MANCHESTER — School board members expressed unanimous support Monday night for a proposed partnership between the school district and Velcro Companies, which could result in paid internships and possible jobs for Manchester students.
Committee members heard a presentation on “Velcro University,” which organizers and school administrators are hopeful to have up and running at Manchester High School West in time for the start of the 2018-2019 school year. According to David Chambers, director of quality for Velcro Companies, the program is designed to “equip students with the practical business and technical skills” needed to succeed in today’s world.
“This is a very exciting opportunity to bring in businesses from outside to help our students become college and career ready,” said Manchester High School West Principal Rick Dichard.
According to Chambers, Velcro has developed a curriculum that addresses both “soft skills and technical skills.”
Chambers said the proposal operates under seven phases:
Essentials — where the student learns “soft skills” needed to contribute in a manufacturing business environment
Business Acumen — student is exposed to basic business tools, such as financial and production fundamentals
Velcro Companies Culture — teaching the student how the effectiveness of an organization can be linked to that organization’s culture
Technical Acumen — involves the student connecting with and mirroring a manufacturing employee at the Velcro Companies manufacturing facility.
Internship — students who complete all phase IV activities will be given preferential status for summer internships with Velcro Companies, based on availability.
Giving Back — intended to teach the value of community service.
Placement — completes the program. If students have successfully completed all phases of Velcro University curriculum, Velcro Companies is “committed to offer full-time entry-level employment opportunities.”
Dichard said specific curriculum items will be brought in front of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee for approval in August.
“Each phase has a competency or multiple competencies within the phase,” said Dichard.
“Not all of them will be granted an internship. Those that complete those first four phases will receive credit. Those that advance to the internship will have opportunities for additional credit. This is one of those programs where there are no losers.”
“This is a wonderful opportunity,” said Committeeman John Avard of Ward 10. “I’m very excited to see this go forward.”
“I absolutely love this initiative,” said Committeeman Jimmy Lehoux of Ward 8.
When asked about possible expansion of the program, Chambers said Velcro plans to start with the pilot program at West, then look at expanding to other high schools in the area, and in Manchester specifically.
“This, I hope, will be duplicated by other companies and corporations within our community,” said Dichard. “It’s a no brainer.”