xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Joppatowne High P-TECH freshmen welcomed with yard signs, personal visit from school administrators

Shomari Zachary, P-TECH coordinator, right, speaks with P-Tech student Na'kya Goode, left, and her mom Erica McLeod , center, outside their Joppatowne home Friday during a quick visit to welcome them to the program. Under a new partnership, Pathways in Technology, P-Tech, Early College High School program, Harford County Public Schools, Harford Community College, and the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground have teamed up to provide 30 high school students with the opportunity to attend high school classes while also earning credit toward an associate degree, at no cost to the students, starting in fall 2020 at Joppatowne High School.
Shomari Zachary, P-TECH coordinator, right, speaks with P-Tech student Na'kya Goode, left, and her mom Erica McLeod , center, outside their Joppatowne home Friday during a quick visit to welcome them to the program. Under a new partnership, Pathways in Technology, P-Tech, Early College High School program, Harford County Public Schools, Harford Community College, and the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground have teamed up to provide 30 high school students with the opportunity to attend high school classes while also earning credit toward an associate degree, at no cost to the students, starting in fall 2020 at Joppatowne High School. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)

Na’kya Goode and Rylen Kahlbaugh were among 30 incoming freshmen at Joppatowne High School who were welcomed to the school’s new P-TECH early college program Friday with home visits by school and program administrators.

Kristina Marzullo, an assistant principal at Joppatowne and the administrator in charge of the P-TECH program, and coordinator Shomari Zachary spent the day traveling through Joppa and Edgewood, visiting the homes of each freshman to greet the students and their families, plus distribute T-shirts and yard signs.

Advertisement

The signs indicate that “a proud P-TECH student,” a member of the program’s inaugural class, lives at that home.

“It shows that they are a tight family, and they have invited her into the [P-TECH] family,” Na’Kya’s mother, Erica McLeod, said.

Advertisement

“It’s very surprising that they reached out to do this,” she said of the gesture, noting that the sign will stay in the front yard because “we are P-TECH proud!”

Joppatowne High is the ninth school in Maryland to serve as a headquarters for P-TECH, or Pathways in Technology Early College High School, and the first in Harford County. The participating students can earn a high school diploma and a free college degree in less than six years, as they will receive “support and enrichment” opportunities during the summer and in extended school day programs.

The 2020-21 school year begins Sept. 8, although all learning will happen online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harford County Public Schools is partnering with Harford Community College and the Army’s Communications-Electronics Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground to administer the P-TECH program.

The inaugural class is made up of students who live in the Edgewood and Joppa areas and applied while eighth-graders at Edgewood and Magnolia Middle School. The “self-motivated” students will take part in their high school classes and earn credits toward an associate’s degree in either cyber security or information systems. They also will be able to connect with area employers through mentoring opportunities, visits to workplaces, skills instruction sessions and summer internships.

The program aligns with the goals of the school system’s North Star program, designed to ensure all Harford high school graduates are ready for a career or college, according to an HCPS news release.

“This is a unique opportunity that we are proud to provide our students,” said HCPS Superintendent Sean Bulson stated. “Partners like HCC and CECOM are essential to ensuring students graduate on track to pursue their chosen career. P-TECH is one illustration of how support from businesses in our community makes a difference to each of our students.”

Larry Muzzelo, deputy to the commander of CECOM, said in a statement that “we are looking forward to mentoring young people here in Harford County and helping them gain a better understanding of APG’s mission for the Army and our nation.”

The partners received a one-year “planning grant” from the Maryland State Department of Education to support the program.

The freshman starting the P-TECH program are drawn from diverse backgrounds, despite living in the same area. The school system plans to open the program to students countywide the following school year, according to Zachary.

“That’s what P-TECH is really all about, is extending those opportunities to the community at large,” he said.

Career and college plans

Student Rylen Kahlbaugh, 14, of Joppatowne, plans to study cybersecurity while in the program. His primary career goal is to make videos for YouTube and earn money based on the number of his followers and video views.

Advertisement

“I was excited for that, to see what I can learn from it,” Rylen said of cybersecurity.

He added that he thinks “I could still do YouTubing and college,” saying he wants to focus on video blogging and gaming for his YouTube content.

His father, Joe, said he is glad to see an early college program such as P-TECH come to Harford County, where he and his family have lived for about two-and-a-half years. The elder Kahlbaugh is retired from the Army and is now a civilian worker at Aberdeen Proving Ground — he was deployed to Iraq while in the Army, specializing in logistics.

Kahlbaugh said his daughter completed an early college high school program when the family lived in El Paso, Texas, and went on to earn a degree from the University of North Texas in Denton, north of Dallas.

“It’s a good experience for [Rylen] — I know what it’s like, and if he works hard he will succeed and make it through,” Kahlbaugh said, describing P-TECH as a “unique opportunity” and a ”privilege” for his son.

Na’kya Goode, also 14, plans to be a pediatrician “because I love kids.” Na’Kya takes care of the children when visiting relatives, plus she cares for her two younger siblings — her great-grandmother also is a pediatrician and a retired Army colonel.

Her mother, Erica McLeod, and stepfather, Desmond McLeod, are Army veterans and civilian workers at APG.

McLeod noted her daughter also had been accepted into the Natural Resources and Agricultural Science magnet program at North Harford High School. That creates an advantage for P-TECH at Joppatowne since her daughter would not have to travel as far to get to campus — once schools reopen for in-person learning.

“P-TECH came through right in time,” McLeod said.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement