Two Massachusetts vocational technical schools will share the 2023 John Gould Award from Associated Industries of Massachusetts

Friends of Vocational Technical & Agricultural Education,

We are pleased to share the news that Two Massachusetts vocational technical schools will share the 2023 John Gould Award from Associated Industries of Massachusetts. Both schools have transformed themselves into models of educational excellence and economic relevance.

Massachusetts vocational technical & agricultural high schools represent an essential resource for a state that seeks to solidify its role as a global center of innovation, commerce, and technology.

MAVA extends its congratulations to Worcester Technical High School and Roger L. Putnam Vocational Academy in Springfield.


Worcester Tech, Putnam Academy Win Gould Award

Worcester Technical High School and Roger L. Putnam Vocational Academy in Springfield are being honored for remaking what were once underperforming schools with high dropout number and low graduation rates into two of the best vocational institutions in the country. Housed in state-of-the-art facilities built with support from the business community, Worcester Tech and Putnam Vocation now feature a strong emphasis on academics and produce students who join the local labor force with employable skills and high academic achievement.

“Worcester Technical High School of Putman Vocational Academy provide compelling success stories as they create educational and economic opportunities in two of the commonwealth’s most important urban areas,” said John Regan, President, and Chief Executive Officer at AIM.

“These success stories are being forged against the backdrop of dire workforce challenges looming over the Massachusetts. The demographic and COVID-related changes that have left employers gasping for workers underscore the importance of the outstanding work being done by the teachers and students at these two schools.

The John Gould Education and Workforce Training Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and to the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the Commonwealth. In 2000, the award was named after the late John Gould, upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, to recognize his work to improve the quality of public education and workforce training in Massachusetts.

The renaissance of Worcester Technical High school and Putnam Vocational Academy exemplifies the emergence of the Massachusetts vocation technical system into a national model. Vocational high schools represent an essential resource for a state that seeks to solidify its role as a global center of innovation, commerce, and technology.

Both schools were among the lowest performing vocational-technical schools in Massachusetts during the early 2000s, despite statewide improvements in vocational education following passage of the Education Reform Act of 1993. The institutions operated in aging buildings with inadequate shops spaces and saw large numbers of students who failed to graduate or left school early.

Determined efforts by new principals, school committees, faculty, students, davand the business community had turned both schools around by 2012. A renewed determination to meld academic rigor with job skills raised test scores and lowered dropout rates. Both schools have joined the long list of voc-tech schools across Massachusetts that have more applicants than available seats.

A recent white paper on the two schools by The Pioneer Institute noted that the turnarounds involved initiatives on many levels. “In both Worcester and Springfield, turnaround efforts involved new leadership, gaining fresh perspective, changing perceptions, and building support in the business community. New principals were instrumental in moving beyond outdated and inaccurate public perceptions of urban voc-tech schools as “dumping grounds” for students who were thought to be less capable than their peers in so-called comprehensive high schools.

“School staff sharpened their focus on the key relationship between academics and vocational skills. Each school implemented new programs that focused on improving test scores, empowering staff, and increasing pride in the school.” Worcester Tech and Putnam Academy have both earned regional and national recognition for their transformations.

Worcester Tech received a coveted Blue Ribbon Award from the federal Department of Education. President Barack Obama gave the commencement address in 2014 and said he wanted the nation “to learn from Worcester Tech.” Putnam Academy received praise from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges citing the school’s reorganization and commitment to fiscal integrity.

“The Gould Award is really a tribute to the students, faculty and administrators who have made Putnam a school of choice during the past decade. We take seriously the role that Putnam plays in supporting the economy of both Greater Springfield and the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said George Johnson, Principal of Putnam Vocational Technical Academy. Drew Weymouth, Principal of Worcester Tech, said the school’s success is a testament to the vision of educators and business leaders who worked together to ensure that a well-funded institution would meet the needs of the economy for well-trained and well-prepared people.

“The doors to our new school and to a new era of vocational-technical education in Worcester opened in 2006. Business and industry raised $3 million to help finance the new building and donated new equipment and materials. City officials and political leaders negotiated for state and local funds. Parents and education officials knew that the quality of education at the school would improve,” Weymouth said.

Past recipients of the Gould Award include the late Jack Rennie, Chairman and Founder of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education; Middlesex Community College; Gordon Lankton, President and CEO (retired), NYPRO Inc.; William Edgerly, Chairman Emeritus, State Street Corporation; Northeastern University; The Davis Family Foundation; Intel Massachusetts; EMC Corporation; IBM; David Driscoll Commissioner (Retired) Massachusetts Department of Education; State Street Corporation and Year UP Boston; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership; Brockton High School; the Manufacturing Advancement Center – MACWIC Program; Christo Rey Boston High School; CVS and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission; Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, SnapChef, The Base and Pioneer Valley Books.

“Worcester Technical High School is now highly sought out by students seeking high-quality, hands-on learning experiences to become successful in the careers of their choice. Congratulations to the school leaders, teachers, and staff who work tirelessly to benefit our scholars.”

David J. Ferreira

MAVACommunications Coordinator