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Haley & Aldrich and Partners Develop Curriculum for Dearborn STEM Academy Students

Jesse Siegel
Jesse Siegel
BURLINGTON, MA — In celebration of National STEM Day, Boston Plan for Excellence (BPE), which operates two Boston public schools forming a Pre K-12 STEM pathway for Roxbury’s Dudley neighborhood, along with Haley & Aldrich’s team of environmental and geotechnical engineers, Suffolk Construction, and Millennium Partners Boston, the developer behind Boston’s mixed-use tower Winthrop Center, announce an initiative designed to give Boston Public School students opportunities in engineering and construction and help them build life-long careers.

Building upon a speaker series and internship program designed as part of an engineering pathway for Dearborn STEM Academy students, the initiative entails an inside look into the design, development, and construction of Winthrop Center, so students might see a real-life case study and meet professionals in the field.

“Our career pathways program at Dearborn STEM Academy equips Boston Public School graduates with the confidence and skills they need to compete for STEM and STEM adjacent jobs,” said BPE’s Director of External Relations, Mardi Fuller. “We introduce students early on to what a career as an architect, engineer, or in the construction trades might look like, and facilitate job shadowing with professionals who open students’ eyes to possibilities they may not imagine for themselves.”

Collaborating with partners such as Haley & Aldrich, Suffolk Construction, and Millennium Partners Boston, Dearborn STEM Academy provides students with direct access to 21st century learning, delivering authentic real-world tasks and hands-on learning experiences so students can visualize a future career path and determine the next steps forward.

One student, Jonathan Vernet, an 18-year-old college freshman who graduated from Dearborn STEM Academy and went on to earn a full scholarship to one of the top schools in Boston for construction, Wentworth Institute of Technology, discovered he wanted to pursue construction management after hearing a guest speaker from one of Dearborn STEM Academy’s industry partners, Haley & Aldrich.

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“Before I sat in on the presentation by the Senior Engineer from Haley & Aldrich, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do, and I was not considering college,” Vernet said. “When I heard the speaker describe her role in the industry, I felt curiosity, excitement, and was driven toward that path. I am the first person in my family to attend college and look forward to a successful career after Wentworth.”

Following the speaker series, Vernet secured an internship at Haley & Aldrich in his senior year of high school and shadowed professionals at the firm. The behind-the-scenes learning experience informed his desire to attend a university with a strong construction management program. At Wentworth, where Vernet is the recipient of a Boston Residency Scholarship, he will have the opportunity to sharpen his focus in construction management and take advantage of networking opportunities.

One of the driving forces behind this program is Corey J. Allen, Trade Partner Diversity and Community Outreach Officer at Suffolk Construction. A former Boston public school teacher, Allen realized facilitating connections between students and industry professionals is essential, both to give graduates a better sense of how to build meaningful, long-lasting careers and to help them develop the relationships they need to thrive in a particular industry.

“I was eager for the opportunity to help develop curriculum for Dearborn STEM Academy’s engineering career pathway,” Allen said. “It’s inspiring to witness the journey when students begin with inclinations toward math or science and have loosely defined goals after high school, for when they leave Dearborn, they are equipped to pursue a career track successfully and have relationships to help guide them along the way.”

Working with Millennium Partners Boston, which is developing Winthrop Center, the 691-foot mixed-use tower designed by Handel Architects and created in collaboration with MIT professors, Allen is helping to create curriculum for Dearborn STEM Academy juniors and seniors who will learn about the building’s advanced design and construction and meet individuals in the trades.

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“It’s incredible to recall that this collaboration began two years ago at the Winthrop Center project site when Corey simply asked me if I knew a lot about rocks,” said Senior Project Manager and Geotechnical Engineer at Haley & Aldrich, Jesse Siegel. “Since that time, we’ve learned that when industry and high schools work together, there is a tremendous opportunity to inspire students to learn more about STEM. We are hopeful that this effort may spark other companies across the country to explore new ways to create a more diverse and equitable real estate and construction workforce.”

Kathy MacNeil, a Principal leading construction and design implementation for Millennium Partners Boston, will help oversee the students’ comprehensive immersion through the program. In addition to visiting the project — which is currently under construction and slated for completion at the end of 2022 — Dearborn STEM Academy students will hear perspectives from the developer, an architect from Handel Architects, and structural, geotechnical, environmental, and civil engineers.

Setting a new benchmark for energy efficient design, Winthrop Center is slated to become the largest office building in the world to seek Passive House certification and may use up to 65 percent less energy than the average office building in Boston. Dearborn STEM Academy students will get an inside look into the process of designing and developing a building to the Passive House building standard, in addition to following Winthrop Center’s construction progress through site visits.

“Millennium Partners Boston is committed to creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable real estate and construction industry, and we are honored to help develop this unique and innovative STEM educational opportunity for students in Boston Public Schools,” MacNeil said. “More doors must open for a new generation to help us shape the built environment of the future, and our goal with this program is to inspire the talented young people in our community to consider a career that could one day bring them to work on a site like Winthrop Center.”

BPE operates two Boston public schools: Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School and Dearborn STEM Academy, which form a PreK-12 STEM pathway for the Dudley neighborhood of Roxbury. BPE also runs Boston Teacher Residency, a clinical model for preparing teachers for the Boston Public Schools.

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Dearborn STEM Academy is an innovation pathway school whose STEM career pathways model closes achievement and opportunity gaps and ensures that all students, especially those underrepresented in college and high skill, high demand careers, will have clear opportunities for success. The program provides students with access to STEM education aligned to industry skills and standards, matched with Early College and internship experiences that will help students transfer learned classroom skills into authentic college and career experiences.

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