Greenport School District

North Fork schools looking to bring vocational training east

Superintendent David Gamberg speaking about standardized test scores in 2011.
Superintendent David Gamberg at a Southold school board meeting in 2011. (Credit: file)

Some courses offered at up-island BOCES campuses could be coming to the North Fork.

David Gamberg, superintendent of the Southold and Greenport school districts, says he’s had preliminary discussions with officials at Eastern Long Island Hospital and Peconic Landing to develop a local nursing assistant program.

In addition to the planned student communications center in Southold, which nearby school districts would share, Mr. Gamberg said he’s exploring the feasibility of creating other courses to help students become college- or career-ready upon graduating from high school.

A nursing assistant program for students could be established by the 2016-17 school year, he estimates.

“This is a golden opportunity for students on the East End to take advantage of facilities right in our backyard,” Mr. Gamberg said, referring to ELIH, Peconic Landing and San Simeon by the Sound Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, all in Greenport. “We could structure a program where they take the required classes like anatomy and then students can become certified and pursue a career in medicine.

“I’d like to not see it only as vocational training,” he added, “but more as a pathway to post-secondary education.”

Bob Syron, CEO of Peconic Landing, described the idea as a “career stepping stone” for students. He said Peconic Landing will be a good resource because it currently has a certified nursing assistant program.

“There will be a tremendous need for health care providers and a partnership between us and the schools is just a no-brainer,” he said. “It’s a great plan to ensure our future in the area of health care.”

Linda Goldsmith, a longtime member of the Oysterponds Board of Education in Orient, described providing vocational training on the North Fork as a “dream.” She said she’d like to see Greenport expand its automotive program to include auto body work and all the districts establish a shared marine biology program.

“Whatever you can bring back here is better,” she said of establishing BOCES courses on the North Fork. “The more we can share the better, so that kids could use those programs as stepping stones to put themselves through in college.”

Mattituck-Cutchogue School District Superintendent Anne Smith said she’s been in talks with Mr. Gamberg and BOCES about expanding educational opportunities, such as creating a agricultural vocational program.

“Anytime we can provide opportunities for students without them having to travel, we’re open and interested in doing it,” she said.

Mr. Gamberg said he’s researching how teachers can receive credentials for the vocational courses and is determining how they would fit in the master schedule.

He said he’s also figuring out how local districts can share programs effectively and what the transportation issues will be.

“It’s better than traveling farther,” he said, “but it has be done in a practical way.”

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