WESTFORD – Students taking Advanced Placement courses at Nashoba Valley Technical High School now have a statewide nonprofit agency in their corner.
Starting with the 2015-2016 school year, Nashoba Tech is participating in Mass Insight Education’s AP STEM and English program.
The program encourages more students to take Advanced Placement classes in an effort to increase their confidence and acquire the academic skills they need to succeed in college.
Nashoba Tech is one of only four vocational-technical schools taking advantage of MIE’s programs — the others are Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School in Charlton, Putnam Vocational-Technical Academy in Springfield, and Franklin County
Technical School in Turners Falls.
John Schneider, the director of the college-success campaign for MIE, called Nashoba Tech a “vanguard school.”
“There is a lot of interest among vocational-technical schools to expand and broaden their AP courses,” Schneider said, “but Nashoba Valley Tech is ahead of the curve in helping students excel in AP classes.”
According to Schneider, MIE “provides support for teachers and for students so the students will be more successful in AP classes and, as they move on to college, they’ll be more likely to enroll, persist and graduate.”
Nashoba Tech AP teachers attended a weeklong training seminar at Bridgewater State University over the summer.
Bill Toomey, who teaches AP Science classes, found the training so helpful, he attended a second week.
“This is an absolutely fabulous program,” Toomey said of MIE. “Our students are going to be so much better off from participating in this program.”
Mass Insight Education offers three Saturday study sessions this fall, and Nashoba Tech AP students will be expected to attend the sessions in the AP courses they are taking.
In addition, MIE, provides staff coaching year-round at member schools.
MIE is funded through a combination of state grants, funds from the member school districts and private donations.
“It’s a really good example of a public-private partnership,” Schneider said.
Nashoba Tech has signed on with MIE for three years. After that time, the school will have the option of continuing with the program.
Nashoba Tech Superintendent Dr. Judith L. Klimkiewicz stressed that the school’s mission is to prepare its students for whichever pathway they choose upon graduation, and said Mass Insight Education’s program is another step along those pathways.
“We need to prepare students for both college and career,” Dr. Klimkiewicz said, noting that each year, several Nashoba Tech students participate in Dual Enrollment their junior and senior years, taking on a full-time college schedule, and that some even graduate with an Associate’s degree as they are graduating from Nashoba Tech.
“I think the world is disillusioned that technical students don’t need college,” she added. “We want our students to rise to the challenge. I hope that the additional course work will prepare our students for the rigors of a collegiate program that they might not have been prepared for previously.”
Nashoba Tech offers Advanced Placement courses in American History, Biology, Calculus, English Language and Composition, Physics, and U.S. Government and Politics, and – new this year – Chemistry and Computer Science.