A group of Longwood High School students will get training for technology careers starting in ninth grade and continuing through community college, buttressed by mentoring from a corporate partner's employees, in an initiative that is a first on Long Island, officials are to announce Monday.
The Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) partnership in the Longwood district will give about 20 students each year the opportunity to achieve both a high school Regents diploma and a college-level associate degree in applied science or computer science, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said.
The six-year program, now in the planning stages, is slated to have its first group of students in fall 2014. Those students, who have not yet been selected, are now finishing seventh grade. Their participation will be at no cost to them.
The initiative also involves Suffolk County Community College, Eastern Suffolk BOCES and CA Technologies of Islandia, whose employees will mentor students in technology skills. The goal is to reach students who are not planning to attend four-year colleges after graduating high school.
"This struck me as an ideal way to expand the college-bound population," said Bishop, who is scheduled to make the announcement Monday morning at Longwood High School, which has an enrollment of about 2,850 students.
Connecting school and jobs
The partnership utilizes the P-TECH model -- an integrated program for ninth-graders through the two years of community college -- and is designed to connect education to jobs through mentorships and education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and workplace skills.
Bishop said he began pushing for the program's creation shortly after President Barack Obama praised Brooklyn's Pathways in Technology Early College High School in his State of the Union address. In that P-TECH program, established in 2011, students earn associate degrees in a partnership with IBM and the City University of New York. Similar initiatives are under way in several other schools in New York City and Chicago.
Longwood Superintendent Michael Lonergan said the district welcomed the idea when approached by Bishop. The P-TECH concept fits with the district's existing commitment to expand STEM opportunities, he said. "Our board of education has been on this for a number of years, knowing quite well what the expectations will be for students," he said.
The P-TECH trajectory would see students graduate with a Regents diploma, including the opportunity to earn college credits at Suffolk County Community College while in high school, as well as after. They eventually would graduate from SCCC with an associate degree, organizers said.
Bishop said staff from Longwood and the community college, with input from CA Technologies, will create the curriculum within the next 15 months. That curriculum will be designed to meet entry-level job requirements at the company.
Students will be mentored by CA employees over the six-year period and will meet on a regular basis with CA representatives, both at the company's offices in Islandia and at the high school in Middle Island. Bishop said he expects them to "compete favorably" for employment at CA Technologies upon graduation from the program.
Company's 'perfect fit'
Representatives from CA Technologies expressed enthusiasm for the project.
"We are always trying to build the STEM pipeline," said Erica Christensen, the company's senior director for community affairs. "We have STEM programs all over the country, and education and technology programs all over the world. We are a New York company with our headquarters on Long Island, and we were looking for something to get involved in and sink our teeth into. This was a perfect fit."
The program's total cost has not been tallied. Organizers will apply for a grant from the state to cover costs, Bishop said, noting that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has included $4 million in the state budget to fund such initiatives.
Eastern Suffolk BOCES will coordinate the program. Officials there said it could expand to other Long Island schools.
"We are anticipating that this will grow beyond the initial partners," said Gary Bixhorn, chief operating officer of Eastern Suffolk BOCES. "We see this as a pilot for others to learn from."