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BOCES expands career embedding programs in Cortland County

Tom Magnarelli
Phil Grome and Colleen Viggiano of OCM Boces speaking in Syracuse.

Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Boces is expanding their career-embedded programs and opening a new high school in Cortland County. This comes as a high percentage of students in Cortland County attend career and technical education programs.

This year, OCM Boces started early childhood care and physical therapy career-embedded programs in Cortland County. That means juniors and seniors in high school are able to go on rotations at physical therapy clinics and child care centers, get on-the-job training and earn college credit. Similar programs started in Onondaga County three years ago.

Phil Grome, the director of career and technical education at OCM Boces, said a recent report showed that 35 percent of high school students in Cortland County will go into one of their programs compared to only eight percent in Onondaga County. The report was presented at a FOCUS Greater Syracuse forum recently.

“They are working in an actual industry setting," Grome said. "They are working side-by-side with professionals. They have many mentors. They have an opportunity to work on equipment and work on real world problems that really make a difference. It’s an on-the-job interview for these students.”

Grome said there is demand nationwide for jobs in trade industries such as automotive technology, construction and welding. He said one of their business partners, Drivers Village in Cicero, is always looking to hire more technicians. He also anticipates high demand for physical therapists.

"They're getting exposure to the clinical settings and also the clinical settings have an opportunity to meet and interact with our students," Grome said. "It gives them an edge in terms of future employment but also in getting into some of these very competitive schools."

As part of OCM Boces' efforts at innovative ways to get students ready for careers, they will open a new non-traditional high school in Cortland in the fall of next year. It will focus on technology, collaboration and team projects.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.