The MiLL has its origins in the classroom teaching experiences of founder Dean Mattson in collaboration with Peyton School District Superintendent Tim Kistler and Widefield School District 3 Superintendent Scott Campbell.
The MiLL stands for “Manufacturing Industry Learning Lab”. We are located at the Peyton/Widefield Vocational Education Campus on 4450 Foreign Trade Zone Boulevard across from the Widefield School District’s Transportation Department.
In the fall of 2015, Peyton 23-JT Superintendent Tim Kistler hired Dean Mattson to teach state-of-the-art woodworking manufacturing classes. Mattson is a former professional cabinet maker who started a similar program at a high school in Oregon that was a huge success. The program became known as the Peyton Woods Manufacturing Program with a shop that includes more than $800,000 in loaned equipment from some of the industry’s biggest names.
Widefield School District Superintendent Scott Campbell was blown away by the potential of the program after attending an open house and jumped at the opportunity to get his students involved.
In the spring of 2016, Widefield sent 30 students to Peyton to be a part of the program. There are now 180 students from six school districts participating in our program daily.
The success of the program (in less than a year), prompted Mattson, Kistler and Campbell to create a partnership that will allow the program to expand in Southern Colorado.
The two school districts entered into a partnership through the Peyton/Widefield Vocational Education Campus, which houses a 46,000-square-foot building located south of the Colorado Springs Airport. Stiles Machinery, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., has committed a significant amount of equipment for woodworking students to use.
The Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America and the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association recently donated $25,000 to the MILL. We also have over 40 exclusive partners and are excited to build more relationships with those interested in giving students a career pathway and strengthening Colorado’s workforce.
WHY WAS THE MILL CREATED?
Five years later, his vision of a business-education partnership helped shape the Career Technical Education Center (CTEC) in the Salem/Keizer school district. Educational leaders throughout the nation asked Dean how they could teach his model in their schools.
In 2015, Mattson brought this model to Peyton, Colorado, where the Peyton school district took an abandoned middle school building and transformed it into a Woods Manufacturing Lab. Students and industry representatives began to see firsthand what a “state of the art” woods lab and curriculum could produce.
The MiLL was created to expand training classes to include Woods Manufacturing, Cabinet Finishing, and Construction for not only high school students, but also for colleges, military, and industry.
40+ industry partners have been united to provide the technology, machinery, tools and supplies to give students a world-class education.
It was so shocking that it inspired me to go far beyond my abilities as a teacher and to try to change a broken system. There is something very wrong about throwing away human beings.
It was a WOW moment for me.”
- Dean Mattson, in a speech to WMIA, 2014.