By John Bernhardt
At Andes Central School, we need your help. Our community is blessed with talented residents who have a great reservoir of expertise and passion for many topics. To date, our school has barely scratched the surface in tapping this important resource. We are hoping you will offer your talent to help us get three initiatives off the ground during the upcoming school year.
Many times, the teachers and staff at ACS worry about our client’s apparent lack of motivation and passion for learning. Frankly, students often treat school and school tasks as something done to them, not something they do. This year, at Andes, we would like to offer our senior high school students opportunities to pursue areas of interest that might fall outside the regular school curriculum. Each Thursday afternoon, we have scheduled the last hour of the day for students in grades 9-12 to pursue a topic of interest under the direction of a school or community master, someone with rich experiences and passion for a select topic. In effect, we are stepping back to colonial times by instituting a modified apprenticeship program using learned adult community members.
Here’s how it works. First, we canvas the Andes school, community, and surrounding area to find folks who would like to contribute to our education program by working for a few hours a week with a select group of youngsters. At the same time, we survey our students to find out things they would like to learn, subjects not governed by the normal trappings of school.
For example, we might have a handful of young people who express an interest in learning to weld. We would try to match those learners with a community member with skills and expertise in that area. Under the direction of the adult, these youngsters would meet each Thursday for an hour over a specified period of time participating in a mini-course on welding.
The sky is the limit regarding topics. All that is needed is a learned adult, a group of interested students, and time: time to explore, time to investigate, time to learn. Hopefully, we might find students learning yoga, gourmet cooking, stenciling, karate, screenplay writing, scrapbooking, playing bridge, photography, or any of hundreds of interests. The length of each course would depend on the availability of the teaching adults and the entry-level knowledge of the students.
In addition, in an attempt to make the senior year more relevant, rigorous, and result driven, ACS will be modifying our program requirements for seniors. This year we will be introducing a Senior Project to our high school program.
The Senior Project is a culminating exit program demonstrating a senior’s ability to write, speak, apply knowledge, problem-solve, and use real world skills like risk taking, time management, and organization. The project includes four components: a long term research paper, a learning experience that asks seniors to apply the knowledge they gained during their research to design, develop, and produce a related project, a portfolio showcasing the pieces of student work that make up these efforts, and a presentation, judged by a panel and presented to the community as evidence of their completed work.
Students pursue topics of their choice. Youngsters are matched with mentors, master teachers who have related knowledge of the subject the students select. These master teachers are matched one-on-one with a senior and meet regularly to help guide their senior through the stages of the project. The master teachers are critically important during the student’s production of the project. Once again we are sounding the call looking for folks who might like to serve as a mentor for a student.
Seniors will be asked to produce artifacts that record and safeguard memories of their final year. As part of that process seniors will take a media communications class that includes operating the school radio station, publishing a monthly school newsletter, and producing the yearbook.
And we will be bringing back dramatics to Andes. The seniors will participate in a drama class charged with producing some form of dramatic presentation and a school-wide musical. We are hoping folks with talent and expertise in this area will also help out.
If you would like to take part in a special interest mini-course, serve as a mentor to a senior completing their senior project, or help us re-start dramatic learning experiences at ACS fill our the form below and mail it to ACS, PO Box 248, Andes, New York 13731 or call John Bernhardt at 676-3167. We appreciate your help.~