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District News

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David W. Ziskin

Superintendent of Schools

25 High Street

Fort Plain, NY 13339





Fort Plain students embracing PTECH experience

The new Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Pathways in Technology Early College High School opened for the 2014-15 school year with 50 ninth-graders and a mission to redefine secondary education through project-based learning and cutting-edge technology in a collaborative environment. Four Fort Plain students — Dakota Eller, Gregory Kirby, Zachary Rogers and Grant Stevens — were selected for the inaugural PTECH class.

“You work with other students as a team to solve problems and learn from our mistakes to become better,” Rogers said of working in groups. “Everything becomes more interesting, and that gives you the desire to learn more.”

Fort Plain is part of a consortium that includes HFM BOCES, its component school districts, Fulton-Montgomery Community College and 16 regional businesses. The group won a state grant for $2.4 million in August 2013 to launch PTECH. Through the program, students not only earn an associate’s degree at no cost to their families; they’re first in line for high-skill jobs with participating companies once they graduate. Each participating school district is given a certain number of slots based on population. Students apply as eighth-graders, and the 50 students are selected after interviews and application reviews.

The four Fort Plain students now attend school with students from 12 other school districts, an experience they all seem to be enjoying. “The best part about coming to this school is all the new people you get to meet and all the friends you get to make,” Rogers said.

Each school day, the students are bused from Fort Plain to the Jansen Avenue School in Johnstown, where traditional classrooms with rows of desks have been replaced with collaborative learning spaces. Students get their own laptops and can share what they are working on via the large monitors throughout the room.

Kirby said the technology used at PTECH is his favorite aspect of the school. “There’s a lot more freedom with the technology, and you can take the computers home,” he said.

PTECH operates in a paperless environment, which students say they like. “You don’t have to carry around a bunch of textbooks,” Stevens said.

The students also appreciate how their schedules deviate from the typical high school day and the teachers can be flexible with class schedules. Time also is built in for extra help and attention.
After-school programs such as robotics and yearbook clubs are offered, but students also can return to their home schools to participate in sports or other after-school activities there. Stevens is a member of the Fort Plain wrestling team. “I can still be in contact with people from Fort Plain and compete,” he said.

The students are already taking college courses, and at the end of this year, the PTECH freshmen will choose from four career clusters: business management and administration, advanced manufacturing and clean technology, information and technology and health sciences.

“So far, it has been an amazing experience, full of learning and fun,” Rogers said.

Eller agreed: “I wish we could have more students to have the same experience as I have now.”

For more information on HFM PTECH, go to http://hfmboces.org/PTECH.htm.