Paul Sullivan, Special to the Advertiser 9:07 a.m. CDT August 8, 2016
About 1,300 students are gearing up for the second year of classes at the new Pike Road School on Wednesday.
The system added ninth grade for the fall, which helped lead to additional staff.
“Pike Road Schools is proud to have 27 new lead learners (instructors). This includes special education staff and leaders for an additional grade level. It is exciting to see new faces, and also to welcome back many of our interns and volunteers from last year as employees,” said Kadie Crowell, communications director for the school system.
A new school year also will bring some changes for students and parents.
Some of the changes that will be seen this year include:
- Providing hard copy progress reports every nine weeks.
- Adding a Student Support Interventionist.
- Adding an additional assistant principal who will help with student discipline.
- Issuing letter grades at the end of each course for middle and high school learners (students).
- Adding a gifted/instructional coach to make sure that learners are being challenged.
The initiatives are part of what leadership determined, in working with partners, will help improve the school.
“We want parents to know that their voice is valued and we have worked diligently this summer toward next steps to make PRS the best for our learners,” Crowell said. “We are committed to meeting the needs of every child and challenging them to reach their full potential. We know that the best way to achieve excellence is to have a clear mission, a great staff, parents as our partners and a commitment to learning at every level.”
The expansion of ninth grade also will bring some new offerings for students in several exciting fields.
“One of the most exciting and notable changes will be the addition of a ninth grade and our academy learning opportunities. This year PRS will offer academies in the following areas: Agri-science, arts, biomedical, engineering, and information technology,” Crowell said. “The goal is for learners to find their passion and experience learning using authentic, real-world opportunities.”
Students will pick a field based on their interests. Counselors will help guide students based on their goals, prior course work, and strengths.
“If an academy consistent with a learner’s passion is unavailable, PRS will create authentic learning experiences tailored to that learner’s interests,” Crowell said. “These courses count as electives. Some courses may also satisfy science and math requirements. All courses will follow Alabama Career Technical standards.”
The first year in the academy will introduce learners to the field. Courses will progress with more in-depth learning each year. By the time learners are juniors and seniors they are shadowing real-world professionals in their area of interest, Crowell said.
One instructor said the goal is for students to get close to taking part in real-world work as possible.
“The exciting thing about the engineering academy is that it will give learners the opportunity to explore all types of engineering as they move through the course work. They will begin learning about the engineering design process and then learn how to apply it in a way that a real engineer would. We are taking learning to the next level by giving students an unprecedented look into the world of engineering,” said Shara Wade, an engineering academy lead learner.
The bus system has added two buses and two routes. Coaches and other school staff will ride the buses the first few days of school to establish expectations and help new riders, Crowell said.