October 22, 2009


Workers find chance at second career

BOCES program offers training in jobs from health care to cosmetology


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Collin Turner of Ithaca learns how to draw blood under the watchful eye of medical assistant instructor Pam Jacoby at the OCM-BOCES Center for New Careers.

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Pat Roach and her fellow physician’s assistant students were learning Wednesday how to insert a needle into a person’s arm and draw blood.
They practiced at Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES Center for New Careers on a machine that looked like a human arm.
Roach is 53 and lives in Groton. Laid off from her job at BorgWarner Morse TEC in Ithaca just over a year ago, she has turned to the health care field for her future.
“My father is a retired doctor and I have cousins who are nurses,” she said. “Health care is a field where you can always get a job. There’s a lot of opportunity.”
The BOCES center provides training in such fields as cosmetology, pharmacy technician, physician’s assistant, nursing, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
It also helps students who left high school early to get their general education diploma. Those who want to choose a different path can get a high school local degree through the external diploma program.
The Center for New Careers has settled into its new classroom and office space at the McEvoy Center off Route 13, having moved in June from the BOCES building on Port Watson Street in Cortland. The BOCES alternative junior high moved from the McEvoy Center to the Port Watson Street facility to be with the alternative high school.
Roach was among 10 students in Pam Jacoby’s class. The youngest was 18.
Down the hall, nine students reviewed literacy exercises in Lori Pallone’s general studies class as they prepared to take the GED.
Danielle Drake, 17, of Cortland said she was catching up on her senior year of high school by focusing on math. She said she dropped out of high school in Florida when she turned 16.
Drake said she had done 60 of the 100 hours of classes necessary to take the GED.
She is interested in nursing. BOCES offers a licensed practical nurse certificate.
“I like taking care of people,” Drake said of her future in nursing.
Another student in Pallone’s class, Robert Barlow, 20, said he dropped out of Cortland High School at 18 because “I got tired of school, tired of getting up early.” He came to BOCES after spending time in jail for stealing cars.
“School is easier now, I can take my time on the work,” he said.
Barlow is aiming for a job in the construction field.
“Students in my class are refreshing their skills so they can enter a training program,” Pallone said. “Many of them lost their jobs and discovered they need a high school education to get a better job.”
The external diploma program allows students to obtain a high school diploma through courses based on assessment of knowledge instead of tests. It is aimed at older students “who have acquired their academic skills through life and work experience,” according to BOCES publications.
Ann Ludke, an assessor and advisor for EDP students, said the program allows people beyond the traditional high school age to learn at their own pace.
Asked why some students take years to finish the diploma, she said, “It’s life. Students can be dedicated but then a divorce comes along, or a child, or a job. They pull back because school is not a priority at that time. Then they come back.”


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