry Arts.
Buzby Farms has hosted a number of field trips, assists FFA students with their career development activities and has hired two graduates from the Class of 2014. During Farm to School Week, Buzby Farms donated produce to the school for an event that featured student tastings with New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher.
Somerset County Vocational & Technical Schools – Boyd Electric, North Plainfield, NJ
Vincent Battista, the owner of Boyd Electric, has been an exceptional partner to Somerset County Vocational and Technical School for many years, continually looking to assist in the hands-on training of students and hiring students with small engine knowledge to install and maintain generators.
Through the Cooperative Education program, Mr. Battista has hired at least two SCVTHS students as interns every year, and over the past four years, has hired nine full-time employees from SCVTHS.
Sussex County Technical Schools – AWISCO, Maspeth, NY
The welding program at SCTS is a very popular CTE program of study. It is four-year course that offers college credit and AWS Certification to eligible students. For more than 10 years, SCTS has had an excellent working relationship with AWISCO, a leading welding and industrial supplier, which has supported the welding program through various complimentary training presentations on 2-Gas Innovations and 2-Victor Technologies, full-day Safety Trainings and a new CNC Plasma Table.
AWISCO has also painted the welding shop and provided new safety curtains for stationary and portable welding booths, a substantial contribution that has revitalized the shop and will benefit future students for years to come. AWISCO has also provided a commendable graduating student with a $500 AWISCO Workforce Development Award. The company is committed to the enhancement of career and technical education through high industry standards, education, safety training and quality supplies.
Union County Vocational Technical Schools – Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office, Bloomfield, NJ
Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office is a pre-eminent supplier of office equipment and office automation solutions. Over the last eight years, UCVTS has have consolidated its printer and copier service through Atlantic, saving a considerable amount of money and greatly reducing the amount of paper being utilized around campus.
Meanwhile, UCVTS technology students work on campus as interns with Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office hardware and software products, providing installation and troubleshooting services. As the district evolves into the document and paper management phase, even even greater involvement of technology interns is anticipated.