I was recently selected to attend Materials and Manufacturing Summer Teacher’s Institute, provided by Yale and Southern Connecticut State University. Thirty science teachers from various Connecticut schools were granted the honor of being chosen to take part in this institute. We were introduced to manufacturing in Connecticut, and materials science from Assa Alboy/Sargent, Bigelow Tea, Bridgeport Fittings, Chabaso Bakery, Leed-Himmel, the Lighting Quotient and Schwerdtle Stamp. Most of the owners of these companies spoke with us about his and her company’s history, gave us tours, discussed the manufacturing process and answered our questions.

I asked many owners and/or representatives an important question: Why does your company remain in Connecticut despite the high taxes? Their answers always included their commitment to Connecticut, their employees and their community. Kathy Saint, owner of Schwerdtle Stamp, gave us a presentation on her company’s 137-year-old history and described how her company continues to thrive in Connecticut through innovation. I heard over and over about how Connecticut’s high taxes and huge energy costs cause the price of their products to increase. Some educators wanted to know if future employees needed to have certain certifications, and the answers varied depending on the jobs. I am honored these companies extended this opportunity to us and provided some insight into what our students need to learn as professionals, in order to work in the manufacturing industry.

As educators, we had to ask the relevant question we wanted and needed to know for the benefit of our students: What skills are needed for students to work in Connecticut Manufacturing? Positions at these companies range from laborers and managers to engineers and executives. Every employee must have the ability to problem-solve, think critically, and complete math calculations using the Metric System and the U.S. Customary System. Each company’s presentation included employees using innovative technology and a CAD design program. We used this information to create new lessons, and to revisit our curriculum.

As a parent, I think about my 3-year-old daughter’s future education in Fairfield. In elementary school, it will be very important for her to learn and master those math skills. It will not be enough for her to memorize math multiplication tables or understand fractions — she must apply the math to fully master it. So, I am looking toward the future for my daughter, for future employment in Connecticut, for Fairfield and for education. Sustaining and improving Connecticut’s economy, innovation in our manufacturing, and teaching our students the necessary skills, will be the building blocks of the future for our children.

Trisha Pytko

Republican candidate

Fairfield Board of Education