Herkimer County Students Take Part in Liberty Partnership Program Summer Sessions at SUNY Poly

SUNY Polytechnic Institute recently held a variety of summer programs for Herkimer County students as part of the Liberty Partnership Program (LPP). This comes after SUNY Poly was awarded more than $1.4 million from the New York State Department of Education through a five-year Liberty Partnership Program grant in March to serve hundreds of students in the region who currently attend grades 5-12, engaging them in a mixed-model school- and after school-based effort, which introduces  the students to hands-on, STEM-based concepts and supports their continued interest in related careers, for which SUNY Poly provides a wide range of exciting preparatory programs.

In two of this summer’s sessions, students learned how to build a self-driving car.

Students participated in sessions where they learned how to build a self-driving car from SUNY Poly Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology Dr. Jiayue (Joyce) Shen and learned tabletop game board design from Matthew Powers, a professor at Herkimer County Community College.

Overall, the initiative seeks to facilitate positive outcomes and decrease the chances of students deciding to drop out of school. To meet this critical goal, the program recruits and selects qualified students to participate; employs family engagement and case management strategies; and engages students in career and educational goal setting, civic-minded projects, and after school and summer activities. The grant enables SUNY Poly students to serve as mentors and provide Liberty Partnership Program participants with information about various vocational careers they might choose. Participants include students from Little Falls City School District, Herkimer Central School District, Central Valley Central School District, Dolgeville Central School District, Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District, and Mt. Markham Central School District.  

SUNY Poly Community and Behavioral Health major and rising senior Eva Fuess, a New Hartford native, served as the program’s research assistant, helping in the classroom as their “personal cheerleader,” especially when a project may not be going their way. The tasks align with her career aspirations of being a social worker at either a middle or high school.

“I love being around middle schoolers, which is not something a lot of people say,” Fuess jokes. “I think what I’ve enjoyed most this summer is making a connection with the students. For them, having an adult in their lives in their academic setting that is supportive, closer to their age is beneficial. I love getting them hyped up for projects. Watching them succeed is so rewarding.”

This LPP grant complements a recent SUNY Poly award for which Interim Dean of the College of Health Sciences Dr. Joanne Joseph and Dr. Veronica Tichenor, SUNY Poly Professor of Sociology, received $750,000 from Herkimer County as part of a Herkimer County System of Care Expansion and Sustainability Project grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The effort stems from a larger grant awarded to Herkimer County which aims to enhance school-based mental health services, proactively identify areas of concern, and provide trauma-informed care for children who are involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. This past grant has enabled the evaluation of the overall project by providing quantitative and qualitative data analysis. 

For questions about future LPP programs at SUNY Poly, contact Dr. Joanne Joseph at josephj@sunypoly.edu.

Matthew Powers, a Herkimer County Community College professor, talks to students about designing their own board games.