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Jefferson-Lewis BOCES Pre-Technical Academy starts in the fall

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Next year, high school sophomores will get to join older students at the Charles H. Bohlen Jr. and Howard G. Sackett technical centers.

The Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services is launching its 10th-grade Pre-Technical Academy to introduce students to technical careers earlier than ever.

“Career and tech education has been proven to prevent kids from dropping out,” said Tracy J. Gyoerkoe, director of career, technical, adult and continuing education. “Our carpentry students don’t have to ask why they have to do math, because they can see it and feel it.”

So far, 38 students — enough for two sessions — have enrolled in the one-year program. These students will explore 16 career paths, get a global studies and English credit, and develop computer skills. Mrs. Gyoerkoe said the program has been about two years in the making.

“The program is designed for students who benefit from small group classroom instruction combined with the opportunity to integrate project-based learning,” a news release states.

The students also will be working with the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency and area businesses to find out how to solve common industry problems.

“Our goal is to have students come out with a career plan, to stay in school and to pass the global studies Regents,” Mrs. Gyoerkoe said.

BOCES career and technical education classes traditionally have been only for 11th- and 12th-grade students.

Mrs. Gyoerkoe said the Pre-Technical Academy students also will learn about career paths other than those offered through BOCES. If a student wants to become a physical therapist, she said, they will know what math and science classes they should take their junior and senior years.

“The idea is for them to create a career plan,” she said. “It may involve one of our programs or it may not.”

Of the students that have enrolled in the new program, 27 are from the Watertown City School District, Mrs. Gyoerkoe said. She said it is possible to fit in other students as they come.

Many of the students joined after an orientation earlier this month; there will be another orientation in the fall for parents to learn about the program.

So far, a career and tech teacher, a global studies teacher and an English teacher have been hired to teach next year’s classes, but more can be hired if the demand increases.

“One of the most important parts of it is the training,” Mrs. Gyoerkoe said.

The teachers need to tailor their classes to the Common Core, testing to align education standards throughout the country.

“We’re ready to run,” Mrs. Gyoerkoe said. “I couldn’t be more pleased to have 38 students enrolled.”

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