Shawsheen Co-Op Program Tops Among Massachusetts Tech Schools
Members of the senior class are combining to earn $65,000 a week.
(Editor's note: The following infromation was submitted by the administration of Shawsheen Tech.)
Shawsheen Valley Technical High School students are having a profound impact on the local economy.
Presently, 164 seniors are gainfully employed as cooperative education students and are earning nearly $400 each and $65,000 collectively on a weekly basis.
No other high school in Massachusetts comes close to the amount of seniors being employed by private employers.
“Our curriculum and what we are teaching students is working,” said Richard Lavoie, the Cooperative Education Coordinator at Shawsheen. “We are getting our students ready for the world.”
While Shawsheen Valley Technical High School's in-house vocational and technical offerings are impressive, the quality of instruction and education learned is truly validated when students are hired after mastering core competencies by local companies. Every-other week, seniors are able to take work, in their field of study, and earn a regular paycheck while also receiving a real world look at their career.
As of April, juniors at Shawsheen Tech are also eligible for the program.
For both the student and the employer, the arrangement is mutually beneficial and often leads to full-time opportunities for students either at the coop employer or a similar business.
"Without a doubt, we have the largest number of high school seniors in the state working for local private companies," said Superintendent/Director Charles Lyons. "Because of excellent attendance, grades and training, private employers have validated these students' technical competencies."
According to Lyons, more than half of Shawsheen Tech's graduates attend four-year colleges and another 20 percent advance to some form of secondary education. Their earnings are substantial and contribute to the cost of further education. In addition, students who go directly into the workforce also have a distinct advantage over graduates of other schools.
"It's a significant advantage," Lyons said. "We have 16 seniors in plumbing and all of them are employed by local companies. Eighty-four percent of our seniors in electrical are also working for local contractors. They're all gaining hours towards their journeymen licenses, and expanding their knowledge working as apprentices for masters in their trade."
Led by Lavoie, the cooperative education program facilitates the employment program for students who become eligible for employment consideration.
Most companies are within Shawsheen's school district.
More than 150 local companies, including IBM, iRobot, Café Escadrille and Tewksbury Country Club, have hired Shawsheen students this year.
“It’s going well,” said Lavoie. “With a program like this, the only way it can be successful has to be a school effort and this has been a continuous effort on everyone’s part.”
Lavoie said coop students are constantly being monitored at school to make sure their grades stay at an acceptable level.
“We get a weekly grade sheet,” he said. “If their grade level drops, they’re off coop.”
Lavoie also said that Lyons’ focus on the attendance of the student body is an important factor to perspective employers.
“The number one thing employers ask about is attendance,” Lavoie said. “If students come to school, they’re going to come to work and Shawsheen has a 97.7 attendance rate. [Cooperative education] is a really great opportunity. The students are getting a true work experience and it gives them a good idea if a particular career is exactly what they want to do.”
"Our students are our ambassadors," said Lyons. "I can't say enough about the preparation they receive from our instructors and the value of the added experience being gained from local employer. Our students learn values and work ethic experiences that will last a lifetime. They are truly becoming productive members of society, utilizing assets gained from a first class-education received at Shawsheen. It provides adult experience at a very important age and it gives them a lot of confidence."
Employers interested in mentoring talented Shawsheen students by participating in the cooperative education program are encouraged to contact Mr. Richard Lavoie, Shawsheen’s Cooperative Education Coordinator, by calling him at 978-671-3619 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.