VSA’s identity enhances the NECA Class of 2018

Norwalk Early College Academy opened its doors this fall to great fanfare as the first school in Connecticut to replicate IBM’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) model. As part of a joint initiative by IBM, Norwalk Public Schools and Norwalk Community College, almost 100 students will earn their high school diploma and an Associate in Applied Science degree within a six-year timeframe and with the ability to move directly after graduation into an information technology job. The first graduates will leave NECA in 2018 or sooner under banners featuring the school’s identity, created for IBM by VSA Partners.

NECA’s opening follows that of VSA-branded Excelsior Academy in upstate New York, which also opened this fall. NECA is another example of the P-TECH program’s steady growth; from its start in one Brooklyn school in 2011, there are now 27 open across the country today. Twelve more are set to open in 2015 and an estimated 100 schools total are scheduled for 2016—potentially including the first schools in Australia. Such growth has led to IBM establishing ptech.com, a one-stop digital guide with tools, case studies and a roadmap for the school’s first six years (plus an auxiliary planning year before opening).

VSA’s P-TECH identities are typically flexible, with elements that can be used as the school needs; for NECA, that means each component of the identity embodies a core aspect of the school’s mission and reinforces the unique value it offers to students. Designer Emily Hom-Nici created the identity under the direction of Associate Creative Director Lee Zelenak. “We really wanted a multifaceted identity,” said Hom-Nici, “and the N in particular is a clear example of that; the different perspectives reflect the multiple ways a NECA student can learn beyond a traditional education. We wanted it to look technical but youthful and fun too.” The identity hangs proudly behind students, teachers, administrators and even Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy at NECA’s ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this year.

“It’s amazing how significantly the school’s visual branding reinforces the overall culture of college- and career success,” said Grace Suh, IBM Manager of Education Programs. “NECA is housed within the larger Norwalk High School, so being able to showcase the school’s unique identity where our students take classes has great importance. As soon as you see the banners in the hallway, you feel like you are experiencing NECA and all it has to offer.”

Get up to date news on the P-TECH program nationwide, as well as upcoming openings of new P-TECH schools at the Citizen IBM blog. Follow NECA’s program—including updates about its Class of 2018—at the school’s website.