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Month: August 2017

Culinary Arts Launches New Mentoring Program with the HBA

The Hospitality Business Alliance (HBA) has entered into an exclusive partnership with South Tech’s Culinary Arts Program. The HBA’s mission is to foster a culture of respect and cooperation between hospitality businesses and their supplier partners and South Tech hosts one of only two American Culinary Federation certified high school programs in the St. Louis region (the other is at our partner school North Tech). This cooperative program will enhance our curriculum through one to one mentorship.

The program brings senior level students together with a mentor who will work with them throughout the school year. After initial meetings and interviews in September, students will job shadow with their mentor in October or November, check-in during December for a grade and professionalism review, have an additional job shadowing experience in the spring, then mentors and students will end the year with a luncheon in April. Mentors will dedicate a minimum of 7 hours to their student over the course of the school year and also have the option to provide equipment, in-class trainings, field trips, guest speakers,  or to serve as a judge for the many contests our students compete in each year. Mentors are also welcome to join the Culinary Arts advisory board that meets twice annually to conduct program and curriculum reviews.

Paul Witwer, a 30 plus year veteran of the hospitality industry and employee of Performance Food Group Middendorf, is a co-founder of the HBA. He was exposed to the South Tech’s Culinary Arts program two years ago and was immediately impressed. The level of professionalism, the quality, the standards, and the work ethic of the instructors and the students went well beyond his expectations. “They are awesome, full of energy, and so professional and disciplined,” he said of the students.

Melissa Maness and David Bass, program instructors, developed the mentoring program with Witwer to aid both students and the industry. Due to a need for more highly skilled and talented employees in the industry, Witwer felt that there were multiple companies who would be interested in supporting South Tech’s Culinary Arts program. “I think everybody should participate,” he said.

The program has received an overwhelming amount of support, with 21 mentors from 13 different local and regional companies already committed to serve including: Alex Herman, Anne Horton, Jay Vaughn, Chris Desens, and Rob Lyons of Performance Food Group, Josh Galliano of Companion, Lute Cain of Forest Hills Country Club, Christian Gullet and Robert Opdenbrouw of Lutheran Senior Services, Bob Menedez of Sunset 44, Grant Higgs and Bart Phillips of Missouri Athletic Club, Dan Holtgrave of Old Warson Country Club, Chris Stroup of Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, Brian Menzel of Glen Echo Country Club, Josh Schlink of River City Casino, Bobby Tessler of St. Louis Wing Company, Todd Corum of the St. Louis Zoo, William Ortmann and Beau Meadows of Cardinals Nation, and David Laufer of River City Casino.

To learn more about the HBA, visit their website here:  http://hospitalitybusinessalliance.com/.
PARIC Joins South Tech as Industry Partner

South Tech’s Construction Innovations students were treated to a special kick-off to their classes hosted by our newest industry partner, St. Louis’ PARIC Construction.

Jeffrey Eye, Manager of Learning and Development for PARIC, and Bill Willman – Superintendent, shared a brief presentation with students about the company’s current projects, growth, and employee needs. The program included information about buildings like the Scott Trade Center so students could see the vast scale and scope of the types of major construction projects they could work on someday, as well as an emphasis on safety. Eye and Willman also distributed PARIC bags to each student which included their safety vest, safety glasses, and personalized hard hats which the company had provided free of charge.

PARIC wants to “build the pipeline”, Eye said. Through mentoring, speaker visits, job site visits and tours, and more, they will support students in South Tech’s construction programs at the junior and senior level and beyond. PARIC has experienced tremendous growth over the last two years, more than doubling the number of carpenters in their Self-Perform group (PARIC’s own group of full-time tradespeople). They have offered a college internship program for several years in engineering, estimating, and management, but wanted to extend their reach further back in order to inspire and mentor students at the high school level.

Sharing information about regional opportunities in construction with students is constant practice at South Tech as the need for skilled tradespeople continues to grow and the skills gap remains unfilled. Partnering with secondary and post-secondary educators in the fields that fuel these career paths is becoming a key component of industry outreach strategies and we are proud to have PARIC join our efforts to inspire and prepare young people for the construction careers they explore at South Tech.

South Tech Welders Finish Strong with the Help of Local 36

This past June, several South Tech students traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the SkillsUSA National Championships. Among them were Joel Besch, Jared Jacquot, and Jason Neier. With the help of Mark Carron, teacher and employee of the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 36, this team of three overcame some significant challenges as they prepared for the Welding Fabrication competition and finished 7th in the nation.

The South Tech Welding lab underwent a complete renovation over the summer but construction of their classroom began in late spring. Although the team had been through regional and state SkillsUSA contests, among several other competitions during the year, practice before nationals was still critical. Our campus didn’t have an appropriate place in which to prepare, so our partners at the Sheet Metals Local 36 graciously offered them the use of their extensive welding lab. By the time our students were ready to travel to Louisville, they also had an additional mentor and coach.

Mark Carron, a highly skilled and revered member of the union, stepped in to assist the team whenever they were at the union campus. Carron has been with the union for several years and also serves as one of their instructors teaching adult classes at night. He had never worked with high school students before and enjoyed inspiring them while sharing his vast knowledge of fabrication and welding. The competition required that students use both of these skills to design and build a combination welding and cutting table. “It was a complex competition”, said Harmon as he described coaching the team to think of fabrication in terms of working backwards from their finished project. Among many specifications, skills and tools required, Carron helped them as they used Auto Cad, learned to monitor cut lists, determined which tools they would use, and practiced efficient time management. Carron said they came up with “a really good design” and picked up fabrication skills very well considering the limited prep time. He felt brought together their ideas, skills, and personalities to create a winning team.

Besch, Jacquot, and Neier spent several evenings at the union prior to the end of the school year. Additionally, daytime sessions from 6am to 12pm were added during the summer weeks leading up to the competition. Carron was with the team for the bulk of these sessions and the Local 36 supplied all of the tools and materials the team needed. Carron’s time commitment was incredibly generous and the students were very grateful.

Senior Joel Besch learned a lot from Carron and felt he was really helpful. “He taught me a lot about torch cutting and had a lot of good ideas,” Besch said. Prepping for the competition required the team to troubleshoot their design as they progressed and Carron’s guidance helped them through brainstorming their developmental design process. Besch said each team member found their niche as they worked through the project. He focused on torch cutting, layout, and prepping proper edges, Jacquout did the bulk of the design and layout work, and Neier concentrated on the welding components. The assistance from Carron and the Local 36 was critical, Besch said, “We couldn’t have done this without them.”

Welding instructor Adam Holt agreed and credited Local 36 for their willingness to help and their ongoing support. The union donates equipment and materials to our programs and members serve on our Welding and HVAC advisory boards who are always available to assist our students and teachers. Holt felt Carron’s guidance helped his team develop their work ethic further as they perfected their teamwork. He noticed improvements in their communications skills as well.

South Tech’s business and industry partners provide our students with much more than a glimpse into the world of work. Through mentorship, internships, shadowing experiences, training and more, our partners help us provide students with the skills sought by employers that enhance their degrees and certifications. To learn more about the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 36, visit their website at http://sheetmetal36.org . Businesses interested in partnering with South Tech can contact our school at 314-989-7400.

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