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.”
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.
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
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.
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