Tag Archives: Mike Sansur

“Shopping” For Tech Ed

Back in the day, an out-of-the-way section of Staples High School was devoted to “shops”: automotive, electrical, metal, wood. Students — well, male students — learned practical skills there. Some learned trades.

Over time — following a national trend — enrollment decreased. Counselors steered students to more “academic” pursuits. The shops were converted to other uses. One remained; it was devoted to boat-building.

In the 17 years since Mike Sansur arrived at Staples from Ansonia High, he’s revamped the curriculum. With help from counselors and former principal John Dodig, he created courses that teach hands-on skills, while integrating STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) into his projects.

And it’s not just boys who flock to Sansur’s classes. His room is filled with girls. (A few doors down, the culinary kitchens — formerly “home ec” — attract plenty of guys. That’s another story.)

Junior Parker Pretty, in the tech ed. classroom.

Sansur’s goal in revamping the program (now known as “tech ed.”) was to encourage students to unearth talents, learn lifelong skills, and discover further courses of study or career paths.

One example: a mock-up of home electrical wiring. Students create and test AC/DC circuits, learn how circuit breakers work, and apply their knowledge to special projects.

Shane Lozyniak created especially complex circuitry — and earned a full scholarship for electrician training. He and a classmate wo worked with him are both now employed in a field they love.

In bridge engineering, students compete to research, design and construct a bridge that will hold the greatest amount of weight using the least amount of materials. Results are often “amazing,” Sansur says. Students will email him over the weekend with ideas. A number go on to engineering careers.

For those who are interested in architecture or construction management, Sansur offers this option: design and build a model house.

Architecture and construction management skills are part of the tech ed. curriculum.

Another favorite activity involves small engines. Students learn automotive technology — including the use of appropriate tools — by dismantling an engine, identifying every part and each function, rebuilding it and mounting it on a test stand. And, of course, getting it to work again.

Former students often tell Sansur how much tech ed. has meant. They ask to be guest speakers, describing their career paths. This month Hunter Duffy — about to graduate from college with an engineering degree — will visit.

Working collaboratively to solve tech ed. problems.

Yet whatever goes around, comes around. In the same room that was once the auto shop, Sansur is designing a unit covering basic automotive skills: jump starting a car, changing a flat tire, checking vital fluids, interpreting dashboard signs, and other important life skills.

But he’ll add lessons on the transformation underway in the automative industry, from fossil fuels toward electric cars.

That’s tech ed., 2022-style. For all his male — and female — students.

Freshman Isabella Baltierra gets in on the tech ed. ground floor. (Photos/Mike Sansur)

Shane Lozyniak Lights Up The Workforce

It’s not exactly stop-the-presses news: Westport is a town of high expectations.

Parents expect that their kids will go to college — the more prestigious, the better. Kids expect that they’ll spend time in high school polishing their transcripts and resumes.

Everyone expects the “college process” to be a stressful time. They’re right.

There seem to be few options for young Westporters who want a different path. Fortunately for Shane Lozyniak, he found his own.

His family has lived in Westport for generations. Shane went to Greens Farms Elementary School, Bedford Middle and then Staples High. From a young age he loved using his hands. Motors, old electronics — if he could mess around with them, he did.

At high school he was not involved in extracurricular activities. He did not have to be. He had Mike Sansur.

Shane Lozyniak wired this electrical panel in Mike Sansur’s class.

Shane had heard about the Technology Education class from his older brother. As a freshman, he took TechEd 1. Sansur’s course introduced him to things he’d never had a chance to do in school. He turned a lamp on a lathe, and built a shelf.

Shane took Sansur’s classes every year. During free periods and other extra time, he headed back to the lab.

When Shane’s school counselor, Christine Talerico, mentioned to her colleague  Victoria Capozzi that Shane looked her in the eye, and said he was not interested in a traditional 4-year college — he preferred something more hands-on — both women took note.

That’s rare at Staples. It’s also important, and refreshing.

Capozzi — who calls herself “a hands-on girl” — asked Shane to take the lead role in building a mobile cart. The department uses it around the school, as a “branch office.” It’s a hit with everyone.

Vicki Capozzi, Shane Lozyniak and the mobile cart he built for the school counselors.

Capozzi notes that she and her fellow counselors sometimes hear Staples graduates say they’re leaving college to pursue a trade, enter a certificate program or do other work.

“Having a kid like Shane know in advance of his desire to learn a trade and work is very refreshing,” she says.

(In fact, last week the guidance department held a post-secondary school planning meeting for parents of juniors. “We told them there are lots of pathways that don’t involve a 4-year college,” Capozzi says.)

Shane was particularly fascinated by electronics. It was “sparked” when Sansur — whose Tech Ed program caters to a diverse population of students and interests — introduced Shane’s class to electrical theory and schematics. They create and test a variety of circuits commonly found in homes.

The chance to work hard at something, then see it all come together — literally lighting up a room — was very satisfying.

Shane eagerly and adeptly turned electrical theories into reality. He designed and fabricated a steam generator that set a school record for greatest voltage produced.

He also tore down and rebuilt a small gas engine. He then used that knowledge to repair mowers that other students brought in.

Shane Lozyniak

For his senior internship, Shane spent a month with Yankee Electric. It was a way to see if that’s what he really wanted for a career.

It was. He liked the experience so much, near the end he asked about an apprenticeship. They were delighted to have him.

Several months into the 4-year process, Shane says he’s “really learning the basics of the trade. There are a lot of basics.”

At night, he’s taking a class at Lincoln Tech in Shelton. He’s been helped by a Mike Rowe Scholarship.

The Rowe Foundation’s mission is to “help close the skills gap by challenging the stigmas and stereotypes that discourage people from pursuing the millions of available jobs. We’re redefining the definition of a good education and a good job, because we don’t think a 4-year degree is the best path for the most people.”

Shane heard about the fund when a Lincoln Tech rep came to Staples. As part of the application process, he had to make a video.

“I’m not a big talker,” Shane says. But Capozzi convinced him to do it. He was chosen as one of 182 recipients nationwide.

The class he’s taking — after a full day of work — does not leave much time for anything else.

That’s fine with Shane. He’s pursuing something he loves.

In a town of high expectations, Shane Lozyniak is already well on the path to success.