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Smith aims to put MCHS 'on the map'

Teacher Mark Smith gave a presentation to the Morris Community High School District 101 board on how he plans to put the school's Industrial Technology program on the map.

"I do intend to put Morris high school on the map in a way you haven't been before. ... I know what the industry wants and what they are screaming for," he said.

Smith gave his presentation during the board's regular board meeting Monday. He shared steps on how he plans to build the program.

One of the initial steps is to build a school-based enterprise to generate funds for the program that needs high-tech equipment, tools and materials, he said. At a previous school he worked at, the class was able to build kitchen cabinets for a family trying to sell their home. They also teamed up with a company to make wood sunglasses that became very popular and were worn by celebrities.

Through the school-based enterprise there they raised more than $50,000 in five years, he said. The enterprise reinforced the lessons of personal management, advanced manufacturing skills, pre-engineering skills and work place competencies.

Another way to help build the program is to arrange internships, said Smith. He said he has already received contact from local and national companies looking for when his students would be available to work. These opportunities would be generally for students getting ready to start their senior year.

Smith also plans to start a summer internship program at the school where students would work on repairs for the school so the district would not have to pay someone to do the repairs. At a previous school he did this at, students constructed computer desks for teachers and students so the district did not have to purchase desks.

He also plans to start taking students to trade shows to build their skills in speaking with members of the industry and to thank the supporters of the school's program.

Smith was just hired in July and has even more plans in the works.

"I can't believe this is going on here. You're even better than I thought you were," said board member Karen Meucci. "It sounds like your vision is going to move us light years ahead."

Meucci asked if through Smith's work to get the students industrial technology internships, if there would be opportunities to talk with the companies about other types of internships for students. Smith said his goal is for industrial technology internships, but eventually there could be some overflow into other departments.

Superintendent Dr. Pat Halloran told the board that Smith would also be coordinating with the Grundy Area Vocational Center with his ideas.

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