Mukilteo teacher learns ‘everybody does math’ at Boeing

By Bryan Corliss | Aug 07, 2013
Courtesy of: IAM 751 Mariner High School math teacher Beth Bergevin (foreground, left) takes part in a drilling demonstration at Boeing’s Everett factory. It was part of a two-week “externship” co-sponsored by the Machinists Union and Boeing to help Puget Sound teachers understand the kinds of math and science skills high school graduates need to work in the aerospace industry.

A Mukilteo School District math teacher said she learned something she didn’t expect during a two-week study program at the Boeing Co.

“Everybody does math here,” said Beth Bergevin, who teaches at Mariner High School. “That’s really exciting.”

Bergevin was one of eight teachers from around Puget Sound who took part in a two-week “externship” at Boeing in July.

This is the second year in a row that Boeing and Machinists Union District Lodge 751 have worked together to help local math and science teachers understand the kinds of skills high school graduates will need to work in the aerospace industry.

“If we’re going to recruit and train the next generation, it really has to start with the teachers in the schools,” said Grace Holland, a Machinists Union member who is an administrator with IAM/Boeing Joint Programs in Everett and one of the leaders of the effort.

Along with Bergevin from Mukilteo, there were teachers from the Edmonds, Everett, Highline, Marysville and Seattle school districts.

The teachers spent two weeks learning about how math and science skills are incorporated into daily work routines at Boeing, and spent time touring shops in both Renton and Everett, where they observed Machinists at work and took part in hands-on demonstrations.

They completed the session with a tour of the 747 final assembly line at Paine Field.

Bergevin said the externship was an eye-opening experience.

“I always thought that if you got a high school diploma and nothing else, you’d be stuck in a job, not a career,” she said. “But at Boeing, there are a lot of career paths for people who don’t have a four-year degree.”

Boeing and its suppliers need teachers like Bergevin to spread the word about the opportunities for careers in the industry, said Jesse Cote, a Machinists Union staff member who represents District Lodge 751 on the statewide Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee.

That’s why the union is so involved in workforce development, Cote told the teachers.

“Airlines are going to buy $4.8 trillion worth of airplanes over the next 20 years, and a significant chunk of them are going to be built in Everett and Renton,” he said.

“There is going to be work here – good-paying and interesting work – for a lot of your students for years to come.”

About District 751

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 33,000 working men and women at 49 employers across Washington, Oregon and California.

The union is committed to training Washington’s 21st century aerospace workers, with union officers serving as trustees of Cascadia and Green River community colleges, Renton Technical College and the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee.

-Edited by Beacon staff

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