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Glen Mills Schools -- Printing for the Future

February 2004
BY Kristen E. Monte

Associate Editor

At first glance, Glen Mills Schools might be mistaken for a prestigious private school, with its gated entrance, steep hills and buildings dating as far back as 1826. It is not until you explore the campus that you realize this is a residential facility for troubled youth.

Glen Mills Schools, located in Concordville, PA, approximately 20 miles southwest of Philadelphia, is the oldest residential school for court-referred young men in the country. Founded in 1826, it is home to boys, ages 15 to 18, from all over the U.S. and several other countries.

The fundamental concept of the school is for the boys there to learn and grow to show a greater potential for their lives, while accepting some basic mandates: to change behavior from anti-social to pro-social, and to develop life skills that will help sustain this change.

At Glen Mills, the students focus on a heavy workload of academics and athletics. Since there are students from all walks of life, the curriculum is designed to teach at five different academic levels: from special education through college preparatory. Students are also involved in vocational studies—including the graphic arts—based upon vocational assessments, training and placement by the Vocational Education Department.

"The students at Glen Mills are always on the move; they are very busy," says Jim Chobany, vocational coordinator. "The more hands-on experience they have, the more they are going to learn, and it also keeps them constantly involved and less likely to lose their focus."

Students have a choice of 15 different areas, including journalism, optics, engineering, photography and radio broadcasting, to name a few. Those who will go on to the printing program begin with a computer program, Print 101, which teaches them the basics before they ever step foot in the shop. From this program, they learn basics about the presses, the industry, technology, desktop publishing and the way a plant floor is run. This aids the students in learning what to expect.

The Glen Mills print shop consists of two older single-color Multis (a 1650 and 1360), a platemaker, folders, as well as a two-color Ryobi 3302M, which was purchased by the school last February. The students also work on a hydraulic cutter, metal and silver plate burning and thermography. Once they get a feel for each part of the production process, they can choose a specific area.

"Most students gravitate toward the presses," says Jamie Pugliese, printing instructor. "And, once they have a grasp on all the areas, they are better able to trouble-shoot the production of a job."

It's all part of Glen Mills' mentoring approach to instill leadership qualities. According to Pugliese, the overall structure of the school allows all students to become prepared as leaders as they work in a tightly structured environment, but they also obtain the skills to work in any level of a print shop.

Learning by Doing

Advanced students are able to help Pugliese as a shop aide, where they can delegate work and offer assistance to other students, and run the presses with minimal supervision.

"We teach them the basic fundamental skills of printing," Pugliese explains. "Over the years, I've become increasingly aware of the critical differences that the 'fundamentals' make in successful students who become printing industry employees."

With three print classes per day and an average of 18 students per class, the program has the makings of a small print shop—and these young men are happy to work.

The print shop does all of the print work for the school and for the Glen Mills Golf Course, a nationally recognized public course on the school grounds. In addition to the in-house printing, about 40 percent of the work comes from outside customers, such as staff members, local businesses and community members.

Since the school is nonprofit, it cannot charge any more than the cost of the materials, making it a great deal for the local community and a great learning experience for the students. Many of the orders they receive are for business cards, letterhead, wedding invitations, tri-fold flyers, brochures, tickets, posters and signs.

It's the hands-on experience that sets the boys apart after leaving Glen Mills. Student Sanbeira Thlang is preparing to finish his program at Glen Mills sometime in January or February, and has already made connections with a printing company near his hometown. A native of Stockton, CA, Thlang recently earned a week-long home pass for good behavior. While home, he visited a nearby printer, where he was allowed to run a press by himself.

"It was very scary, but I really enjoyed doing it," says Thlang. "I would like to get a job there."

"Printing is something I will pursue," adds Kenneth Agnew, another Glen Mills student. "I like learning and helping people with the work I do."

Like any nonprofit organization, Glen Mills is always looking for donations in the form of either equipment, supplies or learning materials. Those interested in helping the program can call Pugliese at (610) 459-8100, ext. 317, or e-mail

At the top of Pugliese's wish list is an A.B.Dick Digital Platemaster computer-to-plate machine to complement the Ryobi press. "There are so many imagesetters on the market featuring the newest technology," says Pugliese. "Our students need to be better equipped when they go out in the job market."

Pugliese and his students aren't picky—any donation is always greatly appreciated. Glen Mills also pays for all of its supplies with the money allotted to the department, trying to stretch every dollar.

"A hands-on approach is a great way for the students to learn," adds Chobany. "It's amazing how fast they take to the machinery and computers. It really prepares them for when they get into the job market."


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