Published: 8/21/2022 11:55:18 AM
Updated: 8/21/2022 11:51:45 AM
SOUTH DEERFIELD — Students at Frontier Regional School will soon have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with an engineering workshop or blood pressure screening thanks to two grants awarded to the school.
The school received nearly $150,000 through the state’s Capital Skills and Innovation Pathway grant programs, which encourage schools, nonprofits and other community-based organizations to develop programs to help students develop in-demand workforce skills. Frontier received last year $18,725 planning grant To develop the framework for the new Advanced Engineering and Healthcare/Social Care Career Pathway units that the School is offering.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Sara Mitchell, Frontier High School’s director of education. “We’re trying to enhance our school-to-work experience.”
With the grant, Frontier purchased 3D printers, a CNC router (a computer-controlled cutting machine), a milling machine and other miscellaneous components for its advanced manufacturing and engineering pipeline, as well as a “complete healthcare suite” that includes two. hospital beds and two nursing mannequins, allowing students to get their feet wet on career paths in health care and social care.
Mitchell said this is an opportunity for Frontier to explore additional programs for students looking to expand their skills beyond advanced placement classes and other specialized courses.
“It’s a more hands-on learning experience for students,” Mitchell explained. “It’s a little more boots on the ground and it leads students to do more practice and learn about these skills.”
In addition, the school works with several local businesses and organizations in a grant-funded community outreach coordinator position, allowing students to find internships and gain hands-on experience. Mitchell said Frontier has agreements with Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Franklin County Community Health Care Center, Pelican Products and Alber Hearing Services.
“(Students) hopefully have a better idea of where they want to go after high school,” she said. “If they have the opportunity to explore these career fields before they leave high school, they have a better understanding of whether this career is the right choice for them.”
While the grant itself is exciting, Mitchell said Frontier staff were overwhelmed by the number of students who showed interest in the two new classes, so they had to split them into two classes.
“What’s surprising is, the biggest news for us is interest rates,” she said. “We had about 40 students enrolled in each class; we worried about not having enough enrollment. That speaks to the importance of coursework like this.”
Frontier chose engineering and health care as the two avenues to investigate because MassHire, the state’s employment network, identified them as the two most in-demand industries. Mitchell Frontier has offered similar one-off programs in the past, but this is the first time the school has explored “very unique” career paths.
Chris Larabee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-930-4081.