JOHNSTOWN -- Congresswoman Elise Stefanik spent the day in Johnstown Monday and learned a lot of what has been going on in the Fulton County community during her visit.

Stefanik, who represents the 21st Congressional District, took tours of the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Service's (HFM BOCES) Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) and the city's Fage Dairy plant, and also spent time with county officials at the Fulton County Board of Supervisors meeting at 1 p.m. and at the Fulton County Republican Club's 56th Annual Lincoln Day Dinner at the Holiday Inn.

Stefanik began her day by visiting PTECH at the former site of Jansen Avenue Elementary School.

She engaged the school's officials and students throughout the hour-long tour and left with a positive impression.

"I think that the way we think of education in general is out of date," Stefanik said. "I think technical education programs should be available, not just for this preconceived subsection of students in a classroom, but for students who want to pursue careers in whatever field or industry that the skills would translate toward."

Stefanik, who has spoken against the Common Core model of education used throughout New York state, also praised the PTECH school for offering a different curriculum.

She said the Common Core model requires teachers to focus too much on meeting set goals by state officials and not enough on actual education.

Stefanik followed her meeting with PTECH officials with a tour given by sophomore Taylor Nellis, which gave the congresswoman a first-hand look at how the students are taught and what is available to them at the school.

"I had high expectations when I was prepared to take this tour, but the tour exceeded my expectations," she said. "I'm amazed at the innovation, the focus -- just the way classrooms are set up, the fact that so much of the learning is technology-based. And the strength and partnerships within the business community, that far-exceeded my initial expectations."

She said she has worked on several committees including the House Armed Services Committee and the Education and Workforce committee.

She said through the first committee she is working to ensure that veterans get the benefits they have earned.

Through the Education and Workforce Committee, Stefanik said she is working on matching the education children and adolescents receive with the jobs that are having a hard time finding qualified workers.

"We should be promoting technical training. I was really blown away by my visit at PTECH today -- how close that partnership is with our schools and our business leaders in the community, as well as the community college," she said. "That's the type of approach we need to take going forward to make sure that our kids have the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century economy."

Stefanik was joined by fellow Congressman Chris Gibson at the Lincoln Day Dinner where he was the Keynote Speaker.

The dinner welcomed all local Republicans and honored Tom Daggett with the Charles Hough Award.

Gibson also spoke about his potential run for New York State governor before the dinner.

He confirmed that an exploratory committee is operating as of Monday to look into whether or not it would be feasible for him to run for governor.

Gibson said he knows he will have a challenge running against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whom he expects to be able to put a lot more money into his campaign. But he believes someone else has to take over as governor.

"There is a feeling among some that we can't defeat Cuomo, and some feel we are in decline. And we can't turn that around," Gibson said. "We absolutely can defeat Cuomo, and we absolutely can turn this around. I want to help restore faith in our ability to be self-governing."

Gibson said he has four major points leading his campaign, including broad-based tax relief, cleaning up Albany, a change in direction for education and gun control.

He said if he is elected, the state's residents will be more safe and secure, but they will also celebrate their unity and freedoms.


For The Recorder

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