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A new way of looking at learning

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - Updated: 7:44 AM

A fresh approach to education is always a topic worthy of further study, as long as the goals, the focus and the direction are clearly maintained and the students reap the benefits.

A new way of learning is coming this fall in Johnstown, when Hamilton-Fulton-Mont-gomery BOCES launches a new P-TECH school in the former Jansen Avenue Elementary facility there. P-TECH stands for Pathways in Technology Early College High School, and it is one of 16 such endeavors statewide. This exciting concept is one we hope catches on.

A consortium of HFM BOCES, its component school districts, Fulton-Montgomery Community College and 16 regional businesses was one of 16 winners in a statewide competition for funding a program to prepare high school students for high-skill jobs. Through the program, selected students will earn an associate's degree at no cost to their families and will be first in line for jobs with participating companies when they graduate. The group received a $2.4 million grant in August to get the ball rolling.

The idea is to offer a handful of area students -- 50, chosen through an application process, to start out -- the opportunity to attend high school in a different environment than their peers. The curriculum centers on project-based learning that will set the students up for jobs in four career clusters offering 11 possible associate's degrees -- business management and administration, advanced manufacturing and clean technology, information and technology, and health sciences. "This is designed for the kid in the middle -- the kid who isn't jazzed by the present learning model, who's tech-savvy, creative and motivated," according to BOCES Superintendent Patrick Michel. Outstanding.

The selected students will earn college and high school credit and continue on to Fulton-Montgomery Community College to complete their associate's degree. Students will complete all the classes needed to meet state graduation requirements, but the focus will be on the four career clusters.

And the school itself promises to have a different look and feel, with students working on laptops in a common area and office-like cubicles serving as work spaces when they are not gathered for brainstorming sessions and group projects.

These sound like the kind of opportunities we hope more students are afforded. The concept is invigorating and the potential at this stage is limitless.


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