School teachers and officials from Scotia-Glenville School District and Burnt Hills- Ballston Lake School District chatted with sergeants and a major of the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard Wednesday.
Behind them were three propulsion systems members of the guard were working on.
The tour of the 109th facilities was part of an effort by the town to bring businesses and school districts serving students in Glenville together to find ways to show students opportunities locally that may not necessarily require a college degree and also offer on-the-job training.
“It’s here but you don’t know it,” said Karen Swain, the assistant superintendent of the Scotia-Glenville School District. She had been chatting with Sgt. Stephanie Lambert on ways the guard and school district might get students together with guard members so students could learn what the guard does at the 109th base.
“You have a very unique unit here with a very unique mission,” said Maj. Jim Roth.
Roth said the base offers hands-on experiences that enable members to learn a multitude of skills all while knowing they can stay in the community.
Tours of businesses started Wednesday morning with a stop at a cheese manufacturing facility, where educators from the Niskayuna Central School District also joined in to hear what area businesses have to offer students.
Many of the officials were impressed by the operations at BelGioioso Cheese.
Niskayuna counselor Tim Albanese liked hearing about the retention rates of employees there and how they were able to move up during their careers.
Officials also toured Dimension Fabricators before hearing from the Metroplex Development Authority, Center for Economic Growth and Capital Regional Chamber about what assistance they provide to businesses and ways school districts could interact with them to help students as they begin exploring their futures.
A visit to Bruno Associated introduced everyone to some of the presses the company produces for a host of companies creating everything from sponges to puzzles.
“We’re always looking for people who want to join manufacturing,” said owner Bob Bruno.
Bruno and his son Sean took the participants around the facility, explaining how the business operates, while some people posed questions along the way.
Educators said they will be bringing back everything they learned and saw to their students.
Part of making students realize what other businesses and education options are available is destigmatizing working with your hands and that it’s not as meaningful as getting a college degree, said Patrick Collins, the Technology Education Department chairman for the Scotia-Glenville School District.
“I think we’ve gotten to a point that we need to shake that linear mindset,” he said.
One thing the school district educators agreed on was that the conversation needs to continue between the school district, town and businesses.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa Superintendent Patrick McGrath said a network should be set up so people could communicate what’s happening in the community with business and that message would be relayed to others in the school districts.
“That could be a great action step,” McGrath said.