The P-TECH at Sam Houston High School Project

February 7, 2019

Public Information Officer


Enrollment goal is 150 students

The application season will end this week for the very first students applying to earn the St. Philip's College Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology Cybersecurity Specialist degree in San Antonio's historic first Pathways in Technology Early College High School, known as P-TECH at Sam Houston High School.

St. Philip's College is the college education partner with industry and San Antonio Independent School District in the opportunity that connects SAISD students at the Cyber P-TECH at Sam Houston High School with degreed education, National Security Agency credentials and practical industry experience that leads to employment, responsibility and status within San Antonio which is the hub of the Western Hemisphere's second largest cybersecurity sector.

To give parents and students a look into the significance of the opportunity during the present season when 2019 education, recruitment and intake decisions are made, P-TECH students at SPC are joining a corporate family that includes exceptional colleagues in the wildly successful St. Philip's College business unit with a US News & World Report National Bronze Medal Ranking. That St. Philip's College business unit is the St. Philip’s College Early College High School with San Antonio Independent School District, and its first 17 cybersecurity students graduated with degrees and alumni status in May of 2018.

Students at Sam Houston now have the choice of applying to enter a program connected with a bevy of opportunities in a multitrillion dollar global industry.

The P-Tech program at Sam Houston High School launched as a school within a school model and began accepting applications Nov. 26 from incoming 9th grade students throughout Bexar County for the 2019-2020 school year. It will ultimately become a full grade 9-12 grade high school, with a new grade being phased in each year, just as the wildly successful St. Philip’s College Early College High School with San Antonio Independent School District did when it started.

The program is led by Ashlyn Barrientes, P-TECH coordinator at Sam Houston High School. 

“Our goal for enrollment is 150 students,” said Barrientes. “Currently, we have 58 applications on file with 29 of those indicating Cyber P-TECH as their first choice. Students have the option to select up to three Choice Schools and then can rank them one, two or three for preference order,” said Barrientes.

In an enrollment arc similar to P-TECH’s, the St. Philip’s College Early College High School with San Antonio Independent School District experienced a record volume of student applications for enrollment in 2017, and officials have experienced a similar consumer interest during the late November 2018 through early February 2019 application season. What was really validating for the school was the 2017 application interest when the school’s first class began preparing to graduate in 2018---roughly five times the original volume and public interest shown in 2014. 

Dr. Derrick Thomas has been principal of that school since it opened in August 2014 on the campus of the 120-year-old college, providing students with a blended high school-college experience at a high-performing institution.

"Applications during our excellent early years were roughly 120 or so. Applications in 2017 exceeded 600. I was advised that in the college world, application numbers traditionally rise in anticipation of the graduation of the first class for a new college. That’s what we’ve experienced," Thomas said in November. 

In the P-TECH model, schools partner with Texas institutions of higher education and regional businesses and industries, giving students post-secondary education and workforce training opportunities. Cyber P-TECH at Sam Houston will partner with St. Philip’s College, within the Alamo Colleges District, which has been designated for many years as a nationally-noted National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. 

ABOUT THE P-TECH PROGRAM: Through St. Philip’s College, Cyber P-TECH students will have the opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology Cybersecurity Specialist degree. The degree will prepare students to design, implement and secure computer networks. Students with this degree will be able to install security software, monitor networks for security breaches, respond to cyber-attacks and gather data and evidence to be used in prosecuting cybercrime. As early as students’ second year in the program, they will be able to earn an Information Technology industry certification. As high school juniors, they will have the opportunity to earn CompTIA Linux and CompTIA Security certifications. By the fall of their senior year, they will be able to earn an Information Technology Cybersecurity Specialist Level 1 certificate. As early as the spring of their senior year, students can earn associate degrees specifically tied to the cybersecurity industry. Students also will have the opportunity to learn from industry partners and gain real-world experience through mentorships, job shadowing, internships, professional skills development and field experiences. Students who complete the program will have priority in interviewing with these employers. 

The anchor industry partner is Accenture Federal Services, which has more than 30 years of cybersecurity experience serving clients who are at the heart of the nation’s priorities in defense, intelligence, public safety, health and civilian issues – including every cabinet-level department within the federal government. Additional industry partners are expected to sign on in the coming months.

Cyber P-TECH will be open to students across Bexar County through a lottery system. The application period for the first cohort of 9th grade students began Nov. 26, and open house dates will be announced this fall. For more information, visit