When the three HFM BOCES PTECH schools — Foothills, Agriculture and Jansen — start up this fall as a co-located entity, they will introduce a new program to help integrate the students from the three schools, as well as students transferring from the former PTECH program at Amsterdam High School, and establish a school rooted in positivity.
HFM PTECH instructional coach Kim Abel said the introduction to The Positivity Project began with staff at the Foothills PTECH this past winter, and many staff members of the co-located PTECH program have completed virtual P2 training and workshops this summer. Also known as P2, the nationally known program equips schools with the resources to help students build positive relationships and become their best selves. This past spring, a group of 17 students from all the PTECH schools in the HFM region who will serve as the ambassadors of the program began a series of online meetings to learn about the Positivity Project.
Among the first things staff and the small group of students completed was an assessment to determine their character strengths.
“When students understand and learn to leverage their top character strengths and seek to find those of others, the possibilities are endless,” Abel said. “P2 will provide a common strengths-based vocabulary, opportunities for student-driven implementation and shared learning experiences that will help develop a strong school culture at HFM PTECH.”
HFM PTECH Principal Matt Davis agreed, noting that implementing P2 at the school is a long-term investment in the learning environment.
“The Positivity Project is not a one-time thing; it’s a system to improve school culture,” Davis said.
One of the main focuses of the program is “positivity in action.” Rising sophomore Emily Wood, who attended Agriculture PTECH this past year, said having more people understand this mindset will hopefully lead to more people spreading positivity. “I want to make a difference and help others to see things in a positive light,” Wood said of her motivation for being an ambassador.
Davis said The Positivity Project fits well with the school’s project-based approach to teaching and learning. “This is a great opportunity to tie our academic culture with our school culture,” he said.
Project based learning involves a lot of group work, and special education teacher Jeanne Halloran said The Positivity Project will help students capitalize on each other’s strengths when working together. “It’s about looking for what is good about other people, and training students to be positive instead of that inclination to be negative.
School counselor Taylor VanSlyke said she likes that it teaches resilience in the face of hardship and empathy. “I also really love the idea of the growth mindset P2 teaches,” she said.