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P-TECH presentation

POSTED 2/28/2014
OESJ board to hear P-TECH overview
HFM BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Patrick Michel will introduce the new Pathways in Technology Early College High School (or P-TECH) and the program’s Chief Learning Officer, Michael Dardaris, to the OESJ Board of Education at a special meeting at 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 4 at the OESJ Middle School. Dardaris will explain the “what” and “why” of a P-TECH school, and the benefits it brings to the HFM region. [Read more...]

The program is imagining a new model for high school education, one that doesn’t focus on getting students ready for college but actually includes college-level, credit-bearing coursework in the curriculum. Funded by a seven-year $2.4 million state grant, area education and business leaders are moving full speed ahead to ready the P-TECH program for a September start.

The P-TECH Early College High School will offer a select group of area students the opportunity to complete high school and earn a free associate’s degree, then place them first in line for jobs with participating companies when they graduate.

The curriculum being developed for HFM P-TECH centers on project-based learning that will prepare students for jobs in four career clusters—business management and administration, advanced manufacturing and clean technology, information technology and health sciences—offering 11 possible associates’ degrees.

A consortium of HFM BOCES, its component school districts, Fulton-Montgomery Community College and 14 regional businesses was one of 16 winners in the statewide competition for funding a program to prepare high school students for high-skill jobs. 

Fifty students — chosen through an application process in HFM BOCES component districts — will be the first to occupy the space at the former Jansen Avenue Elementary School in Johnstown, which is undergoing renovations.
The selected students will complete grades 9-14, simultaneously earning college and high school credit and continuing on to Fulton County Community College to complete their associate’s degree. Students will complete all the classes needed to meet New York State graduation requirements, but the focus will be on the four career clusters.
“The vision for the P-TECH school is to redefine secondary education,” Michel said. “We’re looking to change the definition of what that experience is.”

Dardaris said the Recruitment and Admissions Team is looking for innovative and creative eighth-graders who are interested in applying science, math, technology, engineering and math to their everyday learning.
“This is designed for the kid in the middle of the pack – the kid who isn’t jazzed by his or her present learning model, but who’s tech savvy, creative and motivated,” Michel said.

Dardaris, a former middle school principal and music instructor, has been hired as the school’s first principal and chief learning officer.

“We were looking for someone who was a motivator, who was not afraid of technology, and who has run a school in the past,” Michel said. “We also wanted someone who’s an innovator, who thinks outside of the box because P-TECH is an outside-of-the-box concept.”

“The idea here is that the learning is to be hands-on,” Dardaris explained. “Yes, there will be grades, but the concept is to create a culture that looks and functions more like a hybrid between college and the workplace.”
Instead of the “service station” approach where teachers fill up students with knowledge, the new P-TECH school aims to radically change the education model to one in which the students drive the learning process.
Teachers will steer the ship, but in the P-TECH environment, they will be more like mentors and coaches, Dardaris said. 

“Similar to the philosophy of college and in the workplace, we want students to understand that the first person responsible for knowledge and success is them,” Michel said, adding that emphasis will be on meeting the individual needs of students.

The school will start with four teachers — one for math and technology, one for humanities and English language arts, one for science and one for business and career exploration.

Fourteen local businesses also are partnering with the school districts on the P-TECH project to act as mentors and provide workplace learning opportunities including site shadowing and internships.

The sponsoring businesses are:
Townsend Leather
GlobalFoundries
FM Chamber of Commerce
NBT Bank
Benjamin Moore
CISCO
Center for Economic Growth
Broadalbin Manufacturing
Nathan Littauer
Keymark Corp.
Palio Ignite
Work Force Solutions
St. Mary’s Health Care
Gloversville Sewing
Air Jet Technologies
Beech Nut Corp.
Michel said they are looking to expand the business base. 

For more information about P-TECH, contact Mike Dardaris (mdardaris@hfmboces.org).