WRITTEN BY NORREIDA REYES | PHOTOS PROVIDED
The technology corridor running straight through Saratoga County has grown steadily for two decades, stretching from its Capital Region/Hudson Valley birthplace to New York State’s northern and southern borders.
Tech Valley’s success can be attributed to many sources, but none so much as the halls of higher education institutions, such as Hudson Valley Community College, which operates the TEC-SMART facility in Malta, New York. TEC-SMART is home to the Clean Technologies Early College High School, which is one of New York State’s Pathways in Technology (NYS P-TECH) programs sponsored by the college and Ballston Spa Central School District.
The six-year program prepares students for STEM careers through its partnerships between Ballston Spa high school, Hudson Valley Community College, and local industries such as GlobalFoundries.
Eligible students begin in the ninth grade and can earn both a high school diploma and an Associate of Applied Science degree in a STEM field. The program has been very successful and educates students from 19 school districts throughout the region.
Adrienne Snow, Associate Principal of Early College High School Programs with Ballston Spa Central School District, heads the P-TECH program at TEC-SMART. Having been an assistant principal at a traditional high school, she understands the needs of students today and the pressure they feel to meet the frequently changing needs of tomorrow’s workforce.
“I came to the TEC-SMART campus in 2015,” Snow says. “I enjoy being able to interact with students who come here from widely diverse backgrounds all over the state. Here, we provide state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories. We connect them to real-life work situations and feed their natural curiosity while teaching them the skills they need for their futures.”
Deborah Shoemaker is the Associate Dean of Community & Educational Partnerships for Hudson Valley Community College. She works with Snow to get students registered, troubleshoots any issues that may arise during the school year, and coordinates with Snow on any new pathways that are added to the programs.
“These high school students must manage their secondary classwork while simultaneously stepping into the college experience,” Shoemaker says. “It is a challenging program. I support Adrienne and the students to make sure that they have every opportunity to succeed from day one. I have seen amazing work from the P-TECH students at TEC-SMART. It’s remarkable to see these 17- and 18-year-old students making their end-of-year presentations with a level of polish and professionalism that many adults struggle to achieve.”
“Collaboration is key,” adds Snow. “Our partnership with Hudson Valley Community College and local businesses helps us better build our students’ skills and knowledge base. When you think about a traditional college with big lecture halls, I don’t think you would see as close a relationship between professors and students as you see here. We’ve had consistency in our professors since I’ve been here, which promotes a safe environment for students to stretch and grow.”
In addition to Hudson Valley Community College, the program partners with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, which helps with funding, events, and mentorship experiences, as well as workplace tours. GlobalFoundries sets up job shadow experiences for high school juniors through the program, as well as paid summer internships for seniors.
“Businesses provide us with feedback on what they are looking for in terms of future employees,” Snow says. “We use that information to prepare our students for the skills they need. Recently, we had partners from solar industries listening to our students pitch their solar-ideas projects. They received real-world advice from industry experts. This is how a student transforms into a professional, by learning they can’t just throw an idea out and think it will happen. They are learning how to research their ideas and how to do the legwork that will make them successful in their fields.”
Shoemaker adds, “Part of our mission here at HVCC is to make sure we are in touch with workforce needs, and we do that through business partnerships. Many of our graduates from the P-TECH program have job offers before they graduate. We are always looking for mentors for our students and businesses to give feedback on projects. Fostering those relationships is key.”
Companies that make Tech Valley their home know they can count on continuing access to some of the smartest minds in the country to join their teams, well-versed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, right here in Tech Valley. For more information about P-TECH at TEC-SMART, visit www.hvcc.edu/tecsmart and www.bscsd.org/Page/11993.