Some people know from childhood, exactly what they want to “be” when they grow up, but for many students it’s not that simple. That was the case for Ware High School 2017 graduate Seth Bordeau, until he took an introduction to Fire Science elective class offered at the high school and taught by Ware Fire Department Deputy Chief, Edward Wloch.
Deputy Chief Wloch joins Dr. Marlene DiLeo, Ware Superintendent of Schools, and area business partners including Michael Moran, president and chief administrative officer of Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital, in supporting the new classroom initiative and the concept known as Project Based Learning.
“One of the most promising trends in education today is Project Based Learning, which allows students to experience the experience,” said Dr. DiLeo. “In 2018, Ware High school has added a Criminal Justice class and will add a Certified Nursing Assistant course in the 2019/20 school year. Providing students the hands on opportunity along with the academic aspect of any course has a lasting impact on student learning.”
“I was less than enthusiastic, but slightly interested in the fire science class,” said Bordeau. “But after every class, I found myself more and more excited for the next. The subject of emergency services was fascinating and as the yearlong course was coming to an end and graduation grew closer, I knew I’d miss this class the most. I also knew that I wanted to pursue this career.”
Fortunately for Bordeau and fellow Ware High Fire Science students, the elective led to an opportunity to take an EMT-B class at the Holyoke Community College satellite located at the Education to Employment (E2E) site on Main Street in Ware. He and fellow Ware High students who finished the high school elective are now planning their career in Fire Science and Emergency Medicine.
“Health starts in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities,” said Moran. He and the Baystate Wing Hospital Corporation provided a matching grant of $640 that covered half the tuition and text books for the EMT course for each of the students who completed the elective and enrolled in the EMT class in Ware.
“I signed up for the EMT course almost immediately and didn't think twice about my decision,” said Bordeau. “The EMT course ran from June to August, the whole summer and looking back, I wouldn't have wanted the summer to be any different. I have completed the practical exam and passed, and I am now onto taking my written exam. Once that is completed, I have been offered a position as an EMT for the town of West Brookfield. I hope to further my career by looking into Paramedic school,” added Bordeau.
Bordeau is joined by Valentina Towne, Morgan Orszulak, Joe Gagnon, Felicity Dineen and Jordan Trzpit, all fellow Ware High students who tell success stories about how the project based learning elective sparked an interest that led them to a career in Fire Science, Emergency Medicine, college and employment opportunities.
In addition to supporting the local educational effort, the Baystate Wing Corporation and the Mary Lane Medical Staff have provided $90,000 in funding to the Quaboag Connector, the area’s local transportation initiative. “The consequences of the lack of transportation and unemployment elevate the importance to invest in these local initiatives. Both provide good options for our young people,” said Moran. “Baystate Health is strongly committed to the many communities in our region and will continue to work with our community partners to focus and grow programs and initiatives that promote wellness, education and workforce development, and improve access to care.”
The work of this team and its success doesn’t end in Ware, Deputy Chief Wloch and Dr. DiLeo have been invited to meet with leaders from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services in Stow, Massachusetts to discuss ways to replicate the high school’s Fire Science and EMS training model for students throughout the state.