By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – There so many positive things that are the result of a working partnership. Mentoring, support, growth, cooperation and more occur when the people involved truly believe in what they are dong and work together to achieve a common goal.
The Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce has a unique partnership with Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School. What first started as a school-business partnership model over 20 years ago has evolved into a number of programs to include Business Forward Females (BFF), a women’s professional networking group, which is co- chaired by Pam Stevens; a School/Business Partnership program; and HYPE9, a young professionals program that has also been involved in Assabet’s annual Career Day, as well as mentoring throughout the year.
It seems as though any time any of the highly trained teachers or people in the business communities have become involved, the networking has led to other projects and opportunities. This relationship was crucial to the continued success of the programs that are implemented.
“Since part of our mission is to support education in our region, we decided that we wanted to develop a strong partnership program with our high schools in our communities from K-12 in the core towns that we represent. At that time it was Northborough, Southborough, Westborough and Shrewsbury. We do also have Grafton but they have another chamber in their region. We want to include the technical high school in our region and so we have created a wonderful relationship and partnership with Assabet,” said Karen J. Chapman, the chamber’s president.
Russell P. Mangsen, Assabet’s director of technical programs, is also an active participant in the chamber. He helps to develop business relationships and networks on behalf of his students.
“In 2013, I went to my first ‘kick-off’ meeting. There was mention made of how furniture was needed (at several schools). I had just received a lead from Craig Bernier, the facilities director of Hologic in Marlborough and a graduate of Bay Path Vocational High School, who offered furniture donations. We looked at other people’s needs, like in Northborough. These items were donated to three schools,” Mangsen said.
Through the chamber’s School Business Partnership Program, mini grants are awarded each year for innovation enhancement of the curriculum and resources needed to accomplish projects.
Sometimes, as was the case at for one proposal, the project did not receive a grant, but enough people felt passionate about it to make it happen. That was the case when Steven Knight, an educator at the Robert E. Melican Middle School in Northborough, submitted a proposal for a “Skate Club.” Jennifer MacNeil, one of the grant evaluators, helped to raise the monies for it. Wayne Coulson, who teaches house carpentry at Assabet, oversaw students who made a custom ramp that could be used indoors and outside. Neal Mansfield’s students in welding and metal fabrication made the rail for the project.
Each spring, for the chamber’s annual meeting, its board of directors picks a fun theme which is then incorporated into the meeting. The board members dress appropriately and games are organized around that theme.
This year’s theme was based on the iconic movie, “Grease,” with Becky Roman of Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital as “Sandy” and Dave Bagdon of the Community Advocate as “Danny.” (Chapman, Steve Anderson, Mary Simone and Bette O’Reilly also dressed as characters.)
Before the event, the cast dressed in their costumes for a photo shoot which was done by two Assabet students, Lily Plummer and Chris Boutwell. The two then created poster boards for the chamber to display at the meeting.
“If there is a need, we try to assist. This is not just for Assabet but among all schools. We, at Assabet, have resources that allow us to do more. Highly trained teachers that are required to work in their field prior to becoming licensed to teach in career and technical education and equipment that is current with business and industry standards all result in a workforce that is ready for our students,” said Mangsen.