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I am a member of IBM’s Academic Initiative team, and recently volunteered to run a team-building activity at the Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA) Summer Academy in Connecticut. NECA is a partnership among the Norwalk Public Schools, Norwalk Community College and IBM, and will officially open this fall as Connecticut’s first P-TECH model school. As with all P-TECH schools, NECA will capitalize on a public-private partnership between an employer (IBM) and educators to provide an academically rigorous and economically relevant grades 9 through 14 education that will launch graduates into meaningful, middle-class careers. NECA graduates will receive both a high school diploma and a no-cost associate degree in technology, and will be first in line for consideration for jobs with IBM.
The NECA Summer Academy was attended by local dignitaries and media, school faculty, IBM volunteers and 50 bright young students anxious to get a head start on the school year. My role was to introduce attendees to the type of workplace learning and skills-building exercises that are part of every P-TECH school curriculum. Our project – to build a bridge out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti – was designed to get students to think and act like engineers…as a team. The students in my group ended up doing a great job on two separate bridge concepts.
Here is some background information on NECA and P-TECH:
- NECA is Connecticut’s first Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) early college high school, and is part of a larger network of 27 grades 9 through 14 schools that will be operational in September 2014. Each P-TECH school brings together three essential partners – K through 12 education, higher education, and industry – to create an effective bridge that spans high school, college and career training.
- IBM developed the playbook for the P-TECH model, and is the industry partner for NECA, one of the 16 new P-TECH schools that will open in New York State this fall, the Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy in Chicago (one of five P-TECH schools there), and the inaugural P-TECH school in Brooklyn, New York.
- As NECA’s corporate partner, IBM will guide critical aspects of the academic and workplace learning curriculum – working with the Norwalk Public Schools and Norwalk Community College to map the students’ training to the job market.
I’m looking forward to future opportunities to collaborate with IBM Corporate Citizenship on student-focused skills building programs such as NECA. I’m also very excited for these students in Norwalk, and for the career and personal growth opportunities they will have as a result of their hard work in the NECA program.
For more information on IBM’s P-TECH Schools program, please contact Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Responsibility Education Manager Grace Suh.
Jean Barlage is a program manager for the IBM Academic Initiative program, part of the Ecosystem Development organization in IBM Software Group. IBM partners with more than 30,000 higher education professionals through the IBM Academic Initiative, which helps advance curriculum in areas including Big Data and Analytics, Cloud Computing, Security, Mobile and Social Business.
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