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With $150K grant, Frontier offering engineering, health care classes – The Recorder

Dan Murphy, fabrication lab manager and wood shop instructor at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield, with a row of new 3D printers. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ
Dan Murphy, fabrication lab manager and wood shop instructor at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield, with the “fourth axis” for the new laser cutter that allows etching on round materials. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ
Frontier Regional School’s new laser printer etches an image into aluminum in the fabrication lab. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ
Dan Murphy, fabrication lab manager and wood shop instructor at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield, uses one of the new 3D printers. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ
Dan Murphy, fabrication lab manager and wood shop instructor at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield, with the new SawStop table saw in the wood shop. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ
SOUTH DEERFIELD — Frontier Regional School students will soon have a chance to get hands-on experience in an engineering workshop or administering blood pressure checks through two grants awarded to the school.
The school received nearly $150,000 through the state’s Capital Skills and Innovation Pathways grant programs, which encourage schools, nonprofits and other community-based organizations to develop programs that help students develop in-demand workforce skills. Last year, Frontier received an $18,725 planning grant to develop the framework of the new advanced engineering and health care/social assistance career pathway classes the school is offering.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Frontier’s Director of Secondary Education Sarah Mitchell. “We’re trying to beef up our school-to-work experience.”
With the grant, Frontier has purchased 3D printers, a CNC router (a computer-controlled cutting machine), a milling machine and other assorted components for its advanced manufacturing and engineering pathway, while also purchasing a “full health care suite” that includes two hospital beds and two Nursing Anne mannequins, which will allow students to get their feet wet in a health care and social assistance career pathway.
Mitchell said this is a chance for Frontier to explore additional programming for students seeking to expand their skills beyond Advanced Placement classes and other specialized courses.
“This is a more pragmatic course for students,” Mitchell explained. “It’s a little more boots-on-the-ground and will guide students to do more internships and get a sense of these careers.”
Additionally, the school is partnering with several local businesses and organizations through a grant-funded community outreach coordinator position, which will allow students to earn internships and get hands-on experience. Mitchell said Frontier has agreements in place with Baystate Franklin Medical Center, the Community Healthcare Center of Franklin County, Pelican Products and Alber Hearing Services.
“We’re hoping that (students) have a better sense of where they want to go after high school,” she said. “If they can get a chance to explore these career fields before they get out of high school, they have a better sense of” whether that career is the right choice for them.
While the grant itself is exciting, Mitchell said Frontier staff have been delighted by the number of students who have shown interest in the two new classes, so much so that they had to break it down into two sections.
“The big surprise, the big news for us is the amount of interest,” she said. “We had about 40 students sign up for each of those classes; we were worried we wouldn’t have enough enrollment. … That speaks to the need for this type of coursework.”
Frontier chose engineering and health care as the two pathways to explore because MassHire, the state’s employment network, identified those as the two most in-demand industries. Mitchell said Frontier has offered similar one-off programs in the past, but this is the first time the school is exploring “very specific” career pathways.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.
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