“My friends think I’m insane,” joked Sami, a junior at Burnt Hills High School, about being enrolled in the Heavy Equipment class at the F. Donald Myers Education Center.
For Samantha “Sami” Holmes being around heavy equipment is no big deal. “I’ve been around equipment all of my life. I’m used to it,” she explained. That’s because her dad owns Holmes Excavating in Ballston Lake. She decided to enroll in the Heavy Equipment class much to her dad’s delight because some day she’d like to take over her dad’s business.
“I’ve always wanted to drive trucks, dump trucks, and tractor-trailers,” said Sami. “I drive the biggest truck to school.”
As for the Career and Technical Education program, she commented, “It’s more hands-on than being stuck in a class all day. I like operating the loaders the best.” Plus, Sami admits it’s also an “outside thing,” preferring to be outside all day. In the future, Sami plans to continue her education and study business in college.
The Heavy Equipment class at the Myers Center is a very popular class. Sami is the only female in the morning class comprised of 40 students. “At first, I was a little worried about being the only girl in class, but I got used to it. They’re all nice,” smiled Sami.
One of her classmates, Nicholas Robson, a senior from Burnt Hills High School, said, “In the beginning it was different, but it’s good. She knows a lot for being a ‘girl’ in this industry.” He said he’d absolutely work for her.
Another classmate, Dan Plowinske, a senior from Scotia-Glenville High School, said, “It’s no different than working with a guy. She knows what she’s doing. She catches on quickly. I’d work for her. I’d hire her.”
The Heavy Equipment class at the Myers Center is team-taught by Greg Hammond and Ken Brooks. Mr. Hammond said, “I encourage young women to get involved, tell them about all the opportunities out there, and encourage them to bring someone they know with them. Sami already knew a lot coming into the program, but we’re teaching her the nuts and bolts of the industry. We’re finding more and more young women enrolling in class. The opportunities in the industry are huge! There are a lot of opportunities in this area with the farmers and the counties.”
Students in their second year, do internships through the Work-Based Learning- Internship Program. Internships provide another way to instill job competence by supplementing the classroom experience. For many students, these experiences help develop personal initiative, confidence, teamwork, positive attitudes, and professional behavior. It's these "soft skills" that often make the difference between job candidates of similar or equal training or experience.
Mr. Hammond explained, “We encourage students to look at internship sites that are the best fit for them. Possible internship sites include Pallette Stone Corp., Pompa Brothers Stone, D.A. Collins Companies, or Kubricky Construction. We also have students look into working with local municipalities. Town, Village and County Highway departments have been a great place for some of our students to get experience. Sami will be doing an internship next year. Sami will also have the opportunity to work with her family business, if she chooses that route as well.”
Click here for more information on the Heavy Equipment program.