Students at Boston's Madison Park Vocational Technical High School can now practice their electrical skills in the community with a new van and supplies, thanks to Local 103 and the area chapter of the National Electrical Contractors' Association.
“This is a great opportunity for the students to get out of the classroom and get exposed to a real-life working experience," said McDonald Electric contractor Tom Cooney, who also sits on the board of Madison Park. "The sense of accomplishment they will experience from having done something in the community will last for years. And that feeling is far greater than any classroom or shop assignment experience."
When Cooney heard that Madison Park, Boston's only technical high school, had a need for a van and supplies, he knew to turn to Local 103. The partnership between the school and the local runs deep, with a number of members also claiming alumni status. One of those members is Business Agent Renee Dozier.
"We stay in constant contact with the school, and it's our love language to give and serve," Dozier said of the generous donation.
The van, which came with a Madison Park-branded decorative wrap, was full of roughly $10,000 worth of supplies, courtesy of NECA. The supplies included Milwaukee battery-powered tools like drills, band saws and cable cutters, electricians' hand tools, gang boxes and branded shirts and sweatshirts.
"The students were just thrilled to see all the new equipment they'll have the opportunity to use and, of course, we as instructors appreciate how it will enhance our lessons," said Michael Norris, a Local 103 member and instructor at the school, to the Dorchester Reporter. "The donations are really going to go a long way for Madison Park's electrical program."
The van will allow the students to get out into the community and practice what they're learning in the classroom and the shop. Whether it's working with Habitat for Humanity or at a local senior center, the students will get the chance to do some authentic work, Norris said.
"It's the piece that was missing from our curriculum," Norris said. "This way they're not just sitting around doing doorbells."
Norris, who teaches juniors and seniors, says it's particularly beneficial for freshmen and sophomores since they don't get to work in the field until their junior year.
"The sophomores are itching for more," he said. "With the van, we can go to the next step."
Since Madison Park is the only technical school in the city, it acts as a feeder for Local 103's apprenticeship program, with junior and senior students getting the opportunity to work with IBEW signatory contractors like McDonald Electric. And starting in the fall, they'll also get the chance to have a mentor through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, something Cooney will be a part of.
"I'll get the opportunity to mentor a junior in the electrical program through his or her senior year," said the 35-year IBEW member. "The hope here is that they will graduate and get into Local 103 and hopefully work for McDonald Electrical Corporation."
Norris said the program has grown from 40 students to 80, thanks in large part to Local 103's support. The van is just the latest demonstration of its commitment to seeing the Madison Park students succeed. And by supporting the school, they're also supporting the community.
"Local 103 is committed to the future of our industry as well as the future of our community. They go hand in hand," said Business Manager Lou Antonellis. "One can't be successful without the other."