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Zoey Bailey, 15, a freshman at Victoria East High School, wants to be a doctor someday.

Her goal of opening her own practice prompted her to apply to the Victoria School District’s new program: Pathway in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH. The program provides students with a free path to post-secondary credit and experience in a designated field of study. This field of study is currently health care, but the district is expanding it to include two more for the 2021-22 school year.

Education and computer courses are also added to the P-TECH curriculum. Both new programs will be hosted at Victoria West High School, while the health care path will continue to be hosted at Victoria East High School.

The new career goals mean that 90 more students will be added to the program. Each of the new subjects will receive a cohort of 30 students, and the healthcare program will receive its second class of 30.

District officials will host a P-Tech recruiting night for the 2021-22 school year from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Monday at the Victoria Fine Arts Center. Recruitment is for current eighth graders who will enter the program as freshmen.

Zoey is part of the program’s first cohort of students on the healthcare path. She is one of 30 students with the same teachers at Victoria East Secondary School. Teachers integrate all health care into their lessons, whether it is English, math or health.

For the remainder of Zoey’s high school career, she will gradually learn more about the healthcare industry through her foundation and elective classes. She plans to earn an associate’s degree through the district’s dual credit program.

Zoey knew from a young age that she wanted to enter the medical field. So when she heard about P-TECH, she knew she wanted to enroll in the program.

“I wanted to be a part of it because when I was little my grandparents often got sick,” said Zoey, who added that she always felt good about helping others and wanted to make it her career. . “When I’m a doctor, I can be there for (the people). “

P-TECH is the first step in making Zoey’s career dreams come true, she said. She learns something new every day.

“I knew it was going to benefit me in my life for who I wanted to become,” she said. “It will help me a lot to become a doctor.

Students are selected for the program through a weighted lottery, said P-TECH administrator Martin Sanchez.

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds or who are first-generation students see their names entered in the “lottery” more often, Sanchez said. All students are then randomly selected for the program.

As part of the program, students gain on-the-job experiences through classroom visits from industry professionals and the integration of medical knowledge into one of their courses, Sanchez said. Students also have the option of earning their associate degree based on the number of dual credit courses they can fit into their schedule.

“They meet the requirements for their degree, but they also take a vocational and technical training course with a focus on healthcare.”

This year’s vocational and technical training course focuses on the principles of health sciences. Freshmen take the course with Naomi Barker, who is in her first year of teaching after a 10-year career as a nurse.

Barker taught his students the layers of the skin during his Principles of Health Science class on Tuesday afternoon.

During the course, she described the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis and their functions while her P-TECH students actively took notes.

“With 10 years of nursing experience, (the district) felt it would be helpful for students entering the medical field,” said Barker. “We thought that bringing my nursing knowledge and skills would be helpful for the children.”

Barker said the program is a great way for students to learn more about the health field and find out where their passion lies.

“It’s a good program because they focus a little more on these students and on the right path forward in health care,” she said.

Superintendent Quintin Shepherd stated that the programs offered by P-TECH are intended for the community of Victoria. It has several hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care options for students after graduation.

The district has partnered with Victoria College for the healthcare portion of P-TECH, and Shepherd is developing a partnership with the University of Houston-Victoria for more avenues like education.

“It’s something that makes sense for our community,” he said.

Shepherd said he was excited to see how the program continues to develop in the years to come as well as seeing the current class graduate in three years.

“When these kids go on stage, they have an ‘and’, he said. The “and” is an associate’s degree after high school. “

Samantha Douty is the educational reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She grew up in Corpus Christi and graduated from UT-Arlington with a BA in Journalism.

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