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Program Thrives with Johns Hopkins Mentors

Johns Hopkins Medicine

March 1, 2018


Swimming laps in the pool at East Baltimore’s Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Alvin Winn often thinks about how, exactly, his lungs function. “I’m on the swim team,” the 10th-grader explains. “It makes me think a lot about breathing and what happens when people have difficulty with it.”

At 15, he’s on a path toward a college degree and a job in respiratory services at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

One of almost 100 Dunbar students enrolled in the school’s fledgling Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program, Alvin, like his classmates, is already working toward an associate’s degree in the health care field from Baltimore City Community College (BCCC).

“After that,” says Alvin, “I’m finishing college.”

The P-TECH program at Dunbar is designed to create clear pathways to both higher education and employment. Students in the program graduate from high school with a no-cost associate’s degree by augmenting their regular high school courses with community college classes.

Piloted in a New York City school in 2011, P-TECH provides a model for schools across the nation. High schools work with community colleges and corporate partners to craft a curriculum aimed at a specific set of skilled jobs identified by the corporate partner.

No particular test scores or academic records are required for admission into P-TECH. However, parents must commit to supporting program requirements by, for instance, making sure their kids keep up with their homework, get to school on time, and participate in weekend and summer P-TECH activities.

When Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels toured the original P-TECH high school in Brooklyn in 2011, he imagined how the model might work in Baltimore. Daniels and leaders at Johns Hopkins Medicine identified four tracks for skilled, entry-level health care jobs that require training and a two-year college degree. Five years later, working closely with Maryland governor Larry Hogan, Johns Hopkins launched the state’s first P-TECH program at Dunbar High School.