At this point I was on such I high after seeing and hearing the students positive reaction to The Academies at New Milford High School that I still wanted to engage them further to really feel the pulse of the student body, and feel it I did. As I roamed the halls in the morning and the cafeteria during lunch, I was approached by excited students inquiring about which academy they wanted to be a part of, courses that they would like to take, and the possibility of enrolling in more than one academy. This had to be the best part of my day on Thursday and Friday. Their excitement about what we do at NMHS really provides me with a sense of fulfillment in terms of the collective work being done by all levels of staff.
Here is an overview and rational for the academies:
- Student interest: We want to create a culture of learning that focuses on their interests and passions.
- National need and global demand for qualified graduates.
- Concentrated studies in career-focused areas connected to college majors and the 21st Century Workforce.
- Increasing rigor and accountability across the board for all students.
- Re-branding of certain courses. For example, English 11 will now be called Exploration in Contemporary American Works (this looks much better on a transcript that English 11).
- Open to ALL students. It should be noted that this is optional, but available to all students (there is no G.P.A. requirement).
- Special designation on high school diploma and colored cords to be worn at graduation. The students will determine what those colors will be.
- Authentic learning experiences aligned to each academy where credit will be awarded. These include internships, independent study, travel, and work-related study.
- Ability of all students to apply to take a Virtual High School Course (we only have 25 seats per semester).
This is just another example of the changes occurring at NMHS to better meet the diverse needs of all of our learners while preparing them for success in the 21st Century. The challenge I have made to my students is that their lives at NMHS should not be about finding themselves, but instead creating themselves.
So what do you think about our academy structure for 2011-2012? Are there any components that you suggest we change, add, remove?