New pathways open for students in agriculture and environmental sciences
FEB. 18, 2016 – A consortium of Canajoharie Central School District, HFM BOCES, local businesses and area colleges is one of seven winners in the third round of New York State Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) partnership awards announced Nov. 6, 2015 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
PTECH seeks to redefine secondary education with a curriculum that centers on project-based learning that focuses on skills in distinct career clusters. The new PTECH will emphasize agricultural science, engineering, business and sustainability, along with environmental science, fisheries and wildlife technology.
“This is exciting news for our students and our communities,” HFM BOCES District Superintendent Patrick Michel said. “PTECH schools open a whole new door for students to learn, earn a free associate’s degree and have access to local business mentorship and job opportunities.”
Michel said the new grant application asked for $3 million for the region.
“This grant opportunity allows our students and our entire region to benefit from learning that joins together schools, businesses and higher education. Canajoharie Central School is proud to be partner in this grant that will benefit all of us,” Canajoharie Central School District Superintendent Deborah Grimshaw said.
AG PTECH set to open for 2016-17 School year
This is the second PTECH grant awarded to partnerships in the HFM BOCES region. HFM PTECH at Jansen Ave. School in Johnstown launched its inaugural school year in Sept. 2014 with 50 ninth grade students selected from BOCES component school districts. The second year raised that school’s enrollment to more than 100 students.
Planning is currently underway, with the new PTECH set to launch in September for the 2016-17 school year. The program will be located in the former D. H. Robbins Elementary School building in Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District.
A large audience of educators, school board members and community leaders learned about the growing need to expand agriculture education to keep pace with agri-business influenced by waves of technological innovation at an Agricultural Education Summit at HFM BOCES in September.
“Agriculture is the original STEM industry,” Michel said. “Our schools prioritize STEM programs as critical to student success. STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the building blocks of today’s agribusiness growth. This new grant will provide the means to create new agricultural education programs aligned with the opportunities in this growing field.”
Fifteen businesses initially are participating in the grant, committed to providing important mentoring and internship opportunities for students in the new PTECH. The participating businesses are Avanti Control Systems; CG Roxane; Empire State Health Solutions; Fulton Montgomery Chamber of Commerce; Goderie’s Tree Farm; Gray’s Garden & Greenhouse; Hu-Hill Farm Store; Hulten Speed Sports; Little Falls Veterinary Clinic; Randall Implements Co., Inc.; RC Enterprises; Rockview Farms; Rogers Family Orchard; Seattle Family Farms; and Wemple & Edick’s.
Through the grant, students in PTECH can earn associate’s degrees at Herkimer Community College, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, or SUNY Cobleskill.
Non-traditional model for school a proven success
“We have successfully demonstrated with our first PTECH that a non-traditional model of school that challenges students provides inspiring results,” Dr. Michel said. “We know that we can motivate and empower students to achieve beyond what they may have thought was possible, and are excited to expand with this new venture into new career fields.”
Dr. Michel said the lessons learned at the first PTECH will fuel innovation at the new school.
“Except for the provisions that the new school build business partnerships, immerse the project-based curriculum in technology and measure student proficiency against state standards, the doors are wide open to create an environment that inspires and motivates our students and teachers,” Dr. Michel said.
NYS-PTECH was announced as part of the Governor’s 2013-2014 Executive Budget and received additional funding and support through the State Education Department. The public-private initiative was launched in partnership with IBM, which helped create the PTECH program and provides tools, training and support to each NYS-PTECH school.
The NYS-PTECH partnership builds on the nationally recognized success of IBM’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in New York City.
NYS-PTECH partnerships provide nearly 9,000 students with a high school diploma, college degree and pathway to a job. New York was the first to take the P-TECH program statewide through an initiative that links education to regional economic development.
Following New York’s lead, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois and Rhode Island are now all implementing this innovative model. Australia also recently announced plans to pilot two schools modeled on PTECH.
NYS-PTECH is “transforming our educational system by giving students the skills and experience they need to succeed in the competitive global workforce,” said Governor Cuomo. “These P-TECH awards are enabling our partner organizations to make a real difference in the lives of children across the state. I am proud to be supporting them and helping some of our brightest young minds prepare for the opportunities of the future.”
The HFM BOCES partnership represents the Mohawk Valley. Other regions across the state that will receive grant money include Western NY, North Country, Southern Tier, Central NY and Long Island.