Pruden Center leads the way in Hampton Roads

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 23, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

During the annual dinner meeting at the Pruden Center for Industry and Technology, the school’s principal, Peggy Wade, outlined some of the achievements that have been reached this year. She pointed to the fact that the Pruden Center has been granted a certification for automotive repair, which puts the school in the vanguard of secondary schools that are qualified to teach electronic techniques for maintaining today’s highly complex automobile engines. This gives participating students an enormous advantage in obtaining the high-paying jobs that are now available in the local job market.

The meeting that Wade hosted is used to make a report to the Joint Committee for Control, which oversees the operations of the Pruden Center for Isle of Wight County, Suffolk, and Smithfield. All accomplishments and shortfalls are discussed,

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Wade also spoke about the extensive partnering that the Pruden Center has developed with industry throughout the Hampton Roads area. Terri Grzybowski of the Hampton Roads Utility and Heavy Contractors Association represented one of those partners. She spoke of the quick response that her trade group had from the Center when her members complained several years ago about the lack of trained young people to operate heavy equipment. Within a few months, Wade coordinated the start of a new course at the school, which is now a model for other technical schools to follow, and is an integral part of an area-wide education program.

Corey McCray of the Pruden Center staff described how the Public Works departments of eight area cities (Franklin, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Newport News) got together and formed the Public Works Academy. Its purpose is to educate both high school students and employees in each of the cities in the many fields and skills required to operate a city Public Works department. He explained that Suffolk’s Pruden Center is the only school

(secondary or college level) in all of Hampton Roads that offers many of the courses that the PWA provides to its clients.

Don Lint, civil engineer II, with the city of Norfolk, added that the Pruden Center has &uot;the respect and admiration of all of Hampton Roads for its leadership in providing technical education that helps the participating cities in their efforts at retention of trained and skilled workers, while providing young people with outstanding career opportunities.&uot; Lint added that the Pruden Center was the catalyst for plans to create similar programs at Tidewater Community College and at Thomas Nelson University.

&uot;Pruden has the respect of industry from every corner of this area,&uot; Lint said.

Several awards and commendations were presented during the evening’s program. One of the most emotional was when Wade recognized retiring teacher Jerome Elam. He has taught bricklaying since he first went to work at the Pruden Center 28 years ago. That was the same year that Wade began her tenure.

Also on the program was a report on progress in reaching educational goals that were set a year ago by a volunteer, community task force. While most of the goals were either attained or nearly attained, Wade emphasized that there cannot be true success unless parents begin to recognize the value of a technical education, and encourage their children to try to excel in one of the many fields that it encompasses. &uot;Taking a course or a series of courses at the Pruden Center will be beneficial to high school students, whether they go to college or not,&uot; said Wade. She encourages parents to contact her and learn more about the ways that the Pruden Center can bring a successful, lifetime career to their children. She added, &uot;Academic education is part of the training that is indispensable to the well rounded education that we provide.&uot;