Adopt a Classroom makes most of remote experience

Peerless Precision Owner Kristin Carlson and an employee show students one of the parts manufactured at the plant. (WPS PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – Westfield Public Schools English Language Arts Supervisor Mary Keane said the remote experience has in some ways been advantageous for the Adopt a Classroom program, an initiative of the Westfield Education to Business Alliance.

“A neat experience with the two projects that we had this year; kids can see things in the businesses that they might not have been able to see without remote,” Keane said.

In October, grade 6 students from JoAnn Roselli and Matt Wroth’s Westfield Intermediate School’s Remote Team met Kristin Carlson, owner of Peerless Precision, via Google Meet.

Keane said Carlson gave students insight into what it is like to be a female business owner in a male-dominated field. She also took students on a virtual tour of the full service precision manufacturing plant, where they saw machines in action in areas they would not have been able to visit in person.

During the tour, Carlson interviewed six employees who had attended Westfield Technical Academy, and spoke about her own path in the field. Keane said it is important for kids to see different career paths they can take, especially in manufacturing, where there are many career opportunities in Westfield.

Keane said when Carlson talked about women in STEM, a student posted the following comment in the chat: “You’re so successful!!! This tells me to follow my dreams…”

Wright Flight President Mike Gutowski (right) and WTA Aviation instructor Galen Wilson speak to students about Wright Flight, the WTA hangar, and WTA’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program. (WPS PHOTO)

The same class partnered on Dec. 16 with Wright Flight President Mike Gutowski and volunteer Jim Wysocki at Westfield Barnes Airport. Keane said this project had originally been in the works for last year, before the schools shut down.

Western Mass Wright Flight introduces students in grades 7 through 12 to the field of aviation, its history, the principles of flight, and the many career opportunities available in the aviation industry.

Gutowski took the students on a tour of Westfield Barnes Airport, accompanied by Wysocki on camera. He also introduced them to a flight simulator with three big screens. Keane said students loved that, and asked Gutowski to fly over their neighborhoods, if he could do a barrel roll, and what happens if a plane crashes on the simulator.

Gutowski interviewed Airport Manager Christopher Willenborg, who talked about making the connection to careers, and how many different jobs there are in the industry, from airport maintenance to airplane mechanics. Willenborg also talked about how he got interested in aviation at a young age.

Teachers Wroth and Roselli then encouraged the students to take a movement break while Gutowski walked over to Hangar 2, to meet WTA Aviation teacher Galen Wilson. Wilson took them on a tour of the historic hangar, and told them about the experience students get in his program.

“It was so cool. I just thought we could never have taken 56 kids over there to do this,” Keane said.

She said every time you have a successful project it leads to more opportunities. Gutowski agreed to do another program with the rest of the sixth graders later in the year, and leave open the option for students who are especially interested to go on a physical tour post-COVID.

“There have been some very neat opportunities because we are virtual that we wouldn’t have had,” Keane said.

Another upcoming Adopt a Classroom project will be with Science, Technology and Engineering Supervisor Lauren Figy with Baypath University and a Westfield HIgh School forensics class.

Keane said any businesses or organizations that would be interested in doing an Adopt a Classroom project this year may contact her at [email protected]

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