Principal’s Corner: Exciting ways to serve students | SierraSun.com

Principal’s Corner: Exciting ways to serve students

Joanna Mitchell
Principal’s Corner
North Tahoe student AJ Hurt is on the U.S. Ski Team.
Submitted photo

North Tahoe High School is a special place. You walk on campus and you immediately feel the Laker pride. We have a strong reputation for excellence which has led to a 30 percent increase in enrollment in the past five years!

How do we do it? We have amazing teachers and programs to meet the individual needs of our students, and a strong support system of staff, parents, and community members.

One way we meet our students’ needs is through our well-known Independent Study and Ski Academy. This program supports students who have a passion outside of school that requires a modified schedule for intense training and/or travel during regular school hours.

While the majority of our academy students are competitive skiers, other students participate in the academy for activities such as horseback riding, swimming, rock climbing, soccer, dance, and even piloting airplanes! Past students have used the Independent Study Academy to support passions and pursuits such as race car driving, BMX racing and sailing.

Collaboration and support from Cold Stream Alternative make this flexible program possible for our students. In our Independent Study Academy students have one to three periods scheduled as independent study so they can build training time into their day.

In place of these periods, students take independent study classes through Cold Stream Alternative, Sierra College or an approved online course provider. Students who do not need to train during the day but need to travel in order to compete can also participate in independent study support without a modified schedule.

Our Independent Study Coordinator, Laura DesLauriers, provides academic support and helps students navigate the requirements of online independent study courses they may be taking including the Cold Stream Alternative independent study courses. She also proctors missed exams, helps students organize missing work, and communicates with parents and teachers.

One current academy student, AJ Hurt, is on the U.S. Ski Team and has competed in World Cup Races and won several Northern America Cup races. She is the only skier on the U.S. Ski Team attending a comprehensive public high school. Additionally, Stefan Fellner competed in the Junior World Rock Climbing Championships for the past two years in Russia and Austria.

At North Tahoe High School, we want to ensure our students are college and career ready by the time they graduate, and we offer a wide variety of rigorous classes to challenge and prepare them.

Our Career and Technical Education Pathways are a great example. We offer an Engineering Pathway as well as a Food Service and Hospitality Pathway. We recently transitioned to the Project Lead the Way curriculum for the Engineering Pathway. The first level is Introduction to Engineering Design where students learn problem-solving skills by utilizing the process of design.

Students also learn industry standard CAD skills and practice fundamental science, math, and communication skills. In the second level, Principles of Engineering (honors) students again utilize the process of design and learn basic principles of physics and machine programming to build and analyze simple machines, structures, and robotic automation.

The Engineering Technology Pathway can be extended at Sierra College with the mechatronics classes. We can also offer students an AP Computer Science class when student interest supports it.

In our Food Service and Hospitality Pathway, students first focus on all of the basic elements of commercial food preparation. In the second level, students focus on more specific aspects of food preparation. In this pathway, students participate in career-related activities such as resume/portfolio building, chef demos, college/career field trips, nutrition-based community outreach for middle schoolers, ProStart culinary competition, and our career fair.

A student competition team has formed this year, and students are attending the ProStart Bootcamp at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Napa. This pathway articulates with courses at Sierra College in Nutrition/Health. Through their courses, students earn the California Food Handler Certification, the ServSafe Food Allergens Certification, and the ProStart/California Restaurant Association Certificate of Competency.

As you can see, North Tahoe High School is a special school where students can design a schedule to meet their individual needs and participate in a comprehensive high school experience. With 15 Advanced Placement classes, two complete Career and Technical Education pathways, five different art and music electives, and independent study options to choose from; students can achieve their individual academic needs in a close, supportive environment.

North Tahoe truly is a small school community with large school offerings!

Joanna Mitchell is the principal at North Tahoe High School