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home : features : features February 6, 2016

1/22/2014 10:32:00 AM
HUSD offers choice: Match student to signature school
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Sue Tone

Humboldt Unified School District hopes to provide parents and students with more opportunities by creating "signature" schools - each school to offer its own unique focus with a distinctive program. Some schools are still in the idea stage, with Bradshaw Mountain High School as the first school to present its signature for governing board approval.

BMHS will begin its rigorous academic program, the AP Academy, in the fall. The two middle schools offer an iChoose enrichment and intervention program, and STEAM curriculum that includes science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

Bradshaw Mountain Middle School Principal Jessica Bennett said her school's main strengths are the relationships between students and staff, the AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination), and fifth-hour support with three levels of math and two levels of reading intervention, and iChoose enrichment classes that she wants to expand to include forensics, poetry, or culinary, as examples.

The school currently offers honors English 7 and 8, and advanced math classes that include high school algebra. Bennett said she hopes to establish an Honors Leadership Academy and add science and social studies honors classes during the next 1-5 years, with training for teachers added each year.

At Mountain View Elementary School, the STEAM program continues, and Principal JoAnne Bindell said she is including a piece on the Outdoor Habitat.

"We will continue to offer science, technology, math (including inductive thinking), arts, International Games, and engineering classes. This session we purchased a new program that encompasses all the components of STEM," she said.

The new program provides 20 units, which includes classes in designing wind-powered objects as students learn about wind energy, designing knee braces, and learning what optical engineers do.

At Humboldt Elementary School, Principal Cole Young said he is studying multiple options.

"We are currently evaluating the merits and compatibility of our school to match one of the following: a Leadership Academy, Core Knowledge School, Civic Responsibility Focus, or a Foundational Skill Model," Young said.

A sub-committee will review and pair/package what the school is doing currently to which signature value adds the most to the culture of student achievement, he added. The committee will choose two signature profiles, and present them to parents and staff. After deciding on one and figuring out how to implement it, they will present it to the board for approval.

Coyote Springs Elementary School also has a committee that has met monthly since September to explore options and research programs such as 4-H, Agriscience, Farm to School, Outdoor Education, and Community Gardening. All are programs that would increase the use of the school's already established outdoor habitat.

The committee decided on a concept that would support all of these into a Sustainability Program, and presented it teachers in December. Teachers and staff "overwhelmingly" concluded that this program would be a positive one for the school, Principal Candice Blakely-Stump said.

Lake Valley Elementary School also implements a STEAM program, along with project-based learning. For the past two years, it also utilizes a school-wide gifted cluster model.

"If we were to go to this model, we would require specialized staff in the gifted area with professional development for all staff," LVES Principal Tusanne Cordes said.

Currently, students choose a project-based class on Thursdays that last for two to six weeks.

"We have seen a lot of interest in the students with this short amount of time," Cordes said. "We will meet over the next month and we have a goal of the end of February for a decision."

Jan. 26-31 is National School Choice Week, and many public and charter schools will hold events to showcase its accomplishments and future plans.

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