PSLA at Fowler focusing on career and technical education

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - Latest numbers show that the graduation rate in the Syracuse City Schools has struggled to reach 61 percent. 

The 61 percent is an average, but there’s one school in the district that is already at 90 percent-- ITC, which focuses on career and technical education (CTE).

A second CTE high school in the district is poised for the same success: the new Public Service Leadership Academy (PSLA) at Fowler. 

Brittany Mazzaferro, the first-ever certified cybersecurity teacher for any high school in the state, brings her unique knowledge to the table at PSLA-- and it’s well received by students. 

“They're really into it, always engaged, it's so nice to see them, and they're so excited about it. I couldn't even imagine teaching another subject because they love it, they're excited for it,” Mazzaferro said. “When you're passionate about something and you love it, they are so into it, like when I give them a lab, the next day, they come back and they've gone 10 steps beyond what I told them.” 

There’s a demand for this type of work, too, just waiting for qualified young people. This field is just one among dozens of career opportunities offered by PSLA at Fowler. 
“You are more prepared than other people are and you have a better chance of getting jobs than other people,  because a majority of the things we learn here is to prepare us for the career areas that we want,” said senior Ehblu Htoo.

Htoo and junior Noel Torres Rodriguez  both want to be police officers. Student Brianna Phillips wants to be an FBI profiler, Dhruvi Patel, a dentist. 

All these careers are in the first responder category, and each of these students are taking college-level courses in their chosen field. 

The seniors in that group will be the first to graduate after completing the full PSLA at Fowler sequence, and it's quite a sequence. 

The PSLA students have a choice of four academies-- those students are in the first responder academy. Mazzaferro’s students are in the homeland security academy, which includes cybersecurity and other careers. 

PSLA  also offers a military science academy and an entrepreneurial academy, with courses in cosmetology, barbering, and the electrical trades.   

PSLA and ITC are not alone--  all five Syracuse high schools offer specialized career training, with certifications and college credits along with the high school diploma, and two dozen different programs with 1,300  students enrolled so far.  

Besides cybersecurity, PSLA  teachers and programs in geo-spatial technology and forensic science are also the first of their kind to be approved by the state of New York for any high school.    

They're expecting approval soon for the drone technology and unmanned aerial systems program.  

Click here for more information on CTE programs. 

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