Nashua, NH – For many students, summer serves as an opportunity to catch up on their learning to prepare for the upcoming school year. The Nashua School District has been running the Power Scholars Academy each July since 2015 to help students in grades 1-8 be ready for the fall. This year, the district worked with Nashua Community College (NCC) to add a new dimension to the Academy, focusing on career exploration and how young students can set and work towards a variety of career aspirations. NCC faculty and staff were frequent volunteers in the Academy classrooms this summer, offering guidance and real-life examples about how learning can lead to a wide array of career opportunities.
NCC agreed to regularly participate in the program in 2018 and has been providing guest speakers for kids in grades 5-8. Subjects have included a wide range of career areas including STEM fields, criminal justice, business and administration and culinary arts. The academy was developed in partnership with the YMCA of Greater Nashua with the shared goals of increasing engagement and exposure for youth, getting them excited about their future and encouraging them to excel.
“This was our second year of partnering with Nashua Community College to bring career exploration to over 100 students. NCC has played an important role in the Power Scholars Academy, educating young learners about what it means to be an engineer, or a chef, all the way to working in the criminal justice field. Going off to a big university can sometimes feel unattainable or scary for students who may not come from backgrounds where this is the norm. NCC has given our scholars the chance to see what opportunities surround them within Nashua in a very attainable way,” said Casey Apfelberg, 21st century site coordinator for the Nashua School District and a volunteer coordinator for the Power Scholars Academy.
The Power Scholars Academy is geared towards economically disadvantaged kids who may be falling behind academically. Students who participate in the program are identified through a referral process and then have the option of signing up for the program. While it follows a summer school format, it is not a credit recovery program and includes unique features such as the opportunity to hear from faculty who teach in programs that help students prepare for jobs available in the Nashua community and beyond.
“We see participating in this program as an impactful way for us to help take care of and contribute to our community. At NCC, we have a wide range of faculty who can tell compelling stories about people who regularly answer the question ‘what do we want to be when we grow up’ with examples of how they found a career that they thought might be unattainable but turned out to be well within their reach,” said Vance Poteat, professor and chair of the NCC computer science department.
In addition to Poteat, NCC professors that participated in the Power Scholars Academy were David Dinwoodie, criminal justice program coordinator, John Knorr, culinary arts program chair and Trish DiLorenzo, school of business program coordinator. The 2019 program was held at Nashua High School North and was open to all Nashua residents – It ended July 29. NCC plans to continue to participate in the Power Scholars Academy and will once again be involved in the summer of 2020.
Photo caption: Nashua Community College professor Trish DiLorenzo speaks to the students about careers in the business field and her experience during the Power Scholars Academy on July 29.
About Nashua Community College
Since 1970, Nashua Community College has been successfully meeting the educational needs of the Greater Nashua area through providing a high quality two-year, post-secondary education. The college partners closely with area industries that provide students with a unique perspective in their fields of study, allowing for a real-world experience to further their academic journey. Students can choose from a variety of associate degree and certificate programs, with six of their programs now being offered online. Nashua Community College is a member of the Community College System of New Hampshire. The seven community colleges in the system are committed to working with businesses throughout the state to train and retain employees to develop a robust workforce across all sectors and embraces the “65 by 25 Initiative,” which calls for 65 percent of New Hampshire citizens to have some form of postsecondary education by 2025 to meet future workforce demands.