P-Tech Students Juggle High School and College

By: Nadia Payan

For​ ​P-TECH​ ​students,​ ​their​ ​last​ ​two​ ​years​ ​of​ ​high​ ​school​ ​are​ ​simultaneously​ ​their​ ​first two​ ​years​ ​of​ ​college.​ ​Though​ ​some​ ​of​ ​these​ ​students​ ​are​ ​as​ ​young​ ​as​ ​fifteen,​ ​they​ ​are​ ​fully integrated​ ​in​ ​classes​ ​and​ ​on​ ​campus​ ​three​ ​to​ ​five​ ​days​ ​a​ ​week.

P-TECH​ ​stands​ ​for​ ​“Pathways​ ​in​ ​Technology​ ​Early​ ​College​ ​High​ ​School.”​ ​The​ ​program is​ ​an​ ​early​ ​college​ ​high​ ​school​ ​where​ ​students​ ​get​ ​their​ ​high​ ​school​ ​diploma​ ​and​ ​associate degree​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time​ ​in​ ​a​ ​four​ ​to​ ​six​ ​year​ ​sequence.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​established​ ​in​ ​2014.​ ​Located​ ​on Jansen​ ​Avenue​ ​in​ ​Johnstown,​ ​the​ ​school​ ​building​ ​is​ ​where​ ​freshmen​ ​and​ ​sophomores​ ​spend​ ​their first​ ​two​ ​years​ ​and​ ​where​ ​juniors​ ​spend​ ​their​ ​days​ ​on​ ​Tuesdays​ ​and​ ​Thursdays.

P-TECH​ ​juniors​ ​are​ ​at​ ​FM ​taking​ ​classes​ ​on​ ​Mondays,​ Wednesdays,​ ​and​ ​Fridays.​ ​The seniors​ ​take​ ​classes​ ​on​ ​the​ ​campus​ ​five​ ​days​ ​a​ ​week.​

 

“We​ ​think​ ​that​ ​the​ ​only​ ​way​ ​for​ ​students​ ​to get​ ​a​ ​real,​ ​true​ ​to​ ​life,​ ​honest​ ​college​ ​experience​ ​is​ ​to​ ​put​ ​them​ ​in​ ​the​ ​college. We ​can’t​ ​replicate that. ​So​ ​you​ ​put​ ​them​ ​in​ ​the​ ​true​ ​to​ ​real​ ​life​ ​experience​ ​with​ ​the​ ​real​ ​life​ ​teachers,​ ​with​ ​the real life​ ​consequence, ​the​ ​good,​ ​the​ ​bad,​ ​the​ ​ugly, ​but​ ​you​ ​go​ ​through​ ​it​ ​with​ ​support.​ ​We​ ​feel​ ​that way,​ ​you​ ​learn​ ​the​ ​skills​ ​that​ ​you​ ​would​ ​need​ ​to​ ​complete​ ​college,​ ​transfer​ ​to​ ​another​ ​college,​ ​or go​ ​into​ ​the​ ​workforce​ ​and​ ​transfer​ ​those​ ​skills,”​ ​​ ​Michael​ ​Dardaris,​ ​Principal​ ​and​ ​Chief Learning​ ​Officer​ ​at​ ​HFM​ ​P-TECH said.

Balancing​ ​high​ ​school​ ​and​ ​college​ ​work​ ​has​ ​its​ ​challenges.​ ​“It​ ​requires​ ​so​ ​much​ ​more focus​ ​and​ ​it​ ​requires​ ​you​ ​to​ ​honestly​ ​put​ ​your​ ​heart​ ​into​ ​it,​ ​and​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​driven​ ​for​ ​this program.​ ​It’s​ ​definitely​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​more​ ​pressure​ ​and​ ​responsibility,”​ ​said​ ​Abigail​ ​Douglas, P-TECH​ ​junior​ ​from​ ​Fonda,​ ​New​ ​York.​ ​Douglas​ ​is​ ​hoping​ ​to​ ​be​ ​accepted​ ​into​ ​the​ ​Radiologic Technology​ ​program this​ ​January​ ​and​ ​graduate​ ​within​ ​the​ ​next​ ​three​ ​years.

P-TECH’s​ ​goal​ ​is​ ​college​ ​graduation​ ​and​ ​then​ ​employment​ ​at​ ​a​ ​mid-level​ ​skilled ​job. Some​ ​students​ ​will​ ​transfer​ ​to​ ​a​ ​four-year​ ​university​ ​after​ ​completion.​ ​

“We​ ​have​ ​19 students​ ​that​ ​are​ ​definitely​ ​going​ ​to​ ​graduate​ ​college​ ​and​ ​high​ ​school​ ​in​ ​four​ ​years,”​ ​said Dardaris.

P-TECH​ ​students​ ​have​ ​been​ ​trained​ ​in​ ​skills​ ​such​ ​as​ ​collaboration,​ ​communication,​ ​and presentation​ ​that​ ​will​ ​be​ ​beneficial​ ​to​ ​their​ ​career​ ​pathways.​ ​They​ ​are​ ​also​ ​learning​ ​how​ ​to manage​ ​college​ ​life.

“It​ ​will​ ​give​ ​me​ ​a​ ​leg​ ​up​ ​because​ ​when​ ​we’re​ ​at​ ​an​ ​adolescent​ ​age,​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​critical​ ​time​ ​in our​ ​development.​ ​It’s​ ​when​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​our​ ​learning​ ​habits​ ​develop,​ ​so​ ​I​ ​think​ ​by​ ​going​ ​to​ ​college at​ ​this​ ​age,​ ​we’re​ ​getting​ ​those​ ​early​ ​development​ ​skills​ ​for​ ​[the]​ ​workplace​ ​which​ ​most​ ​adults don’t​ ​have,”​ ​Douglas noted. “Even​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​day​ ​if​ ​I​ ​come​ ​home​ ​and​ ​I’m​ ​really​ ​stressed​ ​out​, ​I​ ​would​ ​never quit​ ​this​ ​school. ​It’s​ ​too​ ​good​ ​of​ ​a​ ​program​ ​to​ ​give​ ​up.”

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