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Classrooms: NHS to launch IT training program with GCC, Tech Foundry

  • Northampton High School.



@ecutts_HG
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — A new program set to begin this fall at Northampton High School is aimed at preparing students for a career in the information technology field.

The high school has created the Information Technology Innovation Pathway through a partnership with Greenfield Community College and Tech Foundry, a Springfield program that trains and places high school students and others at entry-level technology jobs throughout the region.

“We really need to keep innovating the structures within our school in order to meet the needs of our students,” Northampton School Superintendent John Provost said, noting that how this is done is basically the same way it was a century ago. “The world has changed, kids have changed. I was excited by the opportunity to try and do something different within the context of a high school structure that may have greater relevance for students.”

The new program, funded by a $140,000 grant from the state’s Executive Office of Education, will prepare students to prosper in a very important and growing sector, Provost said. The program is open to students entering ninth and 10th grades.

Molly McLoughlin, the district’s digital literacy and computer science coordinator, is visiting all eighth-grade classes in the district to introduce students to the program. She has yet to make the introduction to current high school freshman, but said the new program has already surpassed its first-year enrollment goal of 12 students.

Each year will be a unique experience with various types of field trips and real-world experience planned to accompany traditional high school classes, McLoughlin explained. Transportation, funding and guidance will be provided for students throughout their experience. During junior and senior year, students will take computer science classes at GCC.

By the time students finish the program, they will graduate with three internship experiences and industry level credentials in IT to add to their resumes as well as 12 undergraduate credits that are transferable among any college in the state, McLoughlin said.

Principal Bryan Lombardi highlighted the direct link between the education process happening in the classroom and the hands-on experience outside of the school walls — answering the question many students ask of how is this relevant outside of school.

Partnering with the high school was a natural fit, according to Jonathan Edwards, Tech Foundry’s director of strategic partnerships.

“The goal of providing young people with a career pathway is something the schools hold near and dear to their heart and it is also important to Tech Foundry for a variety of different reasons,” Edwards said.

Edwards said the school was founded to fill a skills gap in the IT workforces.

“There aren’t enough skilled IT professional to fill the job need of area employers,” he said.

With Tech Foundry, NHS students in the final year of the program will participate in a boot camp style curriculum which will focus on three areas — cyber security, networking and web development, according to McLoughlin.

In addition to partnering with Tech Foundry and GCC, students will also gain experience through work with the city’s IT department. Antonio Pagán, the city’s chief information officer, said the new program will give students the opportunity, before college, to not only experience a real workplace but also learn about IT careers available in the region.

The program is currently enrolling incoming ninth and 10th grade students. Students and parents interested in learning more about the program should contact McLoughlin at mmcloughlin@northampton-k12.us.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.