Neshobe School educates at Naylor & Breen


NESHOBE STUDENTS STAND inside the Brandon Library renovation site. Back row, left to right: Lani Heitman, Project manager Kim Levins, Superintendent Jason Wisell, Aubrey Mohan, Nick Savela. Front row, left to right: Lucas Lacy, Parker Dillon, Carter Frasier, Jacob Krans.

BRANDON–Last Friday, students from Neshobe Elementary School got a hard look at the construction industry through a mentorship program coordinated by Dean of Students Shauna Lee. The group toured the offices and shops of Naylor and Breen before heading out to a real job site. The excitement and interest was palpable as the students asked questions of industry professionals. They met with project managers and estimators and learned the basics of those jobs and asked some good questions:  “How complicated is your job?” and “Do you have fun at work?”

Neshobe’s 5th- and 6th-grade teachers selected a group of students for this mentorship program. They meet weekly as a group to focus on team building and developing leadership skills. They have met with their mentors, Tanner Romano, part-owner of Naylor and Breen, and Josh Letourneau, project manager at N&B, a total of 5 times since the fall. Romano and Letourneau volunteer their time at the elementary school they both attended and hope to demonstrate how interesting and diverse the construction industry is. These students have bonded and call themselves “The Naylor and Breen team.” At their lunchtime meetings, they discuss what it means to be a leader and how to work at team building. They toured Neshobe with their mentors and identified a few areas they thought could be improved, mainly in how the adults running the school could be better organized. One area they felt had a big need was in the storage of the physical-education supplies. They collaborated and came up with a napkin sketch and some measurements for a cabinet which could meet that need.

On a not-your-average field trip to Naylor and Breens offices on Route 7, they met with Kim Levins, project manager for the Brandon Free Public Library Renovation Project. Parker Dillon asked “What’s the hardest part of your job?” Levins revealed that it can be hard to step back and take a deep breath when facing crucial deadlines and important decisions. “I realize that it’s self-induced stress and if I slow down, things get done better, they get done right.” She related that she is a list person and that lists help her to prioritize the things that need to get done. “I don’t always finish my list, but I know that what I’ve done were the most important things to be completed that day.”

In Tanner Romano’s office, which he shares with Rob Naylor and spends the majority of his time in, the students noticed a sign about leadership. “The sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have but how many leaders you create.” It made an obvious impression on the group.

MILES KRANS EXPLAINS his position as Naylor & Breen’s Senior Estimator to the students. Krans is responsible for estimating the costs of the firm’s projects, a job that entails determining how much material will be required for each phase. Photo by George Fjeld

Estimator Miles Krans showed the students plans and reviewed how he turned the plans into a budget for the project. He pulled out a large blueprint of a project for affordable housing in Randolph. He went through the process of calculating the amount of concrete needed for the project and the way to estimate its cost. “I like when I’m done with estimating that I have checked every detail of the project and its costs.” “The most fun is when we sign a contract to do the work that I’ve budgeted”

They talked with Tom who meets with potential customers in the preconstruction phase of a project and Leo, another project manager, who admitted that communication was the hardest and most complicated part of his job. “But being able to work with everybody is the most fun,” he said.

FIFTH- AND SIXTH-GRADE students from Neshobe toured the ongoing renovation of the Brandon Free Public Library as part of their field trip to Naylor & Breen, which is supervising the work. Photo by George Fjeld

Moving across the parking lot, the students met with the folks at Hawk Hill Cabinetry and Custom Woodwork. Tim showed the students how he took the napkin sketch of a cabinet that they came up with and used CAD software to turn it into a plan for a bookshelf unit to store PE equipment in Neshobe School. The group then went into the shop and helped load sheets of plywood into the CNC machine to cut out the parts for the cabinet. The huge machine then expertly and exactly did the cutting in only a few minutes. The parts will be delivered to Neshobe School next week to be assembled on site by the students and their mentors.

Back on the bus, the students journeyed to downtown Brandon, where they met again with Kim Levins and project superintendent Jason Wisell. They had an in-depth tour of the Brandon Library project, where they witnessed electricians and plumbers as well as carpenters hard at work all over the building. Although the project has had some holdups, it is presently on schedule to finish in early June. Students saw the work of masons who restored old and collapsing brickwork. They saw the installed steel rods that support the second and third floors by hanging from the roof rafters. They got a look at the elevator shaft from the basement and the third floor and they were impressed. They watched the fire alarm system being installed. 

At the end of the tour, they loaded back onto the bus for the short trip back to Neshobe. Shauna Lee said the students are volunteering one day of their vacation next week to meet at school to assemble the cabinet they designed and helped build.

Mentor Josh Letourneau admitted that he wished he had a school field trip like this one while he was at Neshobe. Tanner Romano hopes that a few of these students will see the trades as a great place to work and earn a good living right here in our community. Gauging the students’ enthusiasm, he probably will see some of them in the future.

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