P-TECH, the region’s new technology-infused college and career-training program for high school students, has its first principal.
Rockland BOCES announced that Natasha Walkowicz Shea will head the alternative school program as it prepares to welcome its inaugural class in September. She starts July 1 and will make an annual salary of $136,000.
Walkowicz Shea’s new job and her new school are funded by a $2.1 million grant intended to get the P-TECH program off the ground over the next few years.
What is P-TECH? Read our recent coverage here.
The following is from Rockland BOCES, which is leading the start-up in collaboration with school districts, regional BOCES and community colleges on both sides of the Hudson River:
Natasha Walkowicz Shea has experience with alternative school programs and charter school startups. Most recently, she was the principal of Greenwood Lake Elementary School in the Greenwood Lake Union Free School District in Orange County.
She has numerous publications to her name and was a Cahn Fellow (Ally Program) for outstanding new leaders in 2004. She holds an M.A. in Education Administration, Organization and Leadership from the Teachers College of Columbia University and is nearing completion of an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from New York University.
“Through my professional experience, I have been exposed to many types of schools that have different sets of challenges and
need different supports along the way,” Walkowicz Shea said. “I believe each of these unique experiences have taught me to be more thoughtful about programming, and to think differently about the possibilities of what a school could look like. Although there are challenges that new schools often face during the start-up process, I feel that with the strong support of Rockland BOCES and its partnerships we can work through these challenges to provide an amazing experience for students. I’m excited that I was given this opportunity, and can’t wait to continue the good work that has already been started.”
More from Rockland BOCES:
Thanks to state and federal grants and funding, Rockland BOCES will launch this incredibly unique school program this September. The integrated six-year program combines high school, college and career training focusing on the STEM disciplines of Computer Information Technology, Engineering and Health and Green Building Technology. Graduates of the program will depart after six years with a high school Regent’s diploma as well as an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science (A.A.S.) at no additional cost. They will also be considered first in line for jobs in the region at businesses that partner with P-TECH.
Since approximately 63 percent of American jobs will require post-secondary training by 2018 (“Schools the Mean Business,” Time.com), this innovative school design relies heavily on the support and input from the business community. Over 20 Rockland
and Westchester business leaders are integral partners in developing the curriculum through a Skill Mapping process and a one-on-one student mentoring program that ensures Hudson Valley companies will have a trained, ready work force with not only the technical skills, but also the “soft skills” such as collaboration and critical thinking.
“P-TECH is both an education and economic development initiative offering an innovate approach to school designs and community partnerships. We know it will increase our graduation rates, prepare our students for the future and offer a qualified, talented pipeline for local employers,” said Charlene Jordan, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services and Professional Development and P-TECH grant author.
“When we were approached to partner with P-TECH on this exciting initiative, we did not hesitate,” said John Wickes, president of Wickes Arborists in the village of Spring Valley in Rockland County. “Our involvement as future employers is critical. We are working with the educators directly as they mold and develop the curriculum to ensure that all P-TECH graduates will be ready to work for us, and other businesses within the county – and excel.”
The plan calls for a “school within a school” with anticipated growth annually. Depending on initial enrollment, the Westchester location for P-TECH is slated to be the campus of Southern Westchester BOCES, adjacent to Westchester Community College. The Rockland location will be South Orangetown Middle School.
Students will retain access to sports in their home district, be eligible for extended day, homework assistance and curriculum support. They will receive technology for instructional use and engage in longer days, extended school year and a summer program.
“Hudson Valley P-TECH provides students with a high school/college/career continuum that helps them understand the direct links between what they are learning today and the worlds of college and work. The school’s rigorous program is designed to inspire students to focus and strive,” said Mary Jean Marisco, Ed.D., Rockland BOCES district superintendent.
Under-served students will greatly benefit from P-TECH. According to Pathways to College Network, while 65 percent of high-income and nearly half of middle-income students are participating in a college preparatory curriculum, only 28 percent of low-income students are enrolled in a similar program (2004).
Educational partners of P-TECH include: Rockland BOCES, Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES, Southern Westchester BOCES, State University of New York Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome (SUNYIT), SUNY Rockland Community College and Westchester Community College. These partners are working within committees on the curriculum scope and sequence.
Parents can request applications from their children’s current district guidance counselors through June 2014. All applications will process through the guidance counselor system to ensure that all students are made aware of the program and receive an equal opportunity to apply. For more information about P-TECH, go to www.hudsonvalleyptech.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.