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PRIME School Highlight

Unadilla Valley High School Trains Next-Generation Manufacturers With SME PRIME

Unadilla Valley High School is making vast strides in implementing the SME PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) program since being temporarily thrown off course by the COVID-19 pandemic.   


Located in rural New Berlin, New York, Unadilla Valley was officially awarded an SME PRIME bolster grant — $157,500 over a period of three years — in early 2022. But the process really got started a few years before that, when William Rexroat, technology education teacher at Unadilla Valley, visited SME’s EASTEC event, where he found out about the SME PRIME program. Rexroat submitted an application to the PRIME program just months before COVID hit, which temporarily derailed the process. But it got back on track, and the Corning Inc. Foundation — located nearby in Corning, New York — joined the project as the primary donor. Walking Ridge, a local organization that works toward sustained business and community prosperity throughout the region, also donated. 

Speaking of the partnership, Brenton S. Taylor — superintendent of Unadilla Valley Central School District — says, “They’ve already worked out a three-year plan based on the funding that we’re going to get, to make sure that we have the right material and equipment to infuse into the program to jump-start it, and then make it sustainable.” 

With the initial funding, Unadilla was able to buy a Starrett precision measurement instrument (PMI) toolkit and a Snap-on storage unit. The SME PRIME program also funded a trip by Rexroat to Tennessee, where he trained with the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) and is now a certified trainer in six different categories.

Unadilla-Valley-High-School-1.jpgOnce students graduate from the PRIME program, they’ll be ready to go on to post-secondary education or to go straight into the workforce at one of the region’s companies, including Corning Inc. and Walking Ridge Development, among others. 

Rexroat is happy to have new equipment that will help him train students on manufacturing skills needed in the area. “One of our worries is that an employer in the area can’t find key personnel, and then they either have to close shop or move shop,” he says. “I hope that we become one of the primary sources of talent and skills, and we can strengthen those businesses.” 

“Kids need to be exposed to manufacturing opportunities,” adds Taylor. You ask a kindergartener what they want to be, and they want to be a teacher because they’ve been exposed to teachers. They need exposure to some of the critical industrial pieces that make up our country’s infrastructure. I think it’s our job as a school to provide that exposure.”

“Education and, in particular, workforce development, are focus areas for the Corning Incorporated Foundation,” says Andrea Lynch, president, Corning Foundation. “Supporting the SME Education Foundation to enhance Unadilla Valley High School’s advanced manufacturing curriculum as a PRIME school meets the Corning Foundation’s framework by helping high school students gain critical manufacturing skills. Corning Life Sciences has a plant in nearby Oneonta, New York, and this partnership will benefit it and other local companies.”

SME PRIME Success Stories

Read more about SME PRIME programs impacting high schools across the country. SME PRIME students receive hands-on training on modern equipment, and learn about technology and processes through tailored curriculum that is informed by local manufacturers in their communities.