Imagine a high school with no bells, yet students are engaged and on task. Imagine students taking initiative and responsibility for their own education while working and learning collaboratively in a team environment. Imagine teaching and learning that directly relates to real-world business, industry, and professional careers. Imagine high schools where students learn to be engaged, responsible citizens of their local community.
For teachers and students in a New Tech High School, this may be a reality.
For West Virginia educators, Fairmont State University’s School of Education, Health and Human Performance is helping to make this a reality by facilitating the exploration of New Tech’s innovative educational approach.
"Our goal at Fairmont State is to educate the most creative and innovative teachers we can, and to partner with school districts across the state to facilitate professional development opportunities that will significantly enhance the success of our schools, our communities, and our region," stated Dr. Van Dempsey, dean of the School. "New Tech presents a tremendous opportunity for us and our partners in public education."
New Tech’s philosophy is based upon three primary elements: a culture that empowers, teaching that engages, and technology that enables. The culture component is vital, according to Jon Reinhard, New Tech’s regional director of the Midwest. In fact, the culture of empowerment—which focuses on trust, respect and responsibility— sets the tone for the entire educational experience. Project-based learning—the teaching that engages—involves students in defining problems, group planning, research and investigation, guided activities, developing solutions, and presenting those solutions. The one-to-one ratio of fully-equipped computers to students enables the level of learning and experience that is mandated in our technology-driven economy.
"Our students achieve high levels of educational attainment and thrive academically. They become self-directed, lifelong learners," said Reinhard. As for the Network’s success, he added: "In 2008-09, 85% of the reported New Tech seniors applied to one or more colleges and had very high graduation rates; in many cases schools had 100% graduation."
The School of Education has hosted a series of informational sessions and meetings regarding the New Tech Network and several school district officials and teachers continue to explore the option of transforming into a New Tech school. As a result of these meetings, they have made site visits to current New Tech High Schools to witness this approach to 21st Century education first-hand. FSU’s School of Education, Health and Human Performance secured a grant from the Knowledge Works Foundation to assist local school districts with planning and travel costs associated with the site visits.
For more information about this initiative, please contact Dr. Dempsey at (304) 367-4241 or Van.Dempsey@fairmontstate.edu.
About this story: This story, written by Amantha Cole '03, was featured in the Summer 2011 edition of maroon & white. Click here to view this edition. To request a paper copy contact Beth Martin at (304) 367-4009.