PLATTSBURGH — A program being offered in Clinton County schools aims to develop a stronger student interest in math and science courses.Learn to Earn is funded by The Development Corporation, said Vice President Victoria Zinser Johnson, and is offered in schools throughout Clinton County.This is the 11th year the corporation has offered the program."Strong math and science skills are absolutely crucial in getting jobs with many of the employers in Clinton County," Zinser said."Our goal in facilitating Learn to Earn is to demonstrate through real-world examples — the experience of local business people — how those skills can translate into compelling and rewarding careers."
Internet Product Manager Frank Koniszewski and Network Engineer J.R. Davenport from Primelink made presentations this week to Beekmantown Middle School classes."Believe it or not, there is actually a use for math that is entertaining. It is the Internet," Koniszewski said.He asked for a volunteer to set up Voice Over Internet Protocol phone service and Internet service using a laptop computer and router, and guided student Holly Paolicelli through the process.The idea was to show the students that something they use every day — the computer they use for Web browsing and instant messaging — is totally based on math, Koniszewski said."We showed them the mathematical computations in the background that take them to a Web site," he said.After class, Paolicelli said the presentation had been interesting, mainly because her father does the same type of work."He's a network engineer at TwinState," she said.Asked if she is interested in math, Paolicelli said yes, but that she's not great at it. She would like to be involved in film editing once she's done with school.Koniszewski told the students he really enjoys his exciting work. He said the money's good too, noting his position has a starting salary of $40,000 a year."In sales or technical sales, you can make more than $100,000," Koniszewski said.Beekmantown Middle School Counselor Christine Tedford said the program has been going well during the four years she has been at the school. She said the students seem to enjoy the presentations, which she plans to continue."They like the hands-on things they get to do," Tedford said. "It shows kids why they need math and science. It shows what they can do with a math background."
Earlier this week, Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator Lee Ann Pray and Amanda Shannon from Schonbek Worldwide Lighting made a presentation to classes at Northeastern Clinton Central School.Pray, in her sixth year with the program, said they brought bags filled with pieces of a chandelier and had students assemble them using a blueprint.Math is an important part of the work at Schonbek, she said."On the production floor, we use math all the time. Blueprints are full of math."They also had students solve a problem."We had them pretend to be an engineer and figure out how many amps were needed for a certain fixture," Pray said. "It's very rewarding to go into a school and see the students excel."
The presentations are intended to stress the importance of taking advanced math and science courses, show students what local businesses and opportunities are out there and show them that careers with those companies are attainable and desirable.Other participating companies include Bombardier Transportation, WPTZ, CVPH Medical Center, Exelon Power Labs, Salerno Plastics, Composite Factory and Fox 44.Johnson said it's great the companies are willing to allow their staff time to make the presentations."We get such amazing participation from our company volunteers. I think they really understand how important it is to give back to the community in this way."After all, they're grooming their future workforce."