NYC Public Schools

William E. Grady Vocational High School

Ever since Jeffrey Smalls graduated William E. Grady Vocational High School, he has always found time to return to visit the school that laid the foundation for his electrical expertise. Now as an award-winning employer, he remains active at his alma mater as Principal For The Day, and by speaking to the students as well as their parents, encouraging them to pursue careers in the construction industry.

“I was fortunate enough to have what most kids in our community don’t, which is great examples in my family of how much potential a career in the construction trades can offer. There is so much talent in our inner city public schools, but unfortunately many of them lack direction. It is important for me to do what I can in order to serve as an example for our inner city youth. What’s even more rewarding is making role models out of individuals that I have inspired.”

Each year Mr. Smalls speaks to every student who is currently enrolled in electrical trades throughout New York City explaining their career choice options.


Alfred E. Smith High School

Smalls Electrical has had a longstanding commitment to hiring electrical students from construction trade schools. Overall, we’ve hired about 10 graduates from such New York City schools for fulltime careers. As a graduate of a vocational high school, it was disturbing for Smalls’ CEO, Jeffrey Smalls, to learn that Alfred E. Smith High School (Smith) was on a list of 20 high schools to be phased out. With the help of his staff (some of whom are graduates of Smith) and other advocates, he took the lead in campaigning to save the hands-on trade instructions from being eliminated at Smith. Over 9,000 petition signatures and several rallies later, the team was successful in getting the Department of Education to stay on their decision to close the school. At present, a new school is being strategized based upon the combined proposals of Jeffrey Smalls, industry partnerships, and a new principal.  

The new school will be a career and technical education high school at the Smith campus, which is projected for opening in fall 2011. The curriculum will include plumbing, electrical, carpentry, pre-engineering, and HVAC. The objective is to have smaller class sizes to obtain balance not just in the ratio of students to teachers, but also to ensure that each student will receive the attention necessary to achieve academic excellence. We believe that everyone deserves a good start in life. Trade high schools give so many students an advantage, because upon graduation, they have useable skills that are readily transferable into meaningful work, which is a means to earning a good living.

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