district logo all students achieving at high levels

STEM classroom shows true collaboration!!



Pictured from left to right: ESD Curriculum Director Terry Parker, ESD School Board Member Tina McGann, ESD School Board President Corey Cassell, OSPI Superintendent Randy Dorn, ESD Superintendent Mike Nelson, Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett, State Sen. Pam Roach, King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, Enumclaw Mayor Liz Reynolds, AJAC Executive Director Laura Hopkins, AJAC Committee Chair Jesse Cote and, kneeling, AJAC Apprentice and Hill AeroSystems Employee Trevor Sawyer.

Article written by Brenda Sexton:
Seth Anderson epitomizes Enumclaw High School’s partnership in the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) program.

During the day, the senior attends a machining, manufacturing and welding class at Enumclaw High School, where he also earns a “tech prep” vocational college credit. In the afternoon he heads to work at Enumclaw’s After Market Product (AMP), which specializes in machining parts for the aerospace industry. There he earns a paycheck and one night a week returns to the high school machine shop for a hands-on apprenticeship program.

“It definitely opens up a lot of opportunity,” Anderson said.

When Anderson graduates in June, he will have the jump on other high school graduates toward a Journey-Level Certificate that would enable him to work as a master tradesperson as well as earning credit toward an associate’s degree.

Bringing in a program that addresses growing local employer demand for skilled workers in aerospace and advanced manufac¬turing went from a community “wish” to reality in less than a year when the cities of Enumclaw and Black Diamond, the Enumclaw School District, and area employers joined forces to launch AJAC’s machining apprenticeship program in April.

“Everything happened really fast,” EHS teacher Mark Berryhill said. “From the initial first call to right now has been about a year. It’s been lightning fast.”

“It’s the educational perfect storm,” said Enumclaw High Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director Kevin Smith.

The desire to expand its CTE programs aligned with funding and the drive of community support to take the vision from paper to hands-on, real world learning for students.

“I think the AJAC model of a community partnership, it couldn’t, it wouldn’t happen, if it was just our idea,” said Enumclaw School Board President Corey Cassell, who has been a proponent for years. “It had to be a multi-partner endeavor. There was no other way to make it happen.

“The city got involved, the businesses got involved, we got in¬volved, and AJAC got involved,” Cassell said. “It’s an opportunity to learn where the rubber hits the road, where the skills are applied.”

The district was working with Green River Community College on expanding CTE programs, but before they could move forward the machine shop needed upgrades, especially an expensive electrical revamping.

Financially, it was the first time in four years the district was not facing substantial budget cuts. Since 2008, the district slashed $4.5 million from its budget forcing staff reductions and stifling programs. Finally, by pooling levy money, a $25,000 grant from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and a $2,500 Enumclaw Schools Foundation grant, the district was able to make headway.

That same year, in October 2012, the school district hosted a STEM Expo. STEM is the state’s initiative emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math.

Cassell, who is also a Boeing employee, sees that as the catalyst. AJAC brought a trailer to the STEM Expo and Executive Director Laura Hopkins spoke passionately about the apprenticeship pro¬gram at a Rotary meeting where business owners in attendance seized on the concept.

“One thing led to another and within six months we had a deal,” Cassell said. “It snowballed and the next thing we knew they were bringing in equipment and hiring an instructor.”

AJAC provided $150,000 in equipment, supplies and machine shop reconfiguration services including a HAAS CNC, manual lathes, manual mills and inspection equipment. Local businesses have provided material.

“It’s rare that you can have so many community groups working together in partnership on this type of initiative,” said Terry Parker, Enumclaw School District Director of Curriculum. “That’s been exciting.”

AJAC is a statewide, nonprofit organization that develops apprenticeship programs that combine supervised on-the-job train¬ing with college-level classroom instruction. The programs are industry-driven and offer aerospace and advanced manufactur¬ing employers the opportunity to build a well-qualified and experienced workforce.

“Enumclaw came on my radar because of the employer demand in the area and we needed to find a location in that region with whom to partner,” Hopkins said.

AJAC also runs a successful program with Arlington High and saw this as a good fit in the community.

“We work on a pull not push system,” Hopkins said. “The employ¬ers were pulling us to the region. There was enough community, school and employer involvement in Enumclaw to drive a great partnership.”

Cathy Fallen, Enumclaw Schools Foundation member and owner of Pacific Metallurgical in Kent, was one of those pulling. Many of her colleagues sit on Enumclaw’s STEM Committee and had been dreaming of a program like this for years.

“Awesome,” said Enumclaw’s Ted DeVol, owner of DeVol Engi¬neering. He’s been banging on the school district’s door for years for a program like AJAC. “I think it’s great.”

In 2011, DeVol placed three parts on a table before the Enum¬claw School Board and said, “We can’t find anyone to produce them for me. Nobody is training anyone to do this.”

It was a plea not just for him, but also for the industry itself.

“There’s a need for graduates with these skills,” he said.

Participants in the partnership are hoping to bridge the gap be¬tween K-12 education and the workplace, where employers want to hire skilled workers, but workers need the job to learn the skills.

With AJAC here, local businesses like DeVol Engineering, AMP, Helac Corporation, Hill AeroSystems, B&G Industries, and M&L Machine, can not only find EHS graduates with the skills needed to start work, but can send them across town one night a week for continued training through Bates Technical College at EHS’s multi-trade machine shop.

“It’s hard trying to find a skilled employee you can bring in and they can work right away,” Fallen said. “If we can bring someone in who is ready and willing to work we can train them on site.”

“Our students need experience to get hired in town,” Smith said. “They get that experience in the classroom. Then they get hired in town, come back and take the apprentice class at night. It’s this nice little circle.”

Berryhill, took his students through some of the local businesses to expose them to the world of manufacturing and machining.

“The kids came back ecstatic,” Berryhill said.

For business owners it’s an opportunity to raise the image of manufacturing, not just to students, but also to parents.

“We need to get kids excited,” Fallen said. “It’s all about that spark.”

“It’s definitely a piece of the vision,” Cassell said. “For us, for the board, the vision is to have as many strong opportunities available for students as possible and really focus around STEM. If you have those skills there’s more you can do.”