Announced in spring 2019, Ford Motor Company Fund and Ford Next Generation Learning partnered with the SME Education Foundation to make education opportunities available for students of Romeo High School in Romeo, Michigan, in a collaboration formed through the Foundation’s Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education (PRIME) schools’ initiative.
“The launch of this partnership marks our continued commitment to expanding future opportunities for students,” said Todd Robinson, superintendent of Romeo Community Schools. “The support we’ve received from our business community and local leaders has been phenomenal, and we’re encouraged that the partnership will better prepare and help our talented students thrive.”
SME PRIME schools directly address the manufacturing and engineering talent shortage by partnering with industry to inform and provide modern equipment, tailored curriculum and hands-on training to high schools across the country. The national program provides students with practical experience, knowledge and skills using modern technology and equipment, while allowing companies to support the career direction of youth through mentoring, internships and job shadowing.
The partnership formed through SME PRIME at Romeo High School is built on the school’s academy model. Scott Palmer, community coach for Ford NGL at Romeo, describes the initiative: “Ford NGL guides a collaborative network of stakeholders to advance student, community and workforce success following a career academy model,” Palmer said. “Teachers of English, math and science are part of this model, along with technical education. Included is an intentional and structured connection to business and industry.”
Tod Rawling, a career and technical education instructor and veteran of the manufacturing industry, endorses the model. “The academy model really encourages CTE exploration. Students are exposed to courses and experiences that add a “hands-on” element that helps develop their understanding and appreciation of the opportunities out there.”
Michael Savage, a CTE instructor with 18 years of experience (and the leader for Romeo’s FIRST Robotics teams), appreciates also the open doors of community manufacturers. “Students are made aware of, and can really fully understand, what modern manufacturing is all about when our local manufacturers invite us in for field trips and open houses. Students see the clean, bright areas and interesting, precision work of modern advanced manufacturing.”
Natalie Davis, who oversees CTE instruction at Romeo High School, points to the broad base of support necessary for successful programs. “We have a terrific CTE Advisory Committee. Representatives from five businesses as well as postsecondary partners, teachers and parents all help us shape and guide and refine our programs and courses. I’m proud of our program; of what we’re offering to students.”