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Canajoharie teachers begin PTECH teacher residency

September 8, 2015 | Filed in HFM PTECH, HFM Top Stories
Canajoharie teachers

Canajoharie teachers John Sunderland and Jennifer Drake begin their PTECH teacher residency

SEPT. 8, 2015 – Two Canajoharie Middle School teachers today began a yearlong teacher residency at HFM BOCES Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH).

Jennifer Drake, a special education teacher, and John Sunderland, a science teacher, were selected to co-teach with PTECH teachers and be fully integrated with the staff at the school for the entire 2015-16 school year. The teacher residency program is funded through the PTECH grant HFM BOCES, its component school districts and a group of local business partners received in 2013.

In addition to their experience in the classroom, Drake and Sunderland will collaborate daily with PTECH teachers, employ new enrichment and intervention techniques as they work with PTECH students, arrange for other Canajoharie teachers to visit PTECH, and work on their own project based learning plans. Project based learning is a hands-on, cross-curricular approach to teaching and learning that emphasizes collaboration, critical thinking and communication.

“Part of the vision of the PTECH program is to impact instruction in local school districts,” PTECH Principal Michael Dardaris said. “We hope these two teachers will leave PTECH with their next school year mapped out in project based learning.”

Candidates who applied for the two teacher residency positions went through an application and interview process, as well as getting the required recommendations from their principals and superintendent. Drake and Sunderland applied as a team, which Dardaris said he preferred.

“Having two teachers return to their home district with these skills will help them forge a path together,” Dardaris said. “Project based learning centers on collaboration and not working in isolation, and these two teachers will have a built-in support network.”

“From the district perspective, Mrs. Drake and Mr. Sunderland will be pivotal in assisting us with our continued instruction improvement efforts,” Canajoharie Superintendent Deborah Grimshaw said.

Drake taught at Canajoharie Middle School for the past two years and prior to that worked at Knox Junior High School in Johnstown. She holds a bachelor of science in childhood education and special education from the College of Saint Rose and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and adolescent literacy from Concordia University.

Sunderland has been a middle and high school science teacher in Canajoharie for nearly 20 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and secondary education from SUNY Geneseo and a master’s degree in curriculum development and instructional technology from SUNY Albany.


Now in its second year, the HFM Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or PTECH, is a new model for high school education that includes college-level, credit-bearing coursework in the curriculum and allows students to choose their own “pathways” to high-skill jobs.

A consortium of HFM BOCES, its component school districts, Fulton-Montgomery Community College and regional business partners was one of 16 winners in a statewide competition in 2013 for funding a PTECH program that targets students who might not otherwise consider a college pathway, using a variety of demographic, academic and social indicators. The school launched at the Jansen Avenue School in Johnstown for the 2014-15 school year with 50 ninth-grade students from the component school districts. Another 55 students are attending as freshmen during the 2015-16 school year.

PTECH seeks to redefine secondary education with a curriculum that centers on project-based learning that focuses on skills in four career clusters — business management and administration, advanced manufacturing and clean technology, information and technology and health sciences.

Through the program, selected students can earn one of 10 different associate’s degrees at no cost to their families and will be considered for jobs with participating companies when they graduate.