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Andy Silvernail runs a manufacturing company in suburban Chicago that employs 7,000 people at 40 factories in 20 countries.
IDEX Corp., which makes products including the Hurst Jaws of Life and valves for agricultural sprayers, posted a net income of $411 million last year and is valued at $11.3 billion. Silvernail himself has been named one of the U.S.’s most powerful CEOs age 40 and under by Forbes Magazine and one of America’s top CEOs by Institutional Investor magazine.
Through it all, the 48-year-old graduate of Bucksport High School’s Class of 1989 has remained grateful to the teachers who saw his potential and nurtured it, he said.
They “were instrumental in laying the foundation for our lives,” said Silvernail, who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in government from Dartmouth College and a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
That’s why the Bucksport native and his wife, Bucksport High Class of 1991 graduate Shelby Silvernail, have pledged $250,000 to the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, programs.
The donation will aid all students at Bucksport High, which has an enrollment of 352 students from Bucksport, Orland, Prospect and Verona Island, RSU 25 Superintendent Jim Boothby said.
About $70,000 will buy the school a computer numerical control milling machine, a CNC router table and a CNC plasma table, devices that will help the students design and cut metal or wood in design, engineering and woodworking classes, high school Principal Josh Tripp said.
The school has also signed a three-year, $180,000 contract with Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance to supply an instructor to teach RSU 25 educators improved STEM teaching methods and to train two Bucksport teachers to become math coaches, Boothby said.
The CNC machines will help train 98 students in the school’s industrial arts, advanced woodworking, robotics and introductory and advanced engineering programs, including 38 at the Hancock County Technical Center in Ellsworth, Boothby said.
He called the Silvernails’ donation “a wonderful gift.”
“They approached us last fall and began discussions, saying that they would like to find a way of supporting our schools,” Boothby said Thursday. “That was near and dear to both of them. They see what we have done with our robotics and engineering programs at the high school and they really want to help.”
“So much work today is centered around STEM subjects and we want to help Bucksport students have the same opportunities to achieve their full potential as we did,” Andy Silvernail said in a statement.
The donations will help an already solid program to improve, Tripp said. Besides its computer-based architectural design class, the school has three 3D printers that students use to create tools and other machines, said Tripp, who helped add the engineering classes to the school’s programming in 2013.
“We feel so fortunate,” Tripp said. “We are hearing all the time that the jobs out there are in the industrial and manufacturing trades. We want the kids to be able to follow a career development path to match those opportunities.”
The donation will help the school design those paths, Tripp said.
Watch: NBA coach, Maine native Steve Clifford speaks to Bucksport High School