Mr. Davis knew that assuming the leadership of a new model would be a significant challenge, but the opportunity to try new approaches to help underserved populations was extremely attractive. “Studies show that by the time they reach the age of 25, only 30 percent of people in this country have completed a four-year college degree. The numbers are much lower for people of color. This six-year model may seem like a long time, but if students are tasting success and given an opportunity to see themselves working as professionals at companies like IBM, I knew that we could make a dent in the completion of post-secondary education.”
According to Davis, public-private partnership is key to the success of the school, even if it complicates school management. “The triangulation of high school, college, and industry is challenging work; it requires all involved to move forward and challenge ‘business-as-usual’ approaches,” says Davis. This also presents advantages. “For example, teachers’ professional development opportunities are enhanced by industry and college professors. Teachers also use blended learning. The teachers are encouraged to lead the school and live in the big picture.”
For the school to be successful, Mr. Davis has worked to unite all the variables that the P-TECH model has to offer to serve student learning. “How we structure time, how we structure resources, how we use adults, how we use industry mentors, how we use the skills from industry to ensure that students are college- and career-ready, and how do we be deliberate in making sure that kids are exposed to them through projects, through job shadow visits, through skill-based internships,” notes Davis. “It’s about being strategic and purposeful in making sure that the skills that are needed are embedded in the day-to-day work.”
Mr. Davis also has been intent on creating a culture of high achievement and high expectations for all of those in the school, including its students. According to Davis, “P-TECH is about promise, but it’s also about expectation. The promise is that if you come here, you’ll get the chance to gain the academic, workplace and interpersonal experience you’ll need to help make your dreams come true.” For Davis, this isn’t something that is given, but rather something that is earned. “The expectation is that you will apply yourself, take full advantage of this unique opportunity, and give back — both as a productive member of your community and as a mentor and role model for future generations.”
For more information about Shared Decision-Making in the P-TECH 9-14 model, please visit Shared Decision-Making.