West Shore Junior/Senior High School (Melbourne, FL). To meet increasing college and career readiness requirements, West Shore offers students a Diploma of Distinction. To earn this diploma, a student must complete 28 credits (beyond state requirements); 25 hours of service learning each year; demonstrate leadership experience through clubs, sports, or activities; and receive at least one scholarship offer to a post-secondary education. In addition to completing at least three acceleration courses, all seniors must enroll in either Advanced Communications Methodology, Science Research, or AP Capstone Research. As part of the college readiness process, students complete aptitude/ interest inventories, plan a college success path, and research future careers. Then students create high school resumes and document their progress in a post-secondary admissions portfolio. Seniors engage in a culminating senior project that requires primary research in an academically challenging topic, submission of research papers, and presentations to a board of judges that include parents and community professionals. In 2017, 100% of the 147 graduates earned the Diploma of Distinction, enrolled in post-secondary institutions, and received scholarship offers totaling $5 million.
Chenango Forks High School (Binghamton, NY). Chenango Forks High School opened its new STEAM Academy in January 2018. The Academy offers individualized pathways that address students’ diverse career interests, learning styles, and schedule. The Academy partners with several colleges/universities to offer Advanced Placement and career opportunities, including Spanish for the Professions, Residential Construction, Early Childhood Development, Computer Programming, and Mastering the Message. At Chenango, the only certified Work Based Learning High School in Central New York, students may earn the additional graduation credential of the Career and Technical Endorsement designation. Through the STEAM Work-Based Learning Cooperative Opportunities, 11th grade students shadow professionals, while 12th grade students participate in an on-the-job co-op with local businesses. Chenango Forks gives students a wide variety of options to acquire the essential skills and knowledge needed to flourish in today’s world.
Barrington High School (Barrington, RI). The Allied Arts department includes courses in Business Education, Engineering and Technology, and Family and Consumer Sciences. The current departmental goal is to develop career paths that integrate validated learning across disciplines in an effort to meet student needs. National and state standards anchor the curriculum and courses are developed through direct communication with local post-secondary institutions and industry. Student learning is enhanced by technology in our classrooms and labs, including an award-winning television production studio and a design and manufacturing lab equipped with 3D printers and a laser cutter. Our growing Internship Program is designed to enhance students’ college/career readiness and experience in a pathway of their choosing.
Haldane High School (Cold Spring, NY). Haldane offers seniors the option for structured internships with local organizations and businesses. Meeting criteria set by the administration, these internships enable students to gain hands-on experience in the professional world and instills a strong work ethic and responsibility. A related program for freshmen is Pathways to Success, a weekly lecture series in which professionals from the community discuss their careers with students. Volunteer speakers include filmmakers, musicians, attorneys, corporate executives, and professionals in education, public service, and non-profits. This program helps students appreciate that no two paths to success are the same, while helping them envision their own unique path.
New Mexico School for The Arts (Santa Fe, NM). NMSA’s dual-credit agreements enable students to take courses for free at Santa Fe Community College and other four-year colleges in the state. Mastery arts training at NMSA are not “arts enrichment” programs, but full pre-professional, skill-building arts curricula. It is the only public, arts-focused high school in New Mexico with a Residential Program that gives students from across the state access to NMSA’s rich, highly motivated dual-track, rigorous academic and mastery arts education in Music, Dance, Theater, and Visual Arts. Every student who comes to NMSA is admitted into one of these four “majors,” based on passion, promise, and aptitude in that art form.
NMSA students spend a normal school day in academic studies and at 2:00PM turn to their arts studies; they receive two-three hours of daily artistic training in their art discipline: after four years of study, every NMSA student will have accumulated approximately 1,980 hours of rigorous training, specialized coursework, and practical application.
The Dance Department cultivates student physical, creative, and analytical growth through intensive dance training and education. Its curriculum is rooted in Classical Ballet with additional focus on Modern Dance, including Contemporary Dance, Dance in Community Settings, Dance Composition, Dance History and Culture, Gyrokinesis, Music for Dancers, Partnering, Pilates, and Jazz. Dancers take classes with guest teachers and choreographers, work with guest artists, and explore cross-disciplinary collaborations, site-specific and staged performances, research and creative projects, and field and study trips.
The Music Department, one of New Mexico’s premiere high school music programs, offers pre-professional courses to prepare students to enter competitive, post-secondary music programs. Coursework includes Music Theory, classic piano, ear-training, Composition, and improvisation. Every student in the Music Department receives weekly one-hour Applied Lessons with individual coach specialists in their area of study. While overall Departmental emphasis is on classical music, students experience other genres through studio classes, coaching from faculty and guest artists, as well as ensemble opportunities in chamber, choral, jazz, and orchestral groups that regularly perform in public. Close partnerships with professional organizations give students regular access to performances of internationally acclaimed soloists and world premieres.
The Theater Department offers a diverse and rigorous curriculum to train the entire body, voice and mind, foster independent thinking, and prepare emerging artists for higher education and professions in theatre arts. Courses include voice and movement for actors, character development, playwriting, Shakespeare, scene study, theater history, acting for camera, directing, and monologue preparation as well as clown, elements (LeCoq), Alexander technique, Meisner, stage make-up, masks (larval, Commedia dell’Arte, etc.), cinematic mime, and viewpoints. An ambitious production schedule gives every student numerous performance and production opportunities.
Visual Arts students learn the fundamentals of visual communication by creating, presenting, and responding to art and design. Instructional emphasis is placed on skill development, critical thinking, risk-taking, craftsmanship and clarity of intention. Students graduate with a rigorous grounding in visual fundamentals, the ability to plan, organize, and execute self-directed projects, the ability to collaborate, and a strong sense of self and community. Disciplines include drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and media arts; art history and visual literacy courses supplement studio- based learning, as do exhibitions and collaborations with community partners and internships with professional artists. Students create and exhibit a body of work and final portfolio.
Hereford High School (Parkton, MD). The Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program identifies and supports students in the “academic middle” as they enroll in AP classes and seek admission to competitive, four-year colleges and universities. AVID students receive mentoring from AVID upperclassmen, college tutors, and their guidance counselor. Trained AP instructors advance students’ skills in using college-level texts and guide students through a year-long research project. Flexible scheduling allows students to enroll in math classes concurrently, resulting in greater success across all levels.
Students who excel in science, AP Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science are offered additional rigor and opportunity for college credit. The few students who have not passed the High School Assessment (HSA) in Biology as ninth graders commit to a yearlong remediation program that targets key concepts tested on the exam. Since the Biology HSA has been a graduation requirement, Hereford’s pass rate has exceeded 99%.
AP social studies course offerings include US Government and Politics, World History, US History, Economics, Psychology, European History, and Human Geography, all designed similarly and in accord with College Board expectations; department teachers share resources to ensure all students achieve and excel. The World Languages curricula align with the National Proficiency Standards (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages). Offering three modern languages (Spanish, French, Chinese), levels 1 through 5/6-AP, courses prepare students with language skills to compete in an increasingly global society. Integrated Performance Assessments support students’ real world use of the language by exposing them to authentic listening and reading materials and placing students in real-life writing and speaking situations. Students who take AP language courses routinely place in 300-level language courses at the university level.
Overseen and supported by the Science Department, the Agriscience Department, the only one in Baltimore County Public Schools, maintains a modern barn, a greenhouse, and 1.5 half acres of animal pasture. Students gain a solid academic foundation and acquire career skills related to carpentry, plumbing, electricity, welding, animal husbandry, horticulture, and landscape/turf management while developing work ethics and life skills they can readily apply to the workforce or build on in two-year and four-year post-secondary programs. The School to Career Department facilitates in-school and offsite student work experiences. Students learn personal, professional, and technical skills by writing resumes and practicing interview skill, developing personal learning plans (measured formatively through site visit observations), and workplace skills. The department also orchestrates Senior Interview Day, enabling all seniors to practice professional writing and interviewing skills with local experts. This wide initiative is supported by the English Department, which guides students through the related writing process.
Hereford’s Visual Art program teaches creative thinking and problem solving and guides students to develop an individual artistic voice. Beginning with an introductory class accessible to students at all knowledge levels, the program continues with elective courses in photography, digital arts, and painting and drawing. The digital arts curriculum includes animation, filmmaking, illustration and graphic design using professional grade software, and the photography program includes digital photography as well as a traditional darkroom.
The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology [GSMST] (Lawrenceville, GA). GSMST’s signature educational practice is our required 4-year internship experience. In the ninth grade, students attend quarterly Speaker Series events where they participate in the most rigorous and informative career day possible. We bring 20-30 working professionals each nine weeks from our partner organizations to school for 90 minute presentations about STEM careers and the college and education required to get there. Students sign up for the speaker of their choice, such as an engineer, doctor, FBI agent, computer programmer, or lab scientist. These events expose our freshmen to the reality of these STEM jobs and how they might get there one day. Our tenth graders experience two events: In the fall, they take part in a Job Readiness Workshop where they learn to write a resume, dress for and carry out an interview, respond to impromptu questions, and more; in the spring, they make site visits to work locations of some of our partners. We load the entire tenth grade class on buses and take them for 3-hour, behind-the-scenes tours of our partners’ work facilities so our students can see who works in teams, who works in a cubicle, how the site of an electrical engineer differs from a chemical engineer, etc. Our juniors complete a semester-long internship, JFE, in which they spend 5-10 hours a week for 14 weeks working with a site mentor and a faculty advisor, taking on actual job assignments and producing output for the host organization. JFE students present their work in a 10-minute Symposium presentation in April. Our seniors complete a year-long internship, SCE, in which they spend 5-10 hours a week for 28 weeks working in a fashion similar to what they did in JFE. Each student writes his or her senior thesis about the SCE experience, maintains a complete ePortfolio, and presents his or her work in a 20-minute Capstone presentation in April. While completing our internship program, some students clearly identify the career field that is right for them, while others begin to eliminate ones that are not right for them. There is great value (and perhaps great financial savings by not paying for the wrong college degree) in both outcomes. By successfully completing our internship experiences, students are prepared at the highest levels for college, career, and the kind of competition they will face in scholarship interview panels, co-op auditions, and that very first job interview. Our students are prepared and they are able to represent themselves and their learning with clear and precise language and skill.
School of Health Professions (Dallas, TX). The campus has positioned itself to create a college going culture by offering only Pre-AP and AP options in the majority of its core courses and enrolling students who meet entry requirements into dual credit courses. Implementing these practices helps the campus maintain a rigorous curriculum and its status as a high performing CTE high school. In Career and Technical Education (CTE), the School of Health Professions provides opportunities for students to acquire the foundation for a career or continued studies in health care, with a prescribed set of courses to complete at each grade level. Every student’s program of study culminates in a hands-on nine-week spring semester internship during their 11th grade and/or 12th grade year. At the completion of their 12th grade internship, students are eligible to take a national certification exam aligned to their specific 4-year pathway of study, if available, in: Dental Assisting, ECG Technician, Patient Care Technician, Pharmacy Technician, Phlebotomy Technician, Medical Office Assistant and ServSafe.
The career cluster pathways students select from are clinical medical assisting, communication disorders, culinary arts, dental assisting and technology, medical laboratory, pharmacy technician, therapy careers and veterinary careers. Other unique aspects of the campus are that 100% of the career pathway instructors are highly qualified and certified in their program areas and have the equipment and resources at their disposal to conduct hands-on instruction; this prepares students physically and emotionally to successfully complete their off-site internships. For the dental assisting program, the campus maintains and operates an on-site dental clinic that serves the community and allows students to complete internship hours under the apprenticeship of a licensed dentist on campus.
All but one internship occur during the instructional day and transportation is provided by the campus, solving the two major barriers to participation by disadvantaged students: afterschool transportation and/or work or family obligations. Participation has enabled some students to receive paid summer internships. Besides increasing their marketability on their resumes, the real-world application adds another level of preparation for the students’ upcoming national certification exams. Once passed, these exams position students to become eligible for jobs in that field immediately after high school graduation. Some students use this benefit to pay for their post-secondary education.
Crofton Junior-Senior High School (Crofton, NE). Technology and business classes at CHS share staff. Technology classes include Introduction to Digital Design, Digital Media I & II, and Advanced Software Applications. These semester-long classes meet daily for 90 minutes. When students have a particular interest in computer programming, efforts are made to provide independent study opportunities. Business classes offered at Croton High School include Personal Finance, Accounting I, and Accounting II. These semester-long classes also meet daily for 90 minutes.
Crofton High School also has an extensive and highly acclaimed agriculture program. Agriculture classes available are Introduction to Agriculture, Agriculture Business Management, Economics and Agriculture Management, Animal Science, Large Animal Management, Natural Resources, Advanced Natural Resources, Plant Science, and Nursery and Landscaping. Introduction to Agriculture is a foundational semester class for freshmen to explore a wide variety of agricultural topics.
Skilled and Technical Sciences is the final area in which Crofton High School offers classes. Students are able to enroll in Introduction to Technology, Small Engines, Building Trades, Welding, Machining, and Robotics. These classes are a semester in length meeting daily for ninety minutes. In STS classes, as with all Crofton’s Career and Technical Education classes, students are provided hands-on experience to ensure the development of essential life and career skills.
Brownsville Early College High School (Brownsville, TX). Ninth grade students are enrolled in one semester each of Computer Programming and Money Matters. The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Computer Programming class uses computer technology to examine the changing adaptations of business processes to new technologies and business models and provides knowledge of structured programming techniques and concepts. Students analyze the social responsibility of business and industry in regard to ethics, safety, and diversity in society and the workplace as they relate to computer programming. The CTE TEKS-based Money Matters course helps students investigate global economics with an emphasis on the free-enterprise system and its impact on consumers and businesses. Students apply critical-thinking skills to analyze financial options based on current and projected economic factors. The CTE TEKS-based Robotics course, offered to ninth and tenth grade students, introduces engineering. Students learn about history of robotics, career information, and certifications related to this field. Students work together to build their own robots and compete with peers at regional, state, and national competitions and are encouraged to join the CTE sponsored Technology Student Association.
Interested students continue their study of Engineering through the Engineering Design and Presentation class that covers sketching, designing, and creating 2- and 3-dimensional models. All technology high school classes follow the modified block schedule. The one semester TEKS-based Professional Communications Course (Speech) gives tenth grade students opportunities to address controversial issues in personal, social, and professional life. The course develops sound critical thinking and sharpens communication skills using current topics of interest with an emphasis on public speaking. In the Debate I course, tenth grade students develop skills in argumentation. This one-semester TEKS-based course helps students acquire life-long skills for intelligently and confidently approaching conflict and professional communication. Both classes follow the modified block schedule.