Westfield partnership shares ideas on prepping youth for workforce

  • Stefan Czaporowski, right, superintendent of Westfield Public Schools, and Kate Phelon, executive director of the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce, deliver a presentation on project-based learning led by manufacturers and other employers, at a monthly meeting of the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board at the John W. Olver Transit Center in Greenfield on Tuesday morning. Staff Photo/Domenic Poli

Staff Writer
Published: 3/5/2020 6:18:45 PM
Modified: 3/5/2020 6:18:35 PM

GREENFIELD — Two Westfield representatives attended Tuesday’s meeting of the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board to share information on their city’s efforts to generate project-based student learning led by manufacturers and other employers — a concept that MassHire hopes to see implemented locally.

Stefan Czaporowski, superintendent of Westfield Public Schools, and Kate Phelon, executive director of the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce, delivered a presentation at the John W. Olver Transit Center in Greenfield to tout the merits of the Westfield Education to Business Alliance (WE2BA), a collaborative established to prepare young people for the workforce. The two explained the partnership has a number of initiatives, including a mentoring program now up to 33 volunteers and Adopt-A-Classroom, a program in which businesses provide students with career-relevant advice and tutelage.

Phelon, formerly a certified résumé writer of 15 years, explained she held a workshop on how to effectively summarize the students’ education, qualifications and previous experience to make themselves more appealing to employers. Czaporowski added that WE2BA even facilitated a partnership between Westfield Intermediate School and Peerless Precision Inc. — a female-owned business in the male-dominated field of aerospace manufacturing — and once set up interviews with now-Mayor Donald Humason Jr., the headlines of which were published in The Westfield News.

“I’ve never seen the kids so engaged,” Czaporowski said of the Adopt-A-Classroom program. “They’re eating it up.”

Czaporowski said WE2BA is “not asking kids to pick a career in seventh grade” but it is important to try to identify their areas of interest and disinterest. Phelon noted that “education needs to change.”

Andrew Baker, the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board’s special projects coordinator, commented the roughly 50 guests seemed enthralled by Tuesday’s presentation. He said Westfield has implemented project-based learning in a comprehensive way, and explained he hopes WE2BA’s concept can be implemented more locally.

“It’s sort of happening in bits and pieces in this area already,” he said, adding that a greater volume of it is viable for Franklin and Hampshire county schools.

Baker also said four superintendents — Richard Martin of Franklin County Technical School, Jonathan Scagel of the Pioneer Valley Regional School District, Michael Sullivan of the Gill-Montague Regional School District and Sheryl Stanton of Granby Public Schools — seemed receptive to information dispensed at Tuesday’s meeting.

He added that Matt Allen took over the School to Career/Connecting Activities coordinator position with workforce board last week from Donna Dusell, who held the job for about four years. Allen is tasked with helping schools implement project-based learning.

“Ultimately, this has to be driven by the schools,” Baker said.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.


Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
 

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy