On the cover of the book ‘Breaking Barriers - How P-Tech Schools Create a Pathway From High School to College to Career’, written by Dr. Stanley Litow, it features a photograph of several young graduates from one of the P-Tech schools ready to take on the world. The students featured on the cover are students from the P-Tech program in the City of Newburgh.
P-Tech translates to Pathways in Technology (P-Tech) Program. In a P-Tech newsletter, Newburgh P-Tech is described as a ‘public-private partnership’ where Newburgh students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cyber Security or Networking from the State University of New York (SUNY) Orange, who is one of three partners who operate and support behind the scenes of P-Tech. These other partners include Newburgh Free Academy North Campus and IBM. With open enrollment at no cost, Newburgh students, in six years or less, according to the district website, will go through a curriculum based on science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts that can be applied to their fields of study and assist when searching for jobs once they graduate. IBM and several other companies also provide internships and full-time positions to P-Tech students. From 2018 to now, 82 Newburgh students from NFA P-Tech have earned their Associate of Applied Science degrees, according to the newsletter.
“This is an incredibly successful school (NFA North P-Tech) and it’s great to see so many people supportive of it,” Litow said. “I think it’s amazing to provide this opportunity to all students, not just some.” This year, 2021, marks the tenth anniversary of the overall opening of P-Tech, according to Litow. The first P-Tech school opened its doors in Brooklyn and has since spread to 13 states and 28 countries.
Current legislation supporting P-Tech is “extremely important” to Litow as it pertains to funding for P-Tech. In the New York State Assembly, Bill Number A08284 states the following: ‘Relates to continuing the New York State Smart Scholars Early College High School Program and the New York State Pathways in Technology Early College High School Program’. This bill is sponsored by Assemblymember Pamela J. Hunter and co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Jonathan Rivera, Karines Reyes, Jennifer Lunsford and Jonathan Jacobson. An alumni of the Newburgh schools, Assemblyman Jacobson is a strong supporter of the P-Tech program here at NFA North. For Jacobson, this program is a success and provides opportunities to students who may have not had opportunities previously. With this bill, Jacobson hopes to bring this program across the state and to increase annual funding for P-Tech. Senate Bill S6825 also contains the same message. This bill is sponsored by Senator Shelley B. Mayer and co-sponsored by Senators Zellnor Myrie and James Skoufis.
On Thursday, December 2, NFA North Campus hosted a forum to discuss P-Tech’s expansion and sustainability. Guests for the event include the following: Litow himself, City of Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey, Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, State University of New York (SUNY) Orange President, Dr. Kristine Young and other guests of P-Tech affiliates and organizers and local legislative and SUNY Orange representatives. During the course of the forum, guests were able to hear from Litow, P-Tech house principal Kevin Rothman, P-Tech alumni Christian Molina and Kailyn Bremmer on their experiences with P-Tech.
Molina currently works for IBM as a Cyber Threat Analyst and graduated from P-Tech in 2020. Coming from the City of Newburgh, Molina believes that this program can show students new career possibilities, taking them to new places to excel in their fields of interest. “This is a very great job program that offers very amazing opportunities,” Molina said. He plans to return to school for his bachelors and masters degrees and continue spreading the message of P-Tech. Bremmer currently works for GlobalFoundries as a Technician Engineer in the metrology and maintenance departments. She graduated from high school in 2018 and graduated from SUNY Orange in 2020 with her degree in networking information technology in computer science. For Bremmer, she is grateful to her mother for pushing her to apply and continue through the program.
Adrianna Izquierdo is an 11th grader at NFA North and first joined the P-Tech program when she was in ninth grade. She first became interested in the cybersecurity program offered through P-Tech and saw that the program offered assistance to students of diversity to be successful in their studies. “I chose P-Tech because I like to jump at opportunities,” Izquierdo said. As graduation slowly draws closer, Izquierdo has considered going to work for IBM and for her, she would be the first one in her family to go off to college. “It’s really such a good program. Everyone should really have the opportunity to have it. In the future, it should be something for everyone and be available for everyone,” Izquierdo said. “Education in general should be about not stressing or pushing your students to be specifically something or not just selecting the few people who are already high achievers. The people who are already not doing their best, they all have a chance, and I feel like everyone should feel that they have a chance to succeed in their life.”
A graduate of NFA, Rothman previously served as a math teacher at Heritage Middle School and then became the supervisor of the STEM program before now heading P-Tech. “I am lucky enough to be the founding house principal of Newburgh Free Academy P-Tech,” said Rothman. “For me it’s about innovation. It‘s about how can we best serve students and in this case, students in Newburgh.” According to Rothman the funding that P-Tech uses in the program helps cover the costs of transportation, cover several tuition costs and loans, and helps with access to more advanced technology. During the course of the pandemic last year, P-Tech had one of the highest associate degree completion rates.
For SUNY Orange, according to Dr. Young, the goals of the school are to extend and support higher learning opportunities for students across the county. Even while taking classes at the college, P-Tech students will have access to the college’s resources and amenities. Young’s hope is for SUNY Orange to increase its ‘footprint’ in P-Tech, spreading the message and ideas of the program.
For now, P-Tech students will be making their way to graduation come next year and legislators and educators will wait for the decision on the two bills.