Faced with “Challenge,” Parkway students find solutions

Students Help Companies Solve Problems

Impact of PSP’s Support

What is a great school? Effective schools come in different shapes and sizes, but they ultimately prepare students for what comes after. Whether students pursue college or a career, the best schools give them the learning skills, and the confidence, to succeed.

With that in mind, Parkway Center City Middle College is reimagining the four years we call high school. Every student at PCCMC has the opportunity to earn a two-year associate’s degree and a high school diploma, with zero tuition cost. They also will have opportunities to engage in real-world learning through a variety of career exposure experiences.

This past month, 18 companies, government agencies and nonprofits challenged groups of PCCMC students to develop solutions to problems the organizations face. Over the course of four weeks, the companies provided each group a problem and mentored the students, which included welcoming students to their offices. Students then presented their solutions to judges from across the Philadelphia community at a public event on January 10. During the presentations, students described how the networking they were able to do while participating in the Challenge will lead to internships, summer work or, eventually, full-time employment with the participating companies.

A transformation grant from PSP helped to make the “Parkway Challenge” possible. PCCMC leveraged PSP funds to create an experiential learning coordinator position. The coordinator, Brea Smith, designed the program and established the relationships with employers needed to ensure students had a quality career education experience. Going forward, she will expand the school’s career offerings, including internship opportunities for every student. As PCCMC grows its enrollment (and budget), it will have the ability to make Brea’s role permanent.

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