PHOENIXVILLE >> Two new partnerships between the school district and area colleges and businesses aim to help students get a head start on their futures.

The school board heard two presentations at last Thursday’s meeting geared at giving students new opportunities for learning in and out of the classroom.

The first program is called Bridge to Employment, which is a partnership between the district, Montgomery County Community College and Johnson & Johnson that helps young people build solid futures by introducing them to a broad array of careers in health care, and by providing them with enhanced academic and real world experiences, according to a press release. In fact, Johnson & Johnson donated $100,000 to the district to run the program. The second program is called the Delaware County Community College Early College Program, which will allow juniors and seniors to complete one year of college while still in high school and positions them to earn an associates degree within one year after high school graduation.

“Part of our credo is help the communities in which we work,” said Tom McCann, a Johnson & Johnson representative, which has a business location in Wayne, Pa. “As we started to look into this process we reached out to (Superintendent Alan) Fegley, (Phoenixville Area High School Principal Craig) Parkinson, to see if there was an opportunity to partner for this program. Based on our discussions we’ve been very happy so far.”

Between 35 and 50 students will have the opportunity to participate in the Bridge to Employment opportunity during their sophomore through senior years. Bridge to Employment programs targets middle of the road students with academic potential but who have barriers to success. The program strives to increase the number of youth enrolling in higher education and pursuing careers in health and sciences. Program activities will be targeted to students’ needs and will focus in the areas of academic enrichment, career readiness and exploration, and higher education preparation and exploration. Students will work approximately 6-8 hours per month on two activities per month.

The program will offer students a chance to explore their gifts and talents over a long period of time, said board President Dan Cushing.

“Thank you for choosing Phoenixville to partner in this,” he said.

Students will have the opportunity to job shadow employees in their field of interest, and will see how the company takes products through the global design process out to market. Students will then present a project at the end of the program, McCann said.

Admission to the Delaware County Community College Early College Program would be based on a dual-enrollment application, high school transcript and a placement exam. Students will have the opportunity to select one of seven programs including: business administration, general business, emergency management and planning, mechanical engineering, graphic design, photography and studio arts. Courses will be offered at the district and on the college’s campus with transportation provided (specific courses will determine the location) the release states. Students will pay $30 per course at the high school, $80 per credit at the college or $200 for the EMT program. The college will hold an informational meeting next month, according to the presentation.

The district will incorporate the new college program while also expanding the number of Advanced Placement courses it will offer students, Fegley made clear.

Board members seemed pleased with the new opportunity, with board member and Delaware County Community College alumnus Kevin Pattinson expressing his appreciation.

“Thank you for partnering with Phoenixville,” he said.

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