“Making students marketable to employers,” is Professor Thomas Duffy’s primary goal as he advises and mentors students in the Norwalk Early College Academy, a collaboration between Norwalk High School, IBM and Norwalk Community College, where Duffy is chair of the Computer Science Department.
The first P-Tech school in Connecticut, NECA provides a pathway for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to not only earn a high school diploma, but also an Associate Degree in Applied Science from Norwalk Community College and a paid internship at IBM in as little as four years. Graduates will have the skills and experience to step into well-paying jobs in the Information Technology (IT) industry, according to Duffy.
“Many students who graduate from four-year colleges have a theoretical background. This program (and community college programs in general) allows students to develop the practical skills employers are looking for,” adds Duffy.
Working in tandem with Karen Amaker, Director of the Norwalk Early College Academy and co-chair of the high school graduation readiness CAN, NECA addresses an important Norwalk ACTS outcome—helping high school students graduate, and help them develop the crucial academic knowledge and the social/emotional skills necessary to meet the demands of college-level work and workforce readiness.
NECA is in its second year with approximately 150 students currently enrolled. Organizers hope to enroll up to 100 more students in the fall of 2016. Applications for the incoming 9th grade class are due January 8, 2016.