HFM BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Patrick Michel welcomed the teachers and staff to the 2016-17 school year at Opening Day activities Thursday, Sept. 1. More than 350 people representing HFM’s Career and Technical Education, Special Education, Adult Educational Services, District Services divisions, along with PTECH, Ag-PTECH and Adirondack Academy was reacquainted over coffee and muffins before learning where HFM is heading in the new school year.
“Our role is expanding in this region,” Dr. Michel told the audience. He explained how BOCES could take advantage of changes at the federal and state level to help build capacity for local schools to serve students better. “There is nothing new in public education. As our Regents open up multiple ‘pathways’ to a high school diploma, they are echoing the ideas of 19th century/early 20th century education reformer John Dewey’s words.”
Dr. Michel explained how, after years of ineffective policy, the federal government was abdicating its role in education. On the horizon for public schools is the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, which gives the responsibility, and opportunity, back to the states.
Educational leadership strategist Bill Daggett points out that after the word ‘the,’ the word that appears most frequently in ESSA is ‘innovation.’ And grant money that used to flow so freely toward STEM programming is now being promised to, you guessed it, career pathways,” Dr. Michel said.
The new directions in education have helped HFM BOCES introduce and facilitate more innovative programing ideas.
“For years, our school districts have sent students to us. Nearly 30% of students in our high schools alone participate in BOCES as an outside agency. Now with the development of new collaborative pathways programs, BOCES is becoming an embedded agency right in the school districts,” Dr. Michel said. “We’re starting small, but are opening opportunities for students to flow seamlessly to the school and pathway they chose.
He was referring to the Tri-City Educational Pathway cooperative agreement between Gloversville, Johnstown and Amsterdam, and a second new collaborative being developed between Canajoharie, Fort Plain and OESJ. These agreements allow a select group of students from each school to attend and participate in distinctive programs in one of the other schools.