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Franklin County Tech Seniors Impress Potential Employers At Annual Career Expo

As Colton Tarbox of Wendell, a senior in Franklin County Technical School’s programming and web design program, spoke to companies at the school’s annual Career Expo, he was pleased to find out that his skills would be in high demand when he graduates next year.

“Pretty much every company I’ve spoken to has an information technology department,” he said. “I prefer to do something in programming and design, but it’s good to know that entry level IT jobs are available.”

Raye M. Young, FCTS business instructor, said the Career Expo is not a job fair, but the 128 seniors who participate in the event do so as an assignment for her Career Enhancement class. In the class, Young teaches her students job interviewing skills, such as how to dress, maintain eye contact with an interviewer, give a proper handshake, exercise punctuality, research the company where they are seeking a job, maintain good posture, be polite, and other skills.

“With Career Enhancement, I was able create and streamline my resume, and I’m confident that it displays my skill set,” Tarbox said. “The course teaches you how to act professionally and to make sure I have what’s important for a company to hire me.”

The Career Expo is an opportunity for students to put what they’ve learned in the classroom into practice. The students prepared written questions, were well-dressed, and demonstrated outstanding interpersonal skills.

“The students are asking great questions,” Young said. “They’re using skill sets they need in the community, and they’re getting good information on career paths.”

This is the seventh year that FCTS has held the Career Expo, and 28 companies participated. Young added that the number one attribute employers she talked to are looking for in a potential hire is a positive attitude.

“We’re looking for eager people, somebody who wants to grow with the company,” said Courtney Goodman, Yankee Candle Co. associate recruiter. “We’re looking for people who are happy to go to work. Working for Yankee Candle is like family and we’re looking to add people to that family. I’m excited and can’t wait for some of these students to show up at one of our job fairs.”

Franklin County Tech Seniors Impress Potential Employers At Annual Career Expo

Kristie Joy, Freedom Credit Union Greenfield branch officer, said the bank has hired a number of FCTS graduates for part-time positions who have gone onto to have fulltime jobs.

“The quality of the candidates here is amazing,” she said. “The kids know what to ask. They know how to act. They really get ready for the real world. This is their first unofficial interview.”

Justin Thompson of Orange, and James Miller of Greenfield, both 17 and in the FCTS machine technology program, were impressed with the opportunities offered by Siemens Industry Inc.

“Siemens has a very large workforce and you can work anywhere in the country, and they’ll pay for some of your education,” Thompson said.

Miller added that Siemens offers good jobs for students right out of high school.

Franklin County Tech Seniors Impress Potential Employers At Annual Career Expo

“There’s a lot of on the job training,” he said. “That stood out for me. I’d like to go straight into the workforce.”

Hailey Perkins-McGraw of Ashfield and her friend Lydia Dodge of Buckland were looking at several companies as well as colleges. Both 17 and in the FCTS cosmetology program, they appreciated that there was such a variety of opportunities to explore.

“I plan to go to Greenfield Community College after graduation,” Dodge said. “I’m not sure what I want to do (for a career) yet, so it’s great to see the multitude of employers here today.”

Perkins-McGraw, who is also going to go to college next fall, said she was impressed with some of the benefits offered by Freedom Credit Union.

“I’m looking at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Westfield State University as possible colleges to go to,” she said. “Freedom Credit Union will pay for college if you take courses related to that field.”

Businesses wanting more information or would like to participate in the 2016 Franklin County Technical School Career Expo can contact Raye Young at 413-863-9561, ext. 239 or ryoung@fcts.org.

Below is a list of 2015 participating employers:

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center
  • Buckley Healthcare
  • C.L. Frank & Company
  • Community Action of Franklin, Hampshire & Quabbin Region
  • C&S Wholesale Grocers
  • Deerfield Packaging
  • Dillon Chevrolet
  • Dorothy P. Cary Volunteer Services
  • Farren Care Center
  • Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board
  • Freedom Credit Union
  • Great Clips
  • Greenfield Community College
  • Greenfield Savings Bank
  • Hannaford Supermarket
  • Harmon Temporary Services
  • Judd Wire
  • Laborers Apprentice Program
  • Lightlife Foods
  • Masiello Employment Services
  • Montague Police Department
  • Reliable Temps, Inc.
  • Siemens Industry, Inc.
  • The Richards Group
  • The Stockbridge School at UMASS
  • Turners Falls Fire Department
  • Valley Steel Stamp, Inc.
  • Yankee Candle Company
  • Laborers Apprentice Program
  • Lightlife Foods
  • Masiello Employment Services
  • Montague Police Department
  • Reliable Temps, Inc.
  • Siemens Industry, Inc.
  • The Richards Group
  • The Stockbridge School at UMASS
  • Turners Falls Fire Department
  • Valley Steel Stamp, Inc.
  • Yankee Candle Company
Women in Engineering and Computing Conference at UMass Inspires Franklin County Tech Students

Cat Landers has a passion for chemical engineering, so her visit to the Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day at the University of Massachusetts Amherst opened her eyes to possibilities for her beyond high school.

“The conference gave me an insight into internships, career paths, scholarships, and opportunities for the future,” said the Franklin County Technical School senior. “Chemical engineering matches my other passion for marine biology. I only wish they would have this conference more than once a year.”

Landers, 17, of Millers Falls, was one of eight female FCTS students to attend the annual Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day Conference. More than 200 young women from 25 high schools in Massachusetts and the region explored the fields of engineering and computing through hands-on activities.

The goal of the conference was to excite, inspire, and encourage young women to pursue engineering or computer science as an academic track and career path.

Students participated in activities such as electronic storytelling with Chibitronics, which was led by UMass College of Engineering undergraduate students; engineering drug delivery, led by UMass College of Engineering undergraduate students; and the lotus effect and capillary origami, which was led by Professor Jonathan Rothstein of the Mechanical Engineering department.

Women in Engineering and Computing Conference at UMass Inspires Franklin County Tech Students

Conference participants also saw demonstrations of state-of-the-art technology and talked with industry representatives from Raytheon, BAE Systems, Pegasystems, Cimpress, Tighe & Bond, Woodard & Curran, and the US Air Force.

Sara Powell, 17, of Hawley said she learned a lot of valuable information from mingling with the various representatives.

“A lot of the companies I talked to had chemical and civil engineers working for them,” she said. “They all said that there are aspects of being a chemical or civil engineer that they can still learn. I want to be a mechanical engineer, so it was important to learn that even if you’re not a chemical engineer, you can learn and grow into that.”

FCTS lead science and engineering teacher Jonas LaPointe and programming and web teacher Cynthia Bussey accompanied the students on the trip. Bussey led a group of female students to the event last year.

Women in Engineering and Computing Conference at UMass Inspires Franklin County Tech Students

LaPointe and Bussey both said there is a dearth of females entering engineering and computing classes and into related fields after graduation from college or technical school. Much of this shortage is due to stereotypes of women not being interested in the sciences and math, or being discouraged from entering those professions.

“By going to this conference I wanted to expose the girls to different types of teachers and other girls from different schools who are interested in technology,” Bussey said.

In the near future, jobs in computing and engineering will be in even higher demand than they are now as professionals retire and companies ramp up production and research and development.

“It’s important to offer this conference to younger girls because if engineering and computing are something they’re interested in, then it’s good that they become exposed to these fields early,” LaPointe said. “We were very excited to be going to the conference. Seeing the volume of other young women interested in engineering from schools in our area had a big impact on our girls, which was part of the goal.”

Women in Engineering and Computing Conference at UMass Inspires Franklin County Tech Students

UMass alumna Carol Craig, CEO of Craig Technologies, was the keynote speaker and her story as a business owner and military veteran impressed the FCTS students.

“The keynote speaker did an incredible job,” Landers said. “She talked about how engineering helped her in life. She was great at connecting with the audience.”

Added Powell, “the keynote speaker put into perspective what it’s like to own your own business.”

Cassie Harris, 16, of Erving, was encouraged by the many possibilities there are for a career in engineering.

“From where we are now you can go into any engineering field you can think of,” she said. “I didn’t know I could go that far until I heard the keynote speaker. I want to be a mechanical engineer and I think I’d like to go to UMass.”

FCTS Advanced Placement Teachers Train with Noted Educational Organization

Franklin County Technical School this school year rolled out advanced placement courses and teachers of those classes are attending training conferences to hone their skills.

Introduced this school year, juniors and seniors can now enroll in AP English language and composition, AP statistics in the mathematics department, and AP programming and Web design in computer science, a vocational shop. Teachers of those courses recently underwent two-day training program in Marlborough conducted by Mass Insight Education, with more planned for the future.

Mass Insight Education, a nonprofit that has worked with 130 schools in Massachusetts, was hired through a state grant to assist FCTS in introducing advanced placement classes by training teachers, developing and implementing courses.

“We worked with people who have worked on this for many years,” said Cyndi Bussey, FCTS AP programming and Web design teacher, said of the training. “They’re our mentors. The training is incredibly valuable. To be able to network with other teachers, and have a master teacher give us insight, it will help us improve our content and improve the students’ chances of learning the material and pass the course.”

In addition to training the teachers, Mass Insight will host two Saturday sessions for AP students where they will take a mock test.

“The mock test is to help prepare the students for the real test,” Bussey said. “They take a previous year's test, and the instructors have a grading session, where we learn how to grade them, how they will be graded. This will give both teachers and students additional information on what is important to know for the test.”

English teacher Jeremy Mailloux, who also attended the training sessions, said he came back to FCTS with information that will be a benefit to all of his students, regardless of the course they are taking.

“It’s rare to find professional development where you get to share best practices with other teachers,” he said. “I found relevant and ready strategies that I can use in both my advanced placement classes and non-advanced placement classes to raise the level of all of my students.”

New SkillsUSA Advisors Will Reach Out to Recruit More Students

Franklin County Technical School’s chapter of SkillsUSA has two new advisors this year who are hoping to recruit new students into the organization..

Cosmetology instructor Electra Manley and teacher’s aide Justin Lawrence will take over as advisors for business teacher Raye Young and electrical program instructor Bill Gallant. Young and Gallant forged a record of success in guiding FCTS SkillsUSA members to win a number of regional, state and national competitions.

SkillsUSA Massachusetts is the largest student organization in the state, with a membership of 31, 627 students. SkillsUSA, is a national organization in partnership with business and industry that provides opportunities for members to develop individually and improve teamwork, leadership and professional skills through education, training, service, and competition.

Manley said she and Lawrence are excited to be advising such an active and dedicated student organization. Lawrence said the two are looking to enlist students who have shown great potential in their vocational shops but who might not otherwise choose SkillsUSA as an option, and just need encouragement from their advisors and teachers.

“We’re looking to incorporate all of the students to participate, not just the obvious choices,” he said.

Manley said she and Lawrence are learning something new all the time about what SkillsUSA has to offer its members.

“For example, the students will be volunteering at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Leeds on November 11,” she said. “We hope to use SkillsUSA to make a difference in the community. One of our members, Lindsey Mailloux will also sing the national anthem at the VA Hospital.”

Also coming up on November 22-24 is the State Leadership Conference in Marlborough. SkillsUSA students from around Massachusetts will learn leadership skills and participate in other workshops and activities at the event.

“Our students will be communicating with their peers,” Manley said. “They’ll be meeting kids from other schools and they’ll learn from each other.”

Manley said she became interested in being a SkillsUSA advisor after attending a number of the organization’s conferences as a chaperone. In particular, she said she was deeply moved when she heard a speech by student Taylor Mackey, state and national officer for SkillsUSA, at the April statewide conference in Marlborough.

“Her speech made me want to reach those kids,” Manley said. “I related to her.”

Lawrence, who graduated from FCTS in 2008, was a member of SkillsUSA as a student. He said the organization awakened in him a desire to give back to the community.

“At its core, SkillsUSA is a community service organization,” he said. “It shows kids that they’re not just part of the community, but need to be active in the community.”

Health Tech Students Get Creative to Identify Organs and Bones

As part of their class in Emergency Medical Response, Franklin County Technical School health technology students discovered a creative way to study anatomy.

In early October, the students in Sandra Mizula’s class drew different parts of the anatomy of the human torso on white tee shirts. The colorful tee shirts helped the students learn about the body’s vital organs and bone structure in the chest and abdomen.

The idea for the project was Mizula’s, a Greenfield Community College healthcare professor who comes to FCTS once a week to teach the course. The EMR course is a collaboration between FCTS and GCC, in which the high school students can earn a college certificate upon completion. The 60-hour course is the same one that is taught by GCC to firefighters.

The students enjoyed the project and gathered important information at the same time.

Ivy Cross, 18, a senior from Turners Falls, said the activity helped to reinforce what she has already learned about the human body.

“This tee shirt project was a lot more fun,” she said.

Teagan Valeski, 17, of Buckland, said she “learned about the placement of the upper and lower quadrants and what organs are there.”

Her classmate Kamryn Justice, 17, of Orange, said she was able to accurately get a sense of the proportion of organs to one another.

“I learned about the size of things,” she said. “When you see them in a picture they look a lot smaller.”

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