Students and staff will present at national conference in Florida
NOV. 9, 2015 – The creators of HFM BOCES’ Pathways in Technology Early College High School (HFM PTECH) wanted to redefine secondary education, and their out-of-the-box approach has earned the program a model school designation for 2016 by the International Center for Leadership in Education.
“To be recognized with this prestigious honor is a validation of what we’re doing in the form of something other than test scores. It makes the instructional risk-taking, the many hours our staff puts in training and collaborating and the amount of time put in recruiting business partners and mentors all worthwhile,” HFM PTECH Principal Mike Dardaris said. “Our model can definitely be reproduced on many scales, so it will be great to share it with other educators from across the country.”
Representatives from model schools chosen from across the nation will share their best practices at the 24th annual Model Schools Conference, June 26-29 in Orlando, Fla. The Model Schools Conference is known as the nation’s premier event for rapidly improved, K-12 schools and districts. Each year, the conference attracts thousands of educators, who come to learn about exemplary elementary, middle and high schools.
Now in its second year, HFM PTECH embraces a new model for high school education centered on project based learning and includes college-level, credit-bearing coursework in the curriculum and allows students to choose their own “pathways” to high-skill jobs 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.
First-year student Nadia Payan of Mayfield said PTECH is different from her former school in almost every way. “At PTECH, everything we do is preparing us for the real world,” she said.
Students work across subject areas on monthly projects, and Payan said she feels the work they are doing is important to what they will experience when they get out of school. “Instead of a book report, I’m preparing a PowerPoint for a presentation, and instead of a math worksheet, I’m creating a floor plan for a luxury home.”
Second-year student Mae Goh of Johnstown said she’s learned a lot of workplace skills by working on projects in small groups. “You learn to communicate better with people, which is actually what you have to do at work,” she said.
Model schools are selected annually based on student achievement, providing every student with a rigorous and relevant curriculum, use of data to make instructional decisions and other innovative practices. Case studies for each model school serve as a resource for educators and policymakers.
Representatives from the International Center for Leadership in Education, which has its headquarters in Rexford, have visited PTECH on two occasions and have been observing and tracking the development of the program since its inception in 2014.
“We are extremely proud of this exceptional program. They will be sharing best practices, which align with the International Center’s mission of providing a rigorous learning experience all students,” said Willard R. Daggett, founder and chairman of the International Center.
The process of identifying and analyzing schools is part of a joint initiative of the Successful Practices Network and the International Center, and is based on the Learning Criteria to Support 21st Century Learners.