Collaboration continues between businesses and schools

WESTFIELD – Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski welcomed more than two dozen participants on Google Meet on March 23 for the Westfield Education to Business Alliance (WE2BA) to talk about ongoing and new opportunities for collaboration between the Westfield business community and the schools.

English Mary Keane and Lauren Figy Cadigan, supervisor for Science, Technology and Engineering, reviewed some of the successful Adopt a Classroom programs held this year, and invited other businesses to participate. Successfully completed were virtual programs with Peerless Precision, Wright Flight, and Amelia Park Children’s Museum, and an upcoming program is planned with the Westfield High School forensics class and Bay Path University forensics.

Westfield State University Science Dean Jennifer Hanselman said she had a professor interested in doing a pollination class, which had several principals on the call raising their hands with interest.

Kate Phelon, a student mentor, said she has been talking about a railroad class with the Pioneer Valley Railroad, which also spurred interest with the schools, as did Fredrika Ballard of Fly Lugu at Westfield Barnes Airport’s suggestion of a weather and meteorology class.
Phelon will also be teaching a class on resume writing.

“These Adopt-a-Classrooms are very impactful for our students. It’s about real world experiences,” Czaporowski said.

Figy Cadigan said they also lead to great connections in the community. She said through Peerless Precision, the district was able to connect with Instrument Technologies, Inc. for a donation to the schools of microscopes no longer in use.

Businesses interested in hosting an Adopt-a-Classroom project were encouraged to contact Keane or Figy Cadigan at [email protected] or [email protected]

Jonah Badiab of the MassHire Career Center in Westfield High School said they have successfully placed students interested in a career in education in Abner Gibbs, Franklin Avenue and Munger Hill elementary schools as paid interns.

Badiab said the Career Center is also planning a summer job career fair in May, and asked anyone interested in hiring students to reach out to him at WHS.

Westfield Technical Academy’s Career Technical Education Director Peter Taloumis said the cooperative learning program has been one of the highlights during COVID. He said they have 54 students from all different shops out on co-ops, six of whom are juniors. “During a pandemic, 50 something kids out on co-ops is strong,” he said.

Czaporowski also talked about the WE2BA volunteer mentoring program. He said mentoring can be 45 minutes with a student on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

“Of all the interventions that we do in Westfield through Title I, the local education agency and/or volunteering, the most beneficial by far is mentoring,” said Christopher Rogers, administrator of student interventions. He said the benefit of having an adult who is not a parent in a student’s life helps them to get across the finish line.

Czaporowski said he will be offering an upcoming one-hour training in the next couple of weeks on mentoring. He said the training will be in the evening at 6 p.m. Anyone interested may contact him at [email protected]

Czaporowski also gave an update on the in-person return of students fulltime, which begins on April 5 with grades K-5; then middle school 6-8 on April 18, and high school on May 3. He said about 20 percent of students will remain remote.

The next WE2BA meeting is scheduled for April 27 at 8 a.m.

“Thank you for sticking with us in this group even though we’re in a pandemic. I look forward to our first in-person meeting in September,” Czaporowski said.

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