Red and Blue – Is It In You?

Filed under: Schools |

With a Career and Technical Education program that covers a variety of fields including automotive, health, cosmetology, and audio and video production, Duncanville ISD is committed to training the workforce of tomorrow. It’s a goal that’s shared by national distribution company Air Products. They’ve partnered with Duncanville High School’s Engineering Academy since 2009, mentoring students and providing scholarships, supplies, and labor. Two DHS graduates have also gone on to intern with the company during college. Because of their dedication to preparing our students for the future, Duncanville ISD is pleased to announce Air Products as the Red and Blue – Is It In You? recipient for the month of September.

It’s a partnership that began at the 2009 State SkillsUsa competition, when Air Products Senior Maintenance Manager Mark Hudson was introduced to DHS Engineering Academy instructor Bart Burnett. “I have never met anyone who had so much passion about teaching his students technical and 21st Century leadership skills,” said Hudson. “Bart’s enthusiasm in SkillsUSA, coupled with obvious pride in his students, was very contagious and made us want to learn more about the program at Duncanville HS,” added Air Products Maintenance Planner Pam Glenn.

According to Glenn, Air Products is involved in regional, state, and national SkillsUSA competitions at both the high school and college levels. The company believes it’s important to develop strong personal relationships with teachers, advisors, and students. They aim to help schools stay current with the technologies and needs of industry, as well as provide a clearer understanding of available career opportunities. The 2009 SkillsUSA competition is also where Duncanville ISD graduate Keanna Mosely formed a relationship with Air Products. “I competed in the Job Interview category my senior year,” she explained. “After the competition, they said they wanted to hire me for an internship the summer after my freshman year of college.”

Keanna interned at Air Product’s Baytown facility as a maintenance technician during the summer of 2010. “I performed preventative maintenance to keep everything running smoothly. I learned what a ‘well-oiled’ operation looks like and how to spot problems by contrasting it to a plant that is shut down. It was an awesome experience.” Working with Mosely in Baytown, Glenn describes her as an amazing individual. “Her obvious drive, knowledge, and attitude made us want to learn more about what she could do. She engaged herself in every aspect of our day-to-day activities. She is a go-getter and we were fortunate to have her working with us for the short time that she did.”

Keanna was invited back for a second internship at the company’s headquarters in Pennsylvania during the summer of 2011. She was also invited to New York last October to introduce Air Products’ CEO John McGlade as the SkillsUSA CEO Champion of the Year. “Keanna presented her experience in front of more than 300 Fortune 500 business leaders, educators, and students and did a phenomenal job,” commented Glenn. “Keanna blew them away,” added Burnett who was also in attendance. “The CEO even changed his speech to address something that she had said.”

But the DHS/Air Products relationship extends beyond just SkillsUSA. After the initial meeting in 2009, company officials became a common sight around the classroom. They were invited to tour the DHS Engineering Academy and attend several special events, including a Signing and Scholarship Ceremony and an intermediate/high school collaboration at Waterview Park. Upon seeing student projects, Air Products began to offer assistance in the form of supplies and labor. They donated approximately $1,000 worth of plexiglass to rebuild the Duncanville HS Aquatic Farm. They also sub-contracted the production of parts for a student-built robot, and worked with students to complete both projects. “I cannot even begin to figure the cost of time for all the engineers and managers who have spent hours during the work-day with us,” said Burnett. “It has allowed students to see what it is like to work on a professional level with fellow engineers.” The latest donation was a sponsorship of four engineering students to attend a leadership conference this summer totaling $2,500.

Glenn says the priceless partnership isn’t only one-sided. “Having our employees involved in judging competitions and providing technical advice seems to give them a strong sense of self satisfaction, builds stronger self-confidence, and helps to build our own leadership skills. It’s a huge boost when we recognize that sharing our skills and experience is a direct benefit to the advisors and students.” Both parties hope that this relationship will continue into the future. “It allows students to see that if they not only dream to achieve,  but dream big, there are no real limits to what they may do in the classroom and upon graduation,” commented Burnett. “We hope that it will grow and set the precedent for relationships we build with other schools and advisors,” added Glenn. “The need for a skilled future workforce in the US, and specifically Texas, is growing each year. Air Products is excited to be part of the solution in meeting those needs.”

…courtesy of the Duncanville ISD Friday Informer