Business Alliance boosts Tech Valley High

Twenty-seven local leaders from the public and private sectors were named Tuesday as new members of
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Twenty-seven local leaders from the public and private sectors were named Tuesday as new members of the Business Alliance for Tech Valley High School.

Tech Valley High School is a joint venture of Questar III BOCES and the Capital Region BOCES. The high school, funded with state and private grants, is in its first year with 40 freshman students from throughout the districts that make up the two participating BOCES. It’s located inside the Rensselaer Technology Park in Troy.

Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce President Chuck Steiner was named as one of the members of the Business Alliance. He said each participating school district is entitled to have one student selected to attend the school and he encourages interested 8th-graders in Schenectady County to apply.

“They are now in recruitment for the next group of 9th-graders to be entering Tech Valley High. It’s a four-year process to build up grades 9 through 12, so 2008 presents a nice opportunity for us,” Steiner said.

Amy Johnson, the president of Capstone Inc. in Latham, is the co-chair of the Business Alliance along with Kevin Leyden, an IBM executive who works in Albany. Johnson said the business leaders and community leaders who participate in the alliance will be a key resource for the students and faculty of Tech Valley High.

“We are trying to help the high school with communication, technology and workflow. The kinds of things you would think are commonplace in industry, and are givens, but education hasn’t really been exposed to those things,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she anticipates members of the Business Alliance will meet with faculty and students at Tech Valley High “at least once a month” to help maintain the connection between local business and the school’s curriculum.

The curriculum at Tech Valley High School is entirely based on projects in which students apply elements of the New York state curriculum to real world problems and tasks. Johnson said the Business Alliance is in the process of developing task forces to address various needs of the school. One group will use business practices to market successful elements of the school’s curriculum to other schools.

“If we develop a curriculum that we really like, is there a business model that allows us to take that curriculum and broadcast it to other high schools for a fee because it’s so valuable,” she asked. “That’s a kind of [profit and loss] model that you don’t think a high school would be typically thinking about. We’re here to educate the student, but is there a way to capitalize on the things that we are learning and achieving in the high school to basically make ourselves more sustainable?”

Chris Horne, the community relations officer for Niskayuna-based GE Global Research, was named as a new member to the Business Alliance. She said General Electric will be involved in projects at Tech Valley High School.

“We want to bring real world problems to life for students,” Horn said. “In the end what we’re interested in is developing our pipeline of world-class technology professionals. We actually have employees at GE right now who initially were exposed to GE through high school education programs, who were so excited about GE that they ended up pursuing technical careers with GE in the very businesses they were exposed to. It really does work.”

Ed Nadeau, business agent for the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 7, was also named a Business Alliance member. He said he supports the project-based learning method of teaching because it closely mirrors the apprentice program style of his union. “I think public schools need to change the way they teach,” Nadeau said. “We’ve been teaching for the last 100 years how to work for money and not how to have money work for you. The schools need to get into the 21st century and let people know that instead of working for a business you can start a business.”

Other leaders named members of the Business Alliance include Edward Baker, dean of continuing education, Schenectady County Community College; Clinton Ballinger, CEO, Evident Technologies; Paul Burton, president, DynaBil Industries; John Corey, president, Clever Fellows Innovation Consortium Inc.; Robert Geer, assistant vice president for academic affairs, Albany Nanotech; Douglas Hamlin, president & CEO, Versatrans Solutions Inc.; LaMar Hill, president & CEO, International Alliance of Nanotechnology Regions; Linda Hillman, president, Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce; Carolyn Jones, publisher, Business Review; Craig Keefer, vice president, M&T Bank; Jeff Lawrence, senior vice president, Center for Economic Growth; Kyle Litz, scientist/ lab manager, Applied NanoWorks, Inc.; Drew Matonak, president, Hudson Valley Community College; Ann Moynihan, president, Documentation Strategies Inc.; Ryan O’Donnell, CEO, BullEx Digital Safety; Susan Philips, dean of the school education, University at Albany; Suzanne Pollard, economic development specialist, Empire State Development Corp.; Ken Romanski, executive vice president, CMA Consulting Services; William Rozich, director, 300M Operations, IBM; Tobi Saulnier, CEO, 1st Playable Productions; Tymm Schumaker, senior materials engineer, Lockheed Martin Corporation/ Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory; Lyn Taylor, president, Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce; John Tobin, architect, Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering, P.C.; Elizabeth Worthington, vice president, organizational development, Mohawk Fine Papers Inc.

Categories: Business

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