CTE Celebrated at Groundbreaking for the Future Ulster BOCES Career Pathways Academies at iPark 87

CTE Celebrated at Groundbreaking for the Future Ulster BOCES Career Pathways Academies at iPark 87

Recognition of and appreciation for the value of career and technical education as an engine for economic and workforce development was on full display on June 20 during the groundbreaking event for the future Ulster BOCES Career Pathways Academies at iPark 87. United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, New York State Commissioner of Education Dr. Betty A. Rosa, U.S. Congressman Pat Ryan, and Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger joined Ulster BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Jonah Schenker and a group of students who attend the Career & Technical Center (known as young professionals) to discuss the programs and opportunities available to them. They then joined nearly 100 educators, business/industry partners, and federal, state, and community leaders for remarks in the industrial space at iPark 87 which is being renovated to become the home of Ulster BOCES programs. The relocation is expected to happen in September 2025, providing Ulster BOCES with a state-of-the-art, 105,000-square-foot leased space at the former IBM site on Enterprise Drive and serving as an anchor space for the Sustainable Ulster Workforce Innovation Center, a collaboration between Ulster County, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Ulster, Ulster BOCES, and community-based partners.
“Moving Ulster BOCES programs represents a collective commitment to redefining the relationship between education and economic development by centering the work around the future workforce of Ulster County—the students,” said Schenker. “This groundbreaking brings us one step closer to actualizing our vision of equity, access, and belonging for all, and we are grateful that Secretary Cardona, Commissioner Rosa, and Representative Ryan were here with us to mark this milestone.”

After asking several Ulster BOCES young professionals [students] to join him center stage, Secretary Cardona encouraged the audience to remember the faces of the youth and the future opportunities provided to them through several of the nation’s policies.

“The Ulster BOCES Career Pathways Academies, and Sustainable Ulster Workforce Innovation Center, and the Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center—they are transformational. The investment and the partnerships that make today possible are part of this region’s story—part of the State’s story. They are a shining example of this administration’s goals to redefine career pathways and career success,” said Cardona. “For far too long in this country, we have normalized a narrow pathway to opportunity. In this country, we have had a ‘four-year college or bust’ mentality that has really not served our students well. Here at Ulster BOCES, you have been breaking out of that mentality long before you have broken ground here today. 
Commissioner Rosa lauded the innovation, leadership, and “can-do” attitude that Schenker brings to the table as one of the 37 district superintendents who work with the State Education Department, noting the timeliness of the project in relation to the State’s efforts to redefine education and the State Education Department’s goal of increasing opportunities for applied learning, which is something students want. 

“We are also on a venture of redesigning in this state our ‘Graduation Measures,’ and CTE sits right there at the core,” said Rosa, receiving a round of applause. “The beauty of this is that we have been engaging in looking at CTE and what it does in terms of preparing our students, and the standards work becomes alive. It ignites. It's exciting because it becomes applied learning.”  

“I've proudly fought to revitalize iPark 87 since my first day as County Executive – today we’re building on the exciting momentum at this site and sending a message that the workforce of the future starts right here in the Hudson Valley,” said Ryan. “I’m honored that Secretary Cardona could join us to celebrate this landmark investment in Hudson Valley students and families, which has been years in the making; and I want to thank everyone whose tireless efforts made it all possible. My grandfather worked at this site for 36 years when it was an engine of economic growth and good-paying jobs for hard-working families across the region. Now, for the first time in my lifetime, I can envision my two young boys and the entire next generation having that same opportunity.” 

Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger offered similar encouragement for the future. “We're shaking things up in Ulster County because we need to forge new models for education and workforce development that meet the needs of the moment we're in. The relocation of Ulster BOCES Career Pathways Academy to iPark 87 is going to unlock unprecedented educational and job opportunities for its graduates, she said. Noting the collaboration between all the entities involved in the new Sustainable Ulster Workforce Innovation Center, which will also be located at iPark87, she said, “Together with Ulster BOCES, we are creating a hub of workforce development for every age and a runway into meaningful family-sustaining jobs for our people.”

Schenker noted that the move will have a ripple effect on enhancing opportunities for students with different abilities as the additional space at iPark 87 will allow the existing Career & Technical Center in Port Ewen to be repurposed to meet the growing needs of the County’s expanding K-12 special needs population and will support innovative, future-focused programs for them. 

“Our current Port Ewen site will be transformed into a middle/high school campus to serve the growing special education student population,” Schenker added. This new learning space will be both a lab school for our educators to hone their profession, as well as a pre-technical, project-based, process-based learning center to ensure that the same skills and life-ready educational experiences are being delivered to some of our County's most wonderfully complex and historically marginalized students. This will provide students with different abilities more equitable access to robust career education learning experiences and transition planning for viable pathways to employment and post-secondary opportunities.”

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