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Column: WHS courses support all students

BY PAUL KARELIS, District 518

WORTHINGTON — Worthington High School continues to work very hard putting together and offering a wide variety of classes that support all levels of learners.

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Over the years, teachers have continued to explore and expand options offered both in the academic and elective areas. District 518 believes in the importance of providing comprehensive and diverse educational opportunities to its students. WHS offers an impressive variety of course offerings and programs including Advanced Placement (AP), college prep (“Honors”), concurrent enrollment classes, vocational, technological, special education and English as a Second Language (ESL), as well as a large variety of art electives.

The high school’s academic areas — Social Studies, Math, English and Science — present classes and curriculum that will meet the needs of all levels of learners and push those students that plan on attending either a vocational or four-year, post-secondary institution. If WHS does not formally offer a course within the high school facility, counselors will work with students to explore other options to meet their unique needs. These include:

Minnesota Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO). Eligible sophomores, juniors and seniors at Worthington High School may enroll at Minnesota post-secondary college on a full or part-time basis. Students may take classes for both secondary and post-secondary credit.

The purpose of the program is to promote rigorous educational pursuits and to provide a wider variety of options for students. WHS works in partnership with Minnesota West to accommodate the students that qualify and desire participation in PSEO.

New CIS (College in Schools). The College in the Schools program at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities is a concurrent enrollment program serving high school students, teachers and schools by increasing access to college learning, supporting excellence in teaching and strengthening high school-university connections. We currently offered two CIS classes in Agriculture and one in Social Studies.

These (CIS) College in schools programs are taught by qualified high school teachers during the regular school day. CIS teachers are appointed as U of M teaching specialists, and are prepared and continuously supported through professional development provided by the University faculty from the sponsoring academic departments.

College in Schools programs:

n Give students first-hand experience with the high academic standards and increase workload typical of college education, as well as the personal responsibility required to be successful in college study.

n Provide teachers with the ongoing, University-based professional development that is directly related to the content, pedagogy and assessment of the University of Minnesota courses taught through the CIS program.

n Strengthen curricular, instructional and professional ties between high schools and the U of M.

Administrators, teachers and community members need to work together to find ways to supplement programs that ramp up and engage our students for future success. Today’s classrooms are technology-smart and becoming more challenging for students and staff.

For the past 10 years, a great debate has swirled around everything that matters in public schools — from what to teach and how to teach it, to how to measure whether students are learning what we and our government officials want them to learn. Public education has been a lightning rod for those who worry about America’s economic future and will continue to drive school systems in different directions.

The vision of how public education should operate and what we should expect the students to achieve is still a work in progress. Here at the Worthington High School, we must redefine school days so we have time to plan and collaborate among staff and analyze the data that we have collected on students to make improvements and meet the needs of all learners. Change may come from different pivot points in a high school setting. We, at Worthington High School, are prepared to meet the coming challenges.

Paul Karelis is Worthington High School’s principal.