Eric M. Krise understands the significance of early career training programs, as owner of Salem County-based Eric M. Krise Electrical Contractor LLC. The success of his business depends on employing skilled workers who can provide electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling services across New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. That has motivated him to return to his alma mater, Salem County Vocational Technical School District, to moonlight as an electrical instructor.
In this role, Krise not only lends his expertise, but also inspires students as an example of a highly successful graduate of the SCVTS Class of ’98. Throughout February, which was Career and Technical Education Month, each of New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical schools highlighted alumni, like Krise, whose accomplishments demonstrate the value of CTE.
Jack Swain, SCVTS superintendent, long celebrated Krise’s entrepreneurship, but he now touts his abilities as an instructor.
Swain said Krise models industry standards and offers personalized instruction and feedback on each student’s projects. In fact, Swain estimated Krise puts in well over 14,000 steps per day on average, observing, monitoring and instructing his students.
“I would put our current electrical program against any electrical program in this state and beyond,” added Swain. “I am completely in awe of what Mr. Krise has done with his students and the program.”
Swain anticipates many of Krise’s students will be future candidates for a CTE Month spotlight, and Krise hopes some — if not all — will join his team.
Burlington County Institute of Technology also featured an alumnus who is thriving as a business owner. During CTE Month, the district shared the story of Richard Craven, a 2004 graduate, who displayed a will to succeed even before picking plumbing as a concentration. Using his parents’ phonebook, he called every plumber, carpenter and electrician listed and asked about hourly rates. When he learned plumbing charged the highest rates, he decided to pursue it.
Craven took advantage of each opportunity BCIT provided, expediting his journey to achieve his career goals. He became one of the youngest students to earn Master Plumber certification by participating in the work-study program. He spent hours outside of school as an apprentice, which enabled him to complete the apprenticeship program in half the time it takes most students.
“When I sat down to take the Master Plumber exam, the moderator said, ‘You’re in the wrong place,’ because I was younger than everyone else in the room,” Craven recalled.
Shortly after completing high school, Craven started his own business, Craven Plumbing in Maple Shade. A cancer diagnosis prompted him to hire another plumber, which gave him time for treatment and the opportunity to expand when he returned. Today, both he and his business are strong.
“A lot has happened to me, and I have always been a hard worker, but I learned all of the skills needed in the plumbing industry at BCIT,” he stated. “The instructors in all my classes, not just plumbing, were knowledgeable and provided guidance. The school-to-work program allowed me to apply what I was learning in the real world and accelerated my progress. I am profoundly grateful for my experience at BCIT.”
Some county vocational-technical schools recognized successful graduates who pursued post-secondary education before heading into the workforce. Such stories help depict the realities of the modern CTE experience, which prepares students for both college and careers.
Sreedevi Madappalli, a 2009 graduate of the Academy of Health Care Sciences at Morris County Vocational School District, entered high school knowing she wanted to take care of people for a living. She also knew many careers would match that desire. Her high school experience gave her not only a deeper look into health care occupations, but also the perspective that learning should include personal exploration and growth.
“Being at the academies was a huge reason why I went on to a liberal arts college and wanted to continue to develop as a well-rounded student,” Madappalli said.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Drew University and later obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Aspen University.
She became director of nursing for Sunrise Detox Center in Stirling for several years before transitioning to Atlantic Health System-Atlantic Medical Group in Morristown.
Madappalli credits MCVSD with teaching her how to first examine herself to overcome her own biases, to identify what it means to be an effective health care professional, and to be curious about people.
“MCVSD taught me the importance of taking a systems approach to everything, because everything really is always connected,” she added. “The academies were where I found my passion for the multidisciplinary approach, which is a cornerstone of my values and my nursing practice.”
From a physician who helps patients receive life-saving organs to a welder who builds houses and schools in Nepal, each county vocational-technical school alum featured during CTE Month has a compelling story of success. Visit careertechnj.org/news/ to read them all.