“This real world experience is something I can’t simulate in a shop,” said Clark.
Clark himself works in the industry during the summers as well. Sometimes he even works for his former students.
A 1999 program graduate, Ron Forde, manager at Advanced Services, Bensalem Pa., knows it takes a lot of time to train someone with no experience. “The program really helps with that,” Forde said. He remembers touring the high school technical shops as a freshman, and when they reached the vending shop and opened a machine, Forde was hooked. “I fell in love with it and have been doing it ever since,” he said. He praised Jim Clark for being a positive mentor and really creating a program with excellent job placement.
GRADUATES PASS ALONG JOBS
Bernard Clark (no relation to the instructor Jim Clark), dispatch manager, Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Philadelphia, Pa., graduated in 1998. “I think it’s the best trade program at the high school now and most successful,” he said. He knows graduates from other school programs unable to find jobs in their industries.
Bernard Clark got a job at Coca-Cola immediately after graduating. He’s been working his way up the company for 10 years now, and has even started attending college courses. “More than likely I’ll stay in vending,” he said. “I’m enrolled at college now, getting a bachelor’s degree in business. Who knows what the future will bring.”
Because he knows the unbeatable training provided to students of the program, Bernard Clark has gone to Jim Clark when he needs staff. “There are seven past grads working at Coca-Cola right now,” he said. “The way Jim Clark designed it, it is a great program.”
SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPPORT
“The Edison Fareira vending machine repair program is the only one of its kind in the country,” said Brenda Taylor, deputy superintendent of specialized instructional services for the school district of Philadelphia.” It’s a very positive program for the area, because the students are coming out ready for the work force, with accreditation. Taylor’s even had the opportunity to experience the program first hand, as she was once assistant principal at Edison Fareira High School.
Unfortunately, Philadelphia boasts the last program like this. There used to be more schools, but since the 1970s, their numbers have dwindled. Jim Clark’s biggest regret is that these programs are disappearing. “If the (vending technician) program works in this area, and it does,” said Clark, “why isn’t there one in Chicago or L.A. or anywhere the industry needs people?”