Elbert honored with Partner in Education Award
At the Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce awards banquet on Feb. 22, ARE Manufacturing President Alvin Elbert was presented with the "Partner in Education" award for his volunteer work with Tiger Manufacturing. The student-run machine shop at Newberg High has grown significantly over the past year and provided students with the opportunity to learn the trade.
"It was an honor to get the award," Elbert said. "We've done a lot at the school and it's a major commitment. It's not just me – there's a lot of people at ARE who put in a lot of time to make this work, and it's all for the kids."
Elbert was among three award-winners that night: Newberg High senior Quentin Comus was named Junior Citizen of the Year and Newberg Education Foundation President Kristen Stoller received the honor of Citizen of the Year.
Between his work at ARE Manufacturing, Elbert has been in the workshop with Newberg High students since last spring, helping them develop and run Tiger Manufacturing. The number of students has tripled from four to 12 in that time, and some students have made decisions on their career paths based on their experience in the program.
"Being able to take the machining business to the high school, it's created even more opportunities," Elbert said. "Now there are 12 kids in the program that get opportunities in machining and manufacturing. It's not a well-publicized career path, but it can be pretty decent wages and really satisfying."
Last summer, five local students interned at ARE, along with four college students. Elbert said the company takes pride in bringing on young interns with an interest in machining, manufacturing or engineering, and that Tiger Manufacturing is an extension of that.
Machining and manufacturing are fields with myriad job opportunities. Allowing the kids in Tiger Manufacturing to create their own experience and discover their interests is how Elbert has found success in teaching what he knows.
"I believe that the kids have to do the work," he said. "I might be there every class, but I'm in the background just providing guidance. I let them think through the whole process."
During his speech at the awards banquet, Elbert brought senior Hadley Massey – president of Tiger Manufacturing – to the podium to speak about her experience. According to Elbert, the program helped her decide that she wanted to work in engineering and has led to "invaluable" professional opportunities – some with ARE itself.
Massey worked part-time with ARE during the summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school. That experience was "life-changing" for her, Elbert said, and she isn't alone in having developed a professional interest thanks to the program.
"When I started with her, she wasn't sure what field she wanted to go into," Elbert said. "Now, she's definitely sure that she wants to do engineering, so the opportunity definitely shaped her career path. For me, that's what we're after with all this. That's what it's all about."