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Collaborative discussion results in a draft system-wide schedule

The purpose of the Natrona County School District’s Academy Based Learning Standing Committee, as outlined by NCSD Cabinet, is: “To collaboratively study academy-based learning, make recommendations to the Superintendent/Cabinet and formulate related communications. Currently focused on high schools with middle school and elementary schools to follow.”
The District defines academy-based learning as an instruction model that “provides a relevant and captivating education for all NCSD students, ensuring they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to compete successfully in a global economy. Academy learning engages our students, teachers, parents, community, industry, and higher education in authentic (real-life) and innovative learning environments. This provides students opportunities to become independent lifelong learners, digitally literate, inventive thinkers, effective communicators, highly productive, and healthy stewards. Academy learning gives them a seamless preparation from high school graduation into college and a career.”

The committee met on November 13 and opened with employee association comments. NCASE reps said they’ve been hearing the following questions about academy-based learning: What is it? How will it affect the current system? Other NCASE members told the group they have been exploring the topic with parents and will forward the names of interested parents to C&I. There were no comments from NCEA, and reps from SEIO and NCAESS were not present.

Next, the committee heard updates from administrators at the secondary level. Shawna Trujillo from Roosevelt High School told members that the academy coaches recently met with her staff, saying it was very good to have their input. Trujillo said at first her staff was focused on logistics, but during their discussions the coaches were able to move past that point and focus on what the new system will teach students and how it will honor what current teachers are already doing. The coaches also spoke about the opportunities that will be available to current teachers in the academy system.

Valerie Braughton at CY Middle School told the committee her school is currently working on incorporating problem-based learning and academy-based learning principles into their unit planning. They also plan to have the academy coaches come to meet teachers soon.

Dean Kelly at Natrona County High School spoke next. Kelly said NC has provided his staff with training about the academy-based learning system, and from that they received many questions. He said the development day was eye opening to his staff. Kelly says NC is also working on developing a 4-year deployment plan of the academy based learning and the new schedule.

NC reported that teachers who have missed the trainings have been coming by to pick up materials – a good sign. Kelly and Kelly Walsh High School Principal Brad Diller both talked about using their leadership structure to help disseminate the information about academy-based learning to other staff members. Diller went on to say that his staff has been looking at incorporating current classes into this new structure and providing a tangible item/product for the public to see.

Mark Mathern, Associate Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, and leader of the meeting, reported that courses and course plans have been developed by C&I Executive Director Kelly Hornby and the academy coaches and forwarded to Casper College to see where CC can fit into the program to “complete” the pathway.

Next, Hornby split the committee into two groups to discuss the system-wide schedule with the intention of developing some common times (start/stop, lunches, etc.) After some time, the two groups reconvened and shared their comments. The group suggestions are summarized here (please see attached photo):

Group 1:

  • Teacher’s day is from 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Student’s day is from 8:20 a.m. – 3:30 a.m.
  • 7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. every day would be teacher collaboration time
  • Student intervention time moved into the 180-minute period
  •  Two lunch periods: 11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. and 1:05 p.m. – 1:55 p.m.
  • Grades 10-12 will have 90-minute blocks, 9th grade would have any variation of 90, 180 and 270 minute blocks

Group 2:

  • Agreed with many of Group 1’s concepts
  • Focused on trying to find a solution to 420 rule problem (420 minutes/7 hours per day) that exists in Group 1’s scenario
  • One solution was to start the teacher’s day at 7:40 a.m.
  • Had an idea to remove the collaboration time on Fridays to give teachers that time “back”


The committee approved sending the above comments and suggestions to the Secondary Core Leadership Group (Superintendent Steve Hopkins, Mathern, Hornby, high school principals) for further deliberation. The principals will then be able to solicit feedback from their staffs.

The next Academy-based Learning Standing Committee meeting is on Wednesday, December 11.

Members in Attendance
NCASE: Brad Diller, Chad Sharpe, Chris Bolender, Danna Anderson, Dean Kelly, Kathy Neely, Sandy Cherry, Scott Winter, Shawna Trujillo, Valerie Braughton, Nicole Rapp
NCEA: Patti Kimble, Erica Peterson
HR Division: Verba Echols
Counselors: Armeda Winter, Marial Choma
C&I Division: Mark Mathern, Kelly Hornby, Cheryl Gettings, Molly Voris, Mance Hurley
Superintendent: Steve Hopkins
Communications: Allen Bruggman
 Recorder: Sarah Prosinski



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This entry was posted on November 21, 2013 by in In Focus.

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