One of the world’s largest asset management companies, a renowned hospital, a utility company, a farm, local business-owners and two graduates who believe in giving back to the schools that launched their careers are among the 2018 Business Partners of the Year honored by New Jersey’s county vocational-technical schools.
“All successful career and technical education programs have one thing in common: Partnerships with employers large and small and the active involvement of business and industry professionals,” said Scott Moffitt, the president of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational Technical Schools (NJCCVTS) and the superintendent of the Morris County Vocational School District.
“Businesses need to develop a technically-trained workforce for the future. Students need to see real pathways for success in their chosen fields,” Moffitt said. “Addressing both needs together in a committed process requires significant effort, and the business partners we honor this year demonstrate that.”
Thousands of companies and individuals volunteer their time as county vocational-technical school business partners in districts throughout the state. They serve on program advisory committees, help keep curricula up to date, serve as mentors and guest lecturers, sponsor scholarships, donate equipment and supplies, offer internships and real-world learning experiences, and often hire students upon graduation.
Each county vocational-technical school district honors a Business Partner of the Year award annually.
The award recognizes the council’s efforts in support of the Securing Our Children’s Future bond referendum, which was approved by New Jersey voters in the November 6 general election and will provide funding to expand career and technical education opportunities at county vocational-technical schools and county colleges.
The 2018 district Business Partner of the Year honorees are listed below.
Atlantic County Institute of Technology recognized Dr. Edwin Lopez-Bernard, a pediatrician with offices in Galloway, who is also an ACIT shared-time alumnus and a graduate of Atlantic City High School.
He began his post-secondary education with a scholarship to what is now Atlantic Cape Community College and continued his studies at Stockton University before graduating from Ross University School of Medicine. While pursuing his medical education, he worked as a phlebotomy technician and a physician’s assistant in both private practice and in the Air National Guard for the 177th Fighter Interceptor Group.
“Dr. Lopez-Bernard is a highly-regarded member of the medical community in Atlantic County, where his roots are deep and compassion and consideration for strengthening the community are paramount to his work, both in the medical professional and through service,” said ACIT superintendent Dr. Philip Guenther.
He has served on ACIT’s Health Sciences advisory board for the last five years and has made significant contributions to the district’s health sciences programs of study and the structured learning experiences provided to students through on-site internships and mentoring.
Bergen County Technical Schools’ 2018 Business Partner of the Year is The Hospital for Special Surgery Outpatient Center in Paramus.
The HSS staff has partnered with BCTS over the past year in the development of curriculum for the district’s new Health Professions program – designed for students interested in health technology careers – which welcomed its freshman class in September at Applied Technology High School on the campus of Bergen Community College.
In addition to providing valuable on-going curriculum expertise, HHS has committed to offering internships for juniors and seniors and project-based learning experiences for freshmen and sophomores.
“These innovative grade 9 and 10 programs will engage students in real-world experiences right from the start of their high school careers,” said BCTS superintendent Dr. Howard Lerner.
The projects involve site visits to HHS, including a tour of the facility introducing students to the various medical specialties at HHS which students can choose as career paths; a hands-on challenge project that enables students to apply classroom studies to real-world situations; and a presentation of their project solutions to HHS staff, who will assess their presentation skills and provide constructive criticism on their project conclusions.
Burlington County Institute of Technology’s 2018 Business Partner of the Year is Quality Concepts, Inc., of Moorestown, which collaborated with BCIT to strategically market and brand the district as the premier educational service provider for career and technical education in Burlington County.
As a result of the increased presence at community events and the design of quality promotional items, BCIT has increased its high school enrollment by more than 80 students in one year.
“BCIT has already received over 500 applications for next year, and we anticipate that we will experience another banner year of increased enrollment,” said BCIT superintendent Dr. Christopher Nagy.
“Tom Wagner, CEO of Quality Concepts Inc. and member of the Board of Directors of the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce, has been exceptional in providing guidance towards the latest trends in the marketing industry to maximize our outreach to the community,” Nagy said. “BCIT’s name recognition and logo can now be found in the homes of county residents and prospective students. We are no longer the best-kept secret in Burlington County.”
Camden County Technical Schools has honored Sean L. Reed, a senior global engineer at the Campbell Soup Company in Camden.
Mr. Reed has served as the primary contact and liaison for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics team at the Gloucester Township Campus of Camden County Technical Schools (CCTS) for the past three years, working with CCTS students and offering suggestions in the design and construction of the school’s annual robot.
“He has hosted CCTS students at Campbell headquarters to expose them to different fields within the engineering profession,” said CCTS superintendent Patricia Fitzgerald.
“The Campbell team also reviews our pre-Engineering curriculum, and makes suggestions to keep it current. Mr. Reed has worked closely with our students to help prepare them for college and work applications by providing mock interviews and letters of recommendation.”
The Campbell Soup Company Foundation has sponsored the CCTS FIRST Robotics Team since 1998, and over the past 20 years, has donated more than $200,000 towards this initiative. “The Foundation also invites CCTS staff to professional development workshops at Campbell at no charge so that we may learn about and duplicate their best practices in our school district,” Fitzgerald said.
Cape May County Technical School District’s 2018 Business Partner of the Year is Atlantic City Electric, of Mays Landing
In a continuing commitment to workforce development and as part of its merger with Exelon, Atlantic City Electric has funded a multi-year initiative to expand training programs and help create the pipeline of employees needed to fill future energy jobs across New Jersey.
“The group partnership with Cape Tech will open up new, strongly-supported energy industry pathways for students in our district’s HVAC-R/SE, pre-Engineering and Carpentry/Property Management programs,” said Cape Tech superintendent Dr. Nancy Hudanich.
“It’s a great opportunity for our young people to get a head start on a well-paying careers in an evolving industry,” Hudanich said.
Cumberland County Technical Education Center’s 2018 honoree is Horizon AVL Systems Integration, of Blackwood, which designed and installed CCTEC’s state-of-the-art live broadcast studio, and has provided hands-on training and assistance for all of the new equipment.
Horizon employees also visit classrooms to serve as guest speakers, serve on the district’s professional advisory committee, and volunteered their time to serve as judges during a recent SkillsUSA competition held at CCTEC.
“The program would not be what it is without the assistance of Horizon AVL,” said studio production and broadcasting instructor Matthew Neder. “They are always willing to make time for our school and they are committed to making the studio equipment last long-term.”
Essex County Schools of Technology’s Business Partner of the Year is the Donald M. Payne, Sr. Global Foundation in Newark
The foundation supports students in the district’s Law and Public Safety program by providing free college credits from Seton Hall University and myriad guest speaking engagements.
“Our Payne Scholars honor the legacy of Congressman Payne – a Newark native, an educator and a passionate human rights advocate for our local and global communities – who fought tirelessly to end social inequities and to empower people around the world,” said ECST superintendent Dr. James Pedersen.
“With the support of the Payne Foundation, our students learn the skills necessary to become positive leaders in our 21st century global community,” he said.
Many of the Payne Scholars participate in the Model UN and Mock Trials Clubs, and are active members of their school community.
“The Payne Foundation has stressed the importance of having young folks become civically involved in their local and global communities by letting their voices for change be heard.” Pedersen said. “We are indebted to the Payne Foundation for their generous support of our students.”
Gloucester County Institute of Technology has honored Chef John Pilarz, the owner of Anthony’s Creative Italian Cuisine in Haddon Heights, who has been an active business partner with the GCIT Culinary Arts department for more than eight years.
“Chef Pilarz has provided our students with myriad school-to-career opportunities, including internships, guest speaking opportunities, classroom lessons, and paid work experiences,” said GCIT superintendent Michael Dicken.
“He has also served as a judge for various school-wide culinary competitions and has provided insight to our students in preparing them for their local, state, and national career and technical student organization,” Dicken said.
Hudson County Schools of Technology’s 2018 Business Partner of the Year is Andrew Campbell, the president of Eastern Millwork, Inc. (EMI) of Jersey City.
“Andrew Campbell has made a significant impact on the teaching and learning that occurs at High Tech High School,” said HCST acting superintendent Amy Lin-Rodriguez. “His commitment to the Design and Fabrication Academy (D|Fab) has been consistent and fruitful. Our students are now working with instructors whose existing career and technical knowledge is supported by an industry leader who believes in the mission of this program.”
Thanks to his sponsorship, five instructors earned Siemen’s Mechatronics Instructor Certification (four of them receiving their training in Germany). These teacher certifications allow D|Fab students to sit for the Siemen’s Level 1 Mechatronic Systems Assistant Certification; this fall, six former students entered college with Siemen’s Certificates in hand.
A major supporter of HCST since 2013, Mr. Campbell has also opened the doors of EMI to students through annual tours which spark student interest in his industry and show them that there is a vital link between the career and technical courses they take—from computer programming and robotics to architecture and wood technology – and their career aspirations. Several students have participated in summer internships at EMI.
Mr. Campbell also serves on the district advisory board, has donated several industry-grade woodworking machines to the district’s Wood Technology program, financed a field visit so educators and administrators could see how a North Carolina high school was working with a local community college and manufacturing-related companies to integrate their needs, and assisted in the design of the program’s classroom at the new high school.
Hunterdon County Vocational School District has honored Anne Thornton, the owner of MSI Plumbing & Remodeling in Lebanon, which provides plumbing and renovation services to residential properties and business throughout central New Jersey.
She was instrumental in the development of the carpentry program that the district offers at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women through a grant from the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
For the last two years, Ms. Thornton has volunteered her time as a guest speaker at the program, where she encourages participants to obtain skills that will enhance their workforce opportunities, and also donates materials and supplies.
Ms. Thornton also encourages her own employees to enroll in the HCVSD apprenticeship programs so they can enhance their skills and gain national portable credentials, and she speaks at district apprenticeship information sessions, sharing information on current plumbing and construction trends and offering insights into what employers look for in potential employees.
Since 2015, MSI Plumbing & Remodeling has provided scholarships for HCVSD administrators, staff and students to attend the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce Women’s Leadership Summit, giving them the opportunity to meet and learn from prominent business leaders from throughout the county.
Ms. Thornton was named one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs in New Jersey and is the author of several books, including Anne Thornton’s Insider Guide to Home Improvement.
Mercer County Technical Schools has honored the New Jersey School Boards Association, located in Trenton, recognizing the work of John Henry, NJSBA’s STEAM and Sustainable Schools Specialist.
“Mr. Henry provided the MCTS faculty with professional development in the area of problem- and project-based learning (PBL) that has led to the creation of several exciting new student participation programs, including the MRE SKILLS USA Challenge Competition and the I Survived High School Challenge,” said MCTS superintendent Dr. Kimberly Schneider. “He is also providing on-going help in our sustainability initiatives.”
The MRE (Meals-Ready-to-Eat) Challenge, held at MCTS on March 2, allowed twelve teams of high school culinary students from across New Jersey put their kitchen skills to the test in a cooking competition using military field rations as the main ingredients.
The I Survived High School Challenge, held on November 7, paired teams of MCTS Culinary Arts and STEM Academy students in a wilderness survival test, conducted with the assistance of the US Army, and required students to demonstrate survival skills such as creating fire, building shelter, foraging and orienteering in the woods on the grounds of the Arthur R. Sypek Center in Pennington, NJ.
Mr. Henry also provided the technical assistance that helped MCTS obtain a Sustainable Jersey grant to incorporate green technology into the district’s curriculum, enabling MCTS to purchase a solar-powered golf cart for the Automotive programs, solar and wind technology kits for Building Maintenance Trades students, and the solar tubing for hydroponics needed for Culinary and Horticulture students to conduct experiments.
He is also providing ongoing consultation for the development of the Sustainable Building Trades Academy being created at MCTS.
Middlesex County Vocational & Technical Schools has honored Greg Hancox and Carolyn DeWolf of S.T.A.R. LLC, in Lyndhurst, who were instrumental in the development of the district’s Arts Technology (Technical Theater) program.
S.T.A.R. LLC has coordinated with NJ and NY Stage Hands Union contractors to deliver career guidance and specialty presentations and workshops on many aspects of the technical theater industry, including live audio setup and production, truss and rigging seminars, spotlights, power and cable distribution, and theater load-ins and load-outs.
“Our goal was to make this a world-class technical theater program, and these valuable workshops and Greg and Carolyn’s technical expertise have provided our students with a wealth of knowledge and hands-on skills that has is second to none,” said MCVTS superintendent Dianne Veilleux.
“Their ability to coordinate on-site workshops at locations such as the Production Resource Group and the Paper Mill Playhouse, as well as bringing subject matter experts to our East Brunswick campus, has given our Arts Technology students unique perspectives regarding the knowledge and performance expectations of Stage Hands Union employees, and the experience of working side-by-side with active union members on current professional performances and events,” Veilleux said.
Monmouth County Vocational School District has recognized Festo Didactic, Inc., of Eatontown, which hosts the district’s new Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics program for shared-time students.
“Festo Didactic is an international corporation and a leading equipment and solutions provider for technical education. The company designs and implements learning laboratories, educational equipment and programs that train people to perform in highly dynamic and complex industrial environments,” said MCVSD superintendent Timothy McCorkell.
“This new program is the result of an incredible effort by a team of Festo employees who believed it was essential to close the skills gap in the manufacturing industry by preparing students with the knowledge, entry-level skills, and industry-recognized certifications to launch successful careers,” he said.
The Festo team advocated for the program with the corporation, served on the advisory committee that created it and provided guidance on all the management details, from the classroom set-ups to the administrative liaison.
They also volunteered their time to support the instructor, guiding her through equipment certifications that will be incorporated into the program, and connected with several local manufacturers that will be providing job shadowing opportunities and structured learning experiences for level 2 students in the program.
Morris County Vocational School District’s 2018 Business Partner of the Year is Prudential, headquartered in Newark, one of the largest life insurance companies in the United States and one of the world’s largest asset managers.
“Prudential has been actively supporting our Academy for Computer and Information Sciences (ACIS) for the past three years,” said MCVSD superintendent Scott Moffitt.
“Company representatives serve on our advisory council, send guest speakers and industry fellows to work with our students in class, attend our Makers Day events, host field trips to their facility and sponsor our student-run ‘hackathon’, providing financial support, judges and keynote speakers,” Moffitt said.
Every year, Prudential executives give the ACIS junior class a project that requires them to self-organize into management teams to take on a financial analytics programming challenge. Their final project presentation is then evaluated and critiqued.
“It’s a real-world experience that is invaluable to the students, one that would not be available to them without Prudential’s support,” Moffitt said.
Ocean County Vocational Technical School has honored Viking Yachts, of New Gretna, a world leader in the production of semi-custom luxury performance sport-fishing and cruising yachts.
“Viking Yachts has been an avid supporter of the district for over a decade,” said OCVTS superintendent William Hoey.
“While their educational support through tours, educational experiences, and internships provides direct support to our students and teachers, their financial support through donations of funds, supplies and materials allows us to provide our students greater access to resources for career and college readiness activities,” he said.
Earlier this year, Viking donated a large quantity of walnut and teak to expand the real-world work experience for the students in the custom woodworking and design program at the district’s Jackson Center.
The wood ordered for each of Viking’s custom yachts is matched and numbered to ensure the highest-quality finished product, and the leftover materials cannot be used on another build. OCVTS students have used the walnut and teak for projects ranging from coffee tables, cabinets, and desks, to the construction of the elaborate set designs for the OCVTS Performing Arts Academy’s musical productions.
“Thanks to Viking’s support of our schools, we hope to return the favor by providing the company with a pipeline of future potential employees,” Hoey said.
Passaic County Technical Institute’s 2018 Business Partner of the Year is The Market Basket, a well-known gourmet market and catering company in Franklin Lakes.
The Market Basket, Inc. has provided PCTI students with cooperative education and job shadowing work-based learning opportunities for students, aligning the positions based on the students’ programs of study.
“This valuable partnership began several years ago when executives at the Market Basket reached out to PCTI to find potential future employees among the talented students being trained in our School of Culinary Arts,” said PCTI superintendent Diana Lobosco.
“It has expanded as the company incorporated many of our business and finance students into the program to work as intern administrative assistants in the catering and customer service offices, giving them real-world insights into what goes into operating a highly-successful retail business,” Lobosco said.
Market Basket staff members also serve on the advisory committee for the School of Culinary Arts and offer a scholarship program for graduates.
Salem County Vocational-Technical School District recognized Diamond Materials, of Newport, DE, a full-service site contractor which provides construction services, asphalt products, and the demolition of buildings and bridges. The company’s owner, Richard Pierson Jr., is a graduate of SCTS.
“Richard has created a very successful company and has been an active business partner for a number of years,” said SCTS superintendent John R. Swain. “He is committed to giving back to his community and providing career opportunities for other SCTS graduates.”
The district serves as a site for OSHA and MSHA training for Diamond Materials employees. Diamond Materials participates in SCTS annual Career Fair and conducts on-site job interviews for seniors. In the last two years, eight students have been offered full time jobs upon graduation.
Somerset County Vocational & Technical Schools has honored Richard and Debbie Norz, the owners of Norz Hill Farm in Hillsborough, for their many contributions to the district’s agricultural science and culinary arts programs over the past five years.
“Along with providing curriculum guidance, Richard and Debbie Norz have made countless donations of the way of equipment and supplies to the Agricultural Science program’s irrigation and hydroponic projects,” said SCVTS superintendent Dr. Chrys Harttraft. “These projects allowed us to create an extensive garden to supply produce for the district’s Culinary Arts program.”
The Norzes also assist in district fundraising events and allowed the Agricultural Science program to borrow egg-laying chickens to provide students with additional learning opportunities in animal science.
“The poultry project, along with all of the other resources that Norz Hill Farm has provided, have had many positive impacts on student experiences,” said Agricultural Science instructor Erik Fargo.
Sussex County Technical School’s 2018 Business Partner of the Year is Joseph Butto, the Hardyston Township Construction Official.
“Joe and his team have partnered with the carpentry shop for the past ten years. They are an invaluable resource to our students as they keep us current with today’s code, technological advancements, and industry standards,” said Howard Drake, SCTS’s Carpentry instructor.
The Hardyston Township Building Department routinely visits the SCVTS carpentry program to teach students about matters such as plan review, the construction permitting process, and what defines highly skilled and sub-standard work in the field.
“Thanks to their guidance, the program curriculum is continually evolving and improving, helping SCVTS students to become some of the best-prepared high school graduates in the field,” said SCTS superintendent Gus Modla.
Building department staff members have also contributed to students’ success by aiding the catapult design team, volunteering their time as proctors for annual testing, providing professional feedback on prospective employers for graduates, served as advisory board members and offered scholarship opportunities to students.
Union County Vocational-Technical Schools has honored Mark Sproul, an engineer at Picatinny Arsenal, recognizing his support of UC Magnet High School over the past three years.
Mr. Sproul has provided valuable, industry-specific feedback that assisted the school in the revision of its core vocational curricula sequence, particularly in the the use of two-dimensional Computer-Aided Design (CAD), a key tool in the engineering and design industry.
“Thanks to Mr. Sproul’s input, Magnet High School now provides students with the opportunity to learn and utilize both two-dimensional CAD and parametric modeling, giving graduates a head start on their peers as they continue their engineering studies in college,” said UCVTS acting superintendent Gwendolyn Ryan.