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Educators report on Nashville trip

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 April 9 meeting had no association representative comments.

Next, Nancy Johnson and NCHS Assistant Principal Ron Estes reported on their visit to Nashville that they took to learn about incorporating Special Education (SPED) into the Academy system. Johnson said the visit was well organized and the group was able to see quite a bit. She particularly enjoyed the concept of a Freshman Academy. Johnson said every SPED student selects an Academy and then participates in pullouts when they need to. She said the culture of inclusion in Nashville was something to aim for here. Estes said the programs appeared to be very structured and from what he observed in Nashville, there could be a need to increase staff members for freshman-focused purposes within the Academy framework here at NCSD.

Associate Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Mark Mathern asked Johnson and Estes what their thoughts were on Nashville’s rule that all students must select an academy. NCSD’s program will be an interest-based decision. Is there a way to incorporate SPED students here considering it’s a choice?

Estes told the group the community connections built in the Nashville academy system are extremely important.

Roosevelt High School principal Shawna Trujillo said it’s important to make the academies more available to students who are entering high school.

Next it was asked how to share feedback from this meeting with NCSD teachers. Staff meetings, department meetings, coaches attending staff meetings to field questions, provide staff with example programs from around the country so they can see things in different ways were some of the ideas mentioned. Trujillo said each school within the Nashville system had a coach-like position to be a go-between the staff members and the community. A blurb in the Supt News that highlights different programs around the country so staff members can visualize what their role will look like within the academy system was a thought that was mentioned. The need for education on what systems are in place for students who are interested in academies right now and more specific deployment plan is needed.

Hornby reminded the group that there is a deployment plan that needs to be followed. Patti Kimble said it’s not a question of when or how, it’s a question of “Who?” will be the one that will communicate with staff members. As a result of this conversation, the framing document will be brought back to be shared to the group.

Hornby proposed that Estes lead a group of people that have seen the Nashville model to develop a document of pros and cons and next steps for our academies here.

Next, Patti Kimble led a financial literacy presentation. All students must have 1 credit of financial literacy/civic responsibility. There is a piloted course that satisfies this requirement. The developed course will teach: income, budgeting, banking, saving, credit, investing, taxes, and other financial topics. This course will be presented to the Board soon for approval. The course would require an additional 2-3 fulltime employees. The new course isn’t necessarily a BANR/Academy course, but a high school course.

Next, the group discussed what the civic responsibility credit should look like. It was mentioned that it needs to be spread throughout activities/classes, not pegged into an isolated unit/class. The group asked – What are the courses that we have right now that embody civic responsibility? Who is tasked to identify those courses where it is already addressed? Chad Sharpe and the academy coaches will work together to identify those answers.

Kelly Hornby said that the committee should task a group of people to develop a framework of how the courses are going to be designed within the academy system.

The next Academy-based Learning Standing Committee meeting is May 14.

Members in Attendance
NCASE: Amy Rose, Brad Diller, Chad Sharpe, Chris Tobin, Danna Anderson, Kathy Neely, Ralph Obray, Ron Estes, Scott Winter, Shawna Trujillo, Valerie Braughton, Nicole Rapp, Kent Thompson
NCEA: Patti Kimble, Erica Peterson, Jennifer Leimback
NCAESS: Michelle Blake
C&I Division: Mark Mathern, Kelly Hornby, Nancy Johnson, Mancy Hurley
HR Division: Verba Echols
Counselors: Amanda Annis
Communications: Allen Bruggman
Recorder: Sarah Prosinski



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This entry was posted on April 10, 2014 by in In Focus.

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