Five dozen eighth graders signed up for the district’s new P-TECH high school at Panther Academy that will prepare them for middle-skill technology jobs.
Students in the program will graduate with a high school diploma, an associate degree, and practical experience in the tech sector.
“You are here tonight because you made a clear and distinct decision to be a student at P-TECH at PANTHER Academy,” superintendent Eileen Shafer told the 60 students at a signing day ceremony held at Passaic County Community College on Thursday. “You have taken up the challenge of becoming academic athletes, and you will get the education and experience you need to become champions in the technology sector of our nation’s economy.”
The district’s Pathways in Technology and Early College High School (P-TECH) is one of three in New Jersey announced late last year by governor Phil Murphy. It’s a program similar to the apprenticeship model prevalent in Germany.
Students in the program will be prepared for jobs in cybersecurity, cloud computing, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare. Many jobs in these fast-growing parts of the economy require more than a high school diploma, but not a four-year degree.
The school district will run the new high school in partnership with IBM and the Passaic County Community College.
“We are thrilled to be part of the team,” said Martin Laird of IBM.
The students had a chance to meet hometown football star Victor Cruz, a big proponent of STEM education, at the signing event. For example, his foundation supports the STEM program at the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson.
“I’m excited about the addition of P-TECH high school to my hometown. This city was birthed from the minds of engineers, inventors and creators,” said Cruz. “As a philanthropist, I’m dedicated to promoting positive change in the lives of youth today through innovative educational programs and P-TECH will help educate a new wave of future engineers, inventors and creators from Paterson.”
The P-TECH high school at Panther Academy is slated to open in Sept. 2019. The school is funded by a $300,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Education.