My article in Government Technology magazine
CUSTOMIZED EDUCATION: Program focused on preparing the future work force builds educational success in New York’s South Bronx one student at a time.
Often described as “urban blight” or a “toxic environment,” the Hunts Point neighborhood in New York City’s Bronx has its share of positive stories. One such example is the GreenFab educational program at Bronx Guild High School, which is designed to foster 21st-century skills in at-risk youth and prepare them for work force readiness in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields — primarily “green collar” jobs.
GreenFab evolved as a response to inner city students’ need for instruction that connects with them. The program draws on students’ environmental and economic conditions and problems as raw material from which to create an instructional program — and the staff doesn’t see the school as a technical or job-training institution. “We’re a college prep school that uses real-world experiences to improve academics,” said Bronx Guild High School Co-Director Jeff Palladino. GreenFab impacts kids because it exposes them to STEM subjects through real-world issues, he said. “They help our kids connect academic subject matter to real-life applications, experiment and create things, and solve problems that directly impact them, especially environmental justice issues.”
The program provides numerous opportunities that can be customized to individual needs. Some students are interested in creative technology, and some are interested in environmental work, Palladino said. GreenFab originally was designed as an after-school internship, but Bronx Guild students are in class three days a week and participate in the program two days a week. “We want them to fi nd their passions and run with them,” he said. “For instance, one of my seniors hopes to follow his passion for technology and create robots that will assist people with disabilities, people like returning war veterans who have lost limbs. He wants to get into the biomedical fi eld through this interest.”
school experience that can get these kids well on the road to being productive citizens,”she said.
Bronx Guild High School has an articulated vision of learning through meaningful work, and work force preparation is a major thrust at the school.
Students participate in off-campus internships, which may represent the most meaningful portion of their educational experience. Roughly 80 Bronx Guild students participate in GreenFab internships each year. The student interns report to GreenFab for a special curriculum that includes applied science, engineering and environmental studies with a focus on understanding the urban environment, said Corbett Beder, senior director of research and development at Vision Education and Media..."