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Divide into two academies proposed: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Academy Business and Humanities Academy

On January 29, 2013, Maumelle High School unveiled its new 21st Century vision to the public. The Maumelle business community, MHS parents, and those investigating educational options for their children were invited to attend the workshop from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Maumelle High School Fine Arts Center.

After researching best practices of high performing schools across the nation, MHS unveiled its plan to re-structure its existing infrastructure into wall to wall career and college academies. The restructuring plan is based upon the belief that high school should be an experience that ensures every student is career and college ready upon graduation.

The restructuring plan is based upon two national models – the National Career Academy Coalition and Southern Regional Education Board’s High Schools That Work. Both models are proven to be effective in raising the academic standards, providing students with the hard and soft skills 21st Century employers seek, providing students with opportunities to earn employment certifications that make the student more marketable, providing students with an enriched curriculum connected to careers of interest, and providing students with maximum opportunities to earn collegiate credit while still in high school.

According to Principal Becky Guthrie, “High school should prepare students for college and careers.

High School students should perceive high school as a last shot at a free education. Every course taken in high school should propel a student closer to the career of their dreams.”

Beginning with the Class of 2017, next year’s incoming freshmen will choose between a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Academy or a Business and Humanities Academy. Each academy will operate as a small school within a school and be serviced by a different set of faculty members.

Each academy will offer several career programs in conjunction with rigorous academics. Both academies will offer on-level and Advanced Placement courses.

In addition, MHS is working with area universities to offer concurrent credit. Concurrent credit are courses taught by a university-approved MHS instructor in which the student simultaneously receives credits towards high school graduation and collegiate hours toward a degree. “Too many students drop out of college during the first year. However, research shows that students who successfully earn college credit while in high school have a much higher college completion rate than their peers,” Guthrie said.

Furthermore, each academy will offer certifications for employment. Guthrie adds, “College is not for everyone. Students earning employment certifications while in high school increase their earning power even without a college degree.”

The academies and programs of study for 2013-2014 were selected by the MHS staff after researching the outlook of the future job market and conducting student interest surveys. The STEM Academy will introduce students to careers in bio-technical engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, architectural engineering, digital communications and software exploration. The Business and Humanities Academy will introduce students to careers in business, marketing, banking, education, and the arts. MHS hopes to expand the academy concept in 2014-2015 to include the biomedical sciences.

Guthrie said the restructuring of MHS is not limited to the implementation of career academies. “What occurs within the classroom walls is where the rubber really meets the road,” she said. During the 2013-2014 school year, project-based learning will replace traditional instruction for freshmen students.

Students will be engaged in learning academic curricula through critical thinking activities and electronic

research in “real-life” simulations.

“Students need to see the direct link between what they accomplish in the classroom with the skills they will need to be successful on the job,” Guthrie asserts. “In order to re-structure how we teach, we will need to build strong relationships with area businesses for guidance.” MHS has already planned its first annual MHS-Maumelle Area Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Feb. 18 to launch school-business partnerships.

According to Guthrie, “This is an exciting time for progressive change for Maumelle High School!”

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