Business Partners, Hartford-Area Educators, Alumni, and Supporters Gather Virtually with NAF and ReadyCT to Partner for Success

Courtney Savoia
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June 7, 2021

This spring, business partners, Hartford-area educators, alumni, and other supporters gathered virtually with NAF and ReadyCT for a regional event focused on Partnering for Success.

“The Partnering For Success event was driven by business, civic, and education leaders sharing their expertise in pursuit of launching and expanding cross-sector partnerships that will provide students with relevant and exciting learning opportunities,” said Shannon Marimon, executive director of ReadyCT, a K-12 education nonprofit now supporting career-themed pathways in Hartford-area high schools based on the NAF educational design. “There is near universal agreement that the NAF educational design has impact, and we were happy to have NAF experts in attendance, as well as attendees unfamiliar with NAF but interested in how to effectively design and implement a NAF career pathway.”   

The phenomenal industry panel, with representation from Pratt & Whitney, Travelers, KPMG, American Eagle, OKAY Industries, and HRA, provided important insights and helped generate conversations around expanding partnerships for the benefit of students and the future talent pipelines.

Below are remarks from the panel about how to support students on their NAF journeys. Dave Smith, Director of Aftermarket Operations, N.A. & Turkey, Pratt & Whitney, served as the moderator.

Jason Howey, OKAY Industries: “We need the right workforce in order to grow. It’s a combination of the soft skills — such as time management, being able to have courageous conversations, teamwork, etc. — with the work-based learning skills, that helps to develop talent.”

Jocelyn Denalsky, KPMG: “The NAF Future Ready Lab is a great opportunity for both students and employers to learn from each other.”

Marlo Greponne, HRA: “The NAF educational design provides a structure to see the continuum through from beginning to end and set the pathway for success. It’s also important to engage the families of students to help them understand the value of NAF. Success starts at home.”

Dean Marchessault, American Eagle: “Our connection point with schools, businesses, and industry, is crucial and students need to have access to that baseline to grow. The role of the advisory boards to nurture these business connections is also critical and helps ensure that these professionals have exposure to NAF academies, in order to create future opportunities.”

Dave Smith, Director of Aftermarket Operations, N.A. & Turkey, Pratt & Whitney, Moderator: “We need the talent pipeline to be rich and need to build an ecosystem that supports students.”

Alex Martinez, Travelers: “As an alumnus of Pathways, it’s important to engage with my former academy and offer my perspective. Industry engagement in schools is key to preparing students for the future and making the leap into the future workforce. It helps students to understand what is possible and how we can support them in college and career. I get a lot of energy from being a mentor to students.”

Local superintendents also shared inspiring words:

Nathan Quesnel, Superintendent, East Hartford Public Schools: “In East Hartford, we are proud of our NAF academy. It’s about outcomes for students and making connections to opportunities.”

Nancy Sarra, Superintendent, Consolidated School District of New Britain: “Thank you to our community partners and businesses. The NAF educational design is a pathway beyond high school for our children. They have a leg up and have the chance to establish those corporate relationships early on.”

Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent, Hartford Public Schools, “An important strategy for us is to support the transition from high school to college to career. We also need our partners to augment the opportunities and ensure equity and access for all students.”

Attendees also had time for networking and a special work session, where they discussed ideas around work-based learning – including best practices and strategies for engaging partners. This input will continue to be used to inform workshops/events in the future, and will aim to maintain a dynamic, ongoing community of practice.  

Click here to check out event highlights, including video, the panel discussion, and a student slide show spotlighting work-based learning.

View Bio

Courtney Savoia is the Assistant Director of Communications at NAF. She’s passionate about sharing the stories of our network and elevating their voices. Courtney writes about a variety of NAF and partner experiences, as well as lessons learned, and also conducts student, partner, and educator interviews about their journeys, for our audiences to take inspiration from.

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