A first for Connecticut – P-Tech academy, in Norwalk

NORWALK, Conn. – A select group of next fall’s Norwalk high school freshmen will be able to write their own tickets in six years as a result of a revolutionary new educational collaboration, state and local officials said Friday.

“I don’t want to make it sound corny, but today is an historic moment in education in the state of Connecticut, because what you are seeing today is the tangible tearing down of the walls and the silos between K-12 and post-secondary education,” said Gregory W. Gray, Ph.D., president of the Board of Regents that governs the 17 Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (ConnSCU).

Gray was one of several high level dignitaries at a press conference at Norwalk Community College echoing the announcement of Connecticut’s first Pathways in Technology Early College High School, scheduled to open in Norwalk in September. Known as a P-Tech model school, the six-year academy is a collaboration with IBM, Norwalk Public Schools and NCC.

“This is a new school spanning grades nine to 14, where students will participate in both high school and college classes, job training and internships with IBM,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said. “These students will graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in applied sciences from Norwalk Community College. These graduates will be first in line for jobs at IBM.”

Any current eighth-grade Norwalk student can apply for the lottery to get into the Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA); 100 will be selected for admissions, with no test or screening required,  NPS Communications Director Brenda Williams said.

“Curriculum and classes are still to be finalized, but there will be a focus in certain areas to make sure students are on track for the college-level courses later in the program. There will also be academic support outside of regular school hours to make sure students are well prepared,” she wrote in an email.

“This is the best example of teamwork and collaboration among different governmental bodies, the private sector, other organizations, that I have ever been associated with,” Norwalk Superintendent Manny Rivera said.

NHS Principal Reginald Roberts said 400 students are expected to be enrolled in the new academy by 2018.

“We anticipate information sessions as early as next week, as well as a summer academy to go along with this program,” he said. “What I want my students to know … is that the walls are, in fact, false. The walls between business and industry and schooling are created walls. The walls that we create to say that we are different, and that we go from math to science to English, are walls that we created over time. The walls are in fact false, but they can be brought down.”

Two speakers linked the creation of the P-Tech school to the institution of high school as a mandatory requirement after World War II.

“The United States of America was the first country in the world to mandate high school education … and the United States of America is the first country to introduce P-Tech into its economy,” said Nicholas Donofrio of IBM and the board of regents.

The first P-Tech school created by IBM and partners opened in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2011, according to a press release. President Barack Obama applauded the model in his 2012 State of the Union address, saying, “This country should be doing everything in our power to give more kids a chance to go to schools just like this one.”

IBM’s second P-Tech school, called Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, opened in Chicago in 2012, the release said.

The P-Tech model was designed to be both widely replicable and sustainable as part of a national effort to reform career and technical education, and there are eight such schools currently in operation, the release said. New York is expanding its commitment to P-Tech, opening 16 schools next September, with 10 more slated for September 2015, the release said.


10 responses to “A first for Connecticut – P-Tech academy, in Norwalk”


    What a coup for Norwalk!

  2. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    Really outstanding and a great source of pride for all Norwalkers. This has got to be at the pinnacle of indications that good things have been happening in Norwalk over the past several months.

    It is clear that Norwalk now has the attention of Hartford.

  3. Lisa Thomson

    @Rod I am not sure now much Hartofrd has to do with it, versus having a reform minded and progressive superintendent. So long as the bad guys in Norwalk don’t succeed in doing to Dr. Rivera, what they did to Dr. Marks then Norwalk is destined for good things. Leadership in both the Democrat and Republican parties have to realize that the key to Norwalk’s revitalization is a strong and reputable education system – that means a strong and strategically minded superintendent (which we now have) coupled with a majority of bi-partisan reformers on the BOE focused on the kids and the city and not their own personal, district or party agendas.

  4. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    Lisa: Agreed

    Every indication so far seems to be that the current leadership is fully behind Dr. Rivera. We are fortunate to have a man of his quality and qualifications behind our educational structure here in Norwalk.

  5. anonymous

    @lisa @rod agreed, things like this don’t happen to school districts without a Superintendent who can lead it.

  6. Annonymous

    Dr. Levinson, president of NCC, needs to be applauded for making this happen. It was his vision from the start. He and Dr. Rivera worked together to create this promising program. Bravo!

  7. Piberman

    Those who periodically emerge to complain about the BOE, including some of its ever complaining non-performing members and the hostile NFT, ought to save this article as a reminder of what has been achieved under the leadership of BOE Chair Mike Lyons and Supt. Riviera. Their combined achievements are nothing beyond astonishing. Especially for a community long viewed as utterly incapable of running a well functioning public school system. Imagine what could be achieved under similar commanding leadership City wide.

  8. David

    In a prior post I said this was exciting (I think “wow” was the word I used). I completely understated. My apologies.
    This is the future. That high school students can leave school with an associates degree in applied sciences, be eligible for careers at IBM? “Understatement” is an understatement.
    Quite simply, this is the type of initiative that economies should be built around. As the world economies mend, a war for high skill talent will emerge, and programs like this one will take center stage. The city of Norwalk needs to be ready to take advantage of that.
    Common core readiness, P-Tech, everyone (I mean everyone) involved in our education community is pulling their weight, doing their part to ensure the future economic viability of Norwalk, the rest of City Hall needs to do the same.

  9. J Patel

    I am a freshmen now and I am going to be sophomore next year. I desperately want to join the P-tech program is there anyways in which I can get in. I don’t think it’s fair that only the 8th graders get this opportunity. There has to be a way for me to get in. I am willing to give a test or do anything to get in please do something. I don’t want to miss this opportunity, just because I am one year older. Please response quickly.

  10. J Patel, this was discussed at last night’s Board meeting. The Academy is designed to take students through a 6-year program. Joining it in year 2 is unlikely to be successful, in the judgment of the creators of the program. Last night a question was asked if a student could re-take grade 9 in order to participate; it was thought possible. We have 25 sign-ups so far for 100 slots; if we don’t fill the 100 slots with 8th graders, we MIGHT be able to accommodate a highly-motivated 9th grader. Please contact our Technology and Innovation Director, Ralph Valenzisi, to let him know of your interest ([email protected]).

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