Smaller Learning Communities
High school is changing. In a global society where career opportunities reach across national borders and job competition continues to intensify, the way in which children are educated needs to evolve and grow in order to meet the demands of a new, ever-changing landscape. To that end, many high schools across the country are exploring alternatives to traditional methodologies.
One such alternative is the implementation of Small Learning Communities (SLCs) in which large schools are transformed into smaller, close-knit neighborhoods where students stop being a number and start having a voice, and educational standards are enhanced through teacher collaboration.
Through SLCs, students develop close, personal relationships with both peers and educators alike. Additionally, the SLC model allows students to pursue their interests and passions in an academic environment that establishes the interconnectedness and importance of a child’s educational experience. Despite being referred to by many different names, SLC’s are critical in providing students with the personalization necessary for each child to flourish.
SLCs at Central are called academies. In this model, students are housed in three distinct academies.
- Incoming freshmen will enroll in an exploratory Freshmen Academy designed to encourage a “voyage of self-discovery” as students seek to identify their academic strengths, interests, and goals.
- Students entering grades 10-12 are able to select between two thematic academies: the Academy of Arts and Humanities, and the Academy of Business-Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (BSTEM). Each academy includes teams of teachers from math, English, social studies, and science content areas who work together in an interdisciplinary approach to ensure both personalization and academic rigor.
The mission of the freshmen academy is to create student-centered communities that implement relative, rigorous curricula and develop strong relationships, both student-to-student and student-to-staff.
Freshmen Academy Overview
“Exploration” is the primary focus for Central High School’s incoming freshmen, whereby students seek to discover their academic interests, strengths, and passions as a way of establishing a framework for future academic pursuits both at Central and beyond. Within the Freshmen Academy, students remain with a common cohort of students and teachers throughout the year. This structure allows for greater personalization of instruction, and also greatly enhances academic depth and rigor. The Freshmen Academy is divided into two teams: the Black team and Gold team. Each team consists of a core group of instructors from three distinct disciplines: science, social studies, and language arts. A fourth subject, math, is also closely aligned with each Freshmen Academy team. Prior to advancing to tenth grade, students will have the opportunity to learn more about the offerings provided by the other two academies and their related strands.
The Business-Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (BSTEM) is designed for students whose interest in technology is centered on basic business/economic principles or for those students whose interest in technology is based in applied sciences.
Students in this academy will have multiple opportunities to experience entrepreneurship, data collecting, original research, field trips, speakers, and projects / exhibitions. Communication skills play an important role as they support student confidence in identifying, gathering, synthesizing, and evaluating information from multiple sources. Abstract thinking is used to critique solutions to problems given business or scientific criteria and constraints.
Academy of Arts and Humanities
The Academy of Arts and Humanities is designed for students whose primary interests center around essential questions pertaining to our humanity: our diverse histories, our ways of expression, our values, and our aspirations.
Students entering this academy seek context in a global society and attempt to understand the differences and commonalities that exist between peoples across the planet. The Academy of Arts and Humanities explores the essence of human experience.
For those seeking an exploration of the human identity through an interdisciplinary approach, this academy is an outstanding option. The academy is designed to challenge and inspire students as they seek meaning in various forms of the arts, media and human expression. Designed to fully prepare students for post-secondary success, the Academy of Arts and Humanities combines core areas of study such as mathematics, language arts, social studies, and science with a variety of other electives central to a fine arts and humanities course of study. Students will exit this academy with effective communication skills, a heightened awareness of cultural literacy as well as a deepening sense of what it means to be human.