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About Us - History
The History of the New England Laborers’/Cranston Public Schools
Armand E. Sabitoni, General Secretary-Treasurer Catherine Ciarlo, Superintendent
Two leaders within their respective industry shared one common vision: create a unique school whereby the academic and technological needs of students who are specifically interested in the field of construction are educated. Using heavy and highway construction as the foundation of a problem-based learning curriculum, the city of Cranston welcomed its third public high school, the New England Laborers’/Cranston Public Schools Construction Career Academy in 2002.
With Ciarlo’s expertise in child-centered education and Sabitoni’s expertise in labor training, together they founded the union's first construction charter school for high school students. The school’s mission is to give these students a solid high school education with the opportunity to gain hours in an approved apprenticeship pathway. Thus, the curriculum teaches students about the construction industry and opens the door to job opportunities upon graduation. The Academy is the first and only high school in the United States and Canada that provides this opportunity to students interested in the field of construction.
Moreover, making the transition from school to work is often a difficult road for many high school graduates. Thus in 2004, the World of Work Exploration pathway was incorporated into the curriculum. World of Work is a comprehensive career exploration course offered to all students. Key components students learn are: the development of a career plan, job attainment skills, job retention skills and development of life skills. Thereafter, students refine those skills by gaining part-time employment under the guidance and mentorship of the World of Work Coordinator. By imparting the importance of lifelong learning, the curriculum of education and training imbedded in the World of Work Exploration pathway is essential in all phases of a career so to keep up with new technology, materials, and techniques.
Since The Academy’s inception, accolades from Rhode Island heavy and highway construction companies and private businesses have been received regarding the success of the school. A most recent statement from the United States Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration in its current newsletter is one of the best descriptions of the Academy’s progress. “In this day and age, when so many people have good reason to complain about the generation of students graduating high school who can’t count back change, can’t fathom how to control their spending and have no work ethic, The New England Laborers’/Cranston Public Schools Construction Career Academy is working hard to graduate a whole new type of senior: one who is head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to being out in the workforce.”
Charting our course today is Michael A. Traficante, Chairperson of the Board of Directors and Dennis M. Curran, Executive Director. Mr. Traficante brings 20 years as an educator, 14 years as Mayor of the City of Cranston, five years on the Cranston School Committee - three years serving as Chairperson, and seven years as Chairman of the NEL/CPS Board of Directors. For thirty years Mr. Curran has devoted his professional career to public education, garnering a distinguished reputation as a leader and compassionate facilitator. He began as a Social Studies Teacher in the Connecticut Public School system and worked his way through the ranks to become an Assistant Principal at Stonington High School. He also served as principal of both Mystic Middle School and Clark Lane Middle School, until his administrative tenure in the Westerly Public School District. Mr. Curran was also a proud 32 year member of the Laborers' International Union of North America, New England Region, working with Local Union 547 in New London, Connecticut during high school, college and his early career as a teacher.