Hopkins Academy in Hadley to launch clean energy career pathway for students

Hopkins Academy in Hadley is one of five schools statewide that will soon offer a Clean Energy Innovation Pathways pilot program.

Hopkins Academy in Hadley is one of five schools statewide that will soon offer a Clean Energy Innovation Pathways pilot program. FILE PHOTO

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 04-07-2024 3:01 PM

HADLEY — Hopkins Academy is one of five schools across Massachusetts that will be home to a Clean Energy Innovation Pathways pilot, with students getting hands-on learning opportunities related to the renewable energy sector.

On Wednesday, Gov. Maura Healey was at Carver Middle School to announce that that school, along with Hopkins, will be piloting the program.

At the same time, Hopkins and Granby Junior Senior High School will both be joining the Information Technology Innovation Pathway so they can develop partnerships with local employers and a MassHire Career board, giving students at the schools experience and insights into whether that may be a field they wish to pursue in college, or a career after high school.

The Innovation Pathways announcements from the state comes as Hopkins is also receiving a One8 Foundation grant to support Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Career Learning. Through that, the school is adding Project Lead The Way programs that will provide hands-on, applied learning and in-depth teacher professional development.

A total of 36 high schools were selected to be part of the latest Innovation Pathways that gives students work-based, applied learning experiences in high-demand industries, while also helping the state to enhance its workforce pipelines to meet the needs of employers. The state now has 226 Innovation Career Pathways for about 8,000 students at nearly 100 high schools.

For Granby, this will be the launch of Innovation Pathways, while Hopkins is adding to existing programs.

In fiscal year 2025, the state is providing $47.8 million for high school Innovation Pathways programs.

“We’re excited that students ... will have the opportunity to explore our Clean Energy Pathway next school year,” Healey said. “We want to ensure that what students learn in school helps them get where they want to go, while also meeting our workforce needs.”

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Meanwhile, Project Lead The Way, a nonprofit organization focused on coursework in computer science, engineering and biomedical work, is coming to Hopkins, which is joining more than 12,000 schools across the country offering such programs.

Superintendent Anne McKenzie said in a statement that the district began offering the organization’s programs at Hadley Elementary School in 2020 and this year will expand to Hopkins, initially offering the high school computer science program.

“Receiving funding for high school computer science courses coincides with the commencement of our new Innovation Pathways in Information Sciences/Technology and Clean Energy,” McKenzie said. “We are thrilled to provide increased opportunities for students to take challenging courses that will prepare them for post-secondary education and employment in high-paying and rapidly growing careers.”

Funds from the grant will also support teacher professional development and the purchase of materials and equipment that will be used in these courses, and Hopkins Academy will have access to a regular set of teacher professional learning opportunities, student project showcases, and connections to industry professionals offered by the Mass Learning Project and the One8 Applied Learning Hub.

Since 2017, the One8 Foundation, along with the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council, the Workforce Skill Cabinet and the Massachusetts Life Science Center, have provided support to expand Project Lead The Way programs for students across the state.

“Students are hungry for experiences that allow them to apply what they are learning to solve real-world, meaningful problems,” One8Foundation President Joanna Jacobson said. “Providing equitable access to hands-on applied learning programs that deliver academic gains while building critical thinking and complex problem-solving skills ensures students are engaged and interested in school and prepared for success in this ever-changing world.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.