Future looking bright for area schools | SierraSun.com

Future looking bright for area schools

The goal of this column is to pass on the good things happening in our local schools. For me, an appropriate place to start was to have a conversation with two friends of mine who are on the board of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District ” Bev Ducey and Kristy Olk.

I asked them to tell me five positive things going on in our schools. Before I could shake a stick they had presented me with pages of ideas. Then we sat down to talk about them, or at least I was sitting down, because they were both too excited about all the stuff going on to remain fully seated for long.

So what did Kristy and Bev come up with?

– Sierra College just received a grant for $150,000 for career awareness and exploration programs in the North Tahoe and Truckee middle schools. The goal is to make education more relevant to the future careers of students by building career awareness right into the middle school curriculum.

Features include providing career focus nights for both students and parents. Long term, the program may help students decide what they want to be when they grow up. In the short term, excitement about a career may help students stay focused on learning.

– In addition to the grant above, starting this fall Sierra College will offer college courses to high school students during the school day at North Tahoe and Truckee High Schools. Students can earn both high school and college credits while learning about college-level academics and perhaps what field they would like to pursue.

Ducey says that one of her goals is to build a strong partnership between the district and Sierra College, which in a few years will bring a brand new campus to Truckee.

– North Tahoe High School will schedule collaboration time for all teachers in the 2006-2007 school year. Two years ago this system was instituted at North Tahoe Middle School and it has been highly effective. Collaboration time allows teachers to plan together and make sure they’re all on the same page for teaching what works best.

– There’s an exciting new effort to work with local businesses on internships and training for high school students. For example, the superintendent of the school district, high school principals and shop teachers have been meeting on a monthly basis with the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe to develop a carpentry internship program. This on-the-job program will train students how to be carpenters. Not only is it assumed that some of the students may learn a worthwhile trade, but students may also become interested in other building-related fields, such as architecture, engineering or design. A similar program is being developed in the culinary field to train chefs and other food service personnel.

– This year the North Tahoe Middle and High Schools are taking over the humongous fall ski swap previously run by the Tahoe Community Nursery School. Not only will it be a fundraiser for the schools but students will be co-heads of the committees with adults so that they can learn what it takes to put on something as massive as this one.

– Many members of the local business community are interested in becoming active partners with the schools in developing a 7th through 12th grade career exploration program. The goal is to create a win-win program where business people get much-needed, well-trained, courteous employees and students get to learn what is really required to work in the cold, cruel, real world.

– Kristy Olk said, “I am really excited about the clear community priorities that surfaced out of the Education Matters effort. The school board will now have a clear blueprint with which to make decisions. In the next year we will look forward to more community participation as we develop plans to achieve our priorities.”

– While some students may not be too excited about it, the Web-based ARIES communication system now being implemented district wide will allow teachers to enter their grade book on the computer. This will give parents the opportunity to access their child’s grades and see if they have turned in their assignments. Teachers will also be able to post assignments on the system so students who missed class can log onto the site to see what needs to be done. Now students can actually find out what the homework is without calling all of their friends (sorry kids) and parents can tell if the kids actually have been assigned homework or not (sorry kids).

Good stuff doesn’t happen in the schools without lots of effort from parents, teachers, community members, businesses, and of course, those pesky students. Everyone has worked together to make improvements in our schools and will continue to do so in the future.

A new middle school was recently completed in Truckee and a new high school and middle school will open up in just a few weeks from now at North Tahoe.

The future looks bright.

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