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Monday, March 14, 2011

Looking Around The Corner

Despite not knowing what the future holds, we can maintain our orientation by holding fast to our vision and values. This commitment will serve us well no matter what unfolds in the days and weeks and months ahead regardless of the economic trials and tribulations that await us. Our vision is focused on providing opportunities for learners at all ages and stages to meet their potential. Our value is centered on optimizing the benefits of a school with an enrollment that is low enough to cultivate caring relationships of breadth and depth between and among staff members and learners. We will remain small and think BIG.

The New York State Department of Education has approved our proposal to offer on-line classes in a manner that will be cost effective and still meet certification requirements. This decision, together with a $10,000 donation made to the school by a businessman who encouraged me to use the money to "plant seeds" in Green Island like I had at my previous work assignment, will allow us to expand our learning opportunities and provide classes from among a menu of nearly 200 different courses. This will enable our high school learners to extend themselves and enhance their learning portfolio as they prepare for competition with graduates of other high schools for admission to the college of their choice. Transcripts will be more robust and attractive to college admission representatives. This will permit us to convert idle time in study halls into unique and productive learning experiences. The donation means we can increase opportunities in spite of the reduction in state aid. The donation will meet the expenses associated with training a teacher and a site coordinator necessary for the program's infrastructure, as well as offer us 25 "seats" per semester for learners who meet expectations and responsibilities required of the virtual high school on-line courses.

But this is only one thrust in a strategy to expand instructional possibilities in the near future. We need to develop a school-to-work program that will create four 10 week internships for our seniors. This series of internships would place seniors in shadowing experiences designed to afford them a close-up view of potential careers. We would need to train a staff member in developing and the program and adjust their schedule so they could have the afternoon to coordinate the many different relationships with workplace personnel.

Additionally, we must engage in partnerships with the many colleges in our area so that our seniors could avail themselves of the chance to take college classes during their last year in high school. This would largely rest on our ability to schedule classes required of seniors in the morning so that they could be released to either internship programs or college classes.
The virtual high school classes can begin as early as this coming September. The last two proposals will need time to arrange the school's master schedule, train staff, and prepare mutually beneficial relationships with area workplaces and local colleges.

Beyond our objective to enrich learning experiences of our high school learners is the goal to persuade existing learners enrolled at Heatly to remain at Heatly instead of transferring to other private or charter schools in the area. The loss of learners deprives us of state aid (and consequently results in concomitant budget cuts that eventually have a negative impact on other programs) and increases our transportation costs (we are required to provide transportation to resident learners who enroll elsewhere, so this added expense also reduces our budget and weakens programs). Together, these two side effects of learners transferring out of Heatly shrink opportunities for those who remain.

We owe it to all learners to respond in a proactive and convincing fashion that asserts our value and vision.

1 comment:

  1. I am so pleased that NY approved the proposal to offer online courses! All three of the initiatives you mentioned in this blog will really help to expand opportunities for our learners to improve their knowledge base and work readiness skills. I am hoping it will also serve to motivate them to look beyond the walls of Heatly and to envision what their futures might be like. This may also give some of our students who are considering leaving something to look forward to if they choose to stay. Thank you for sharing this news!!!