Monday, May 23, 2011

Participating in your Community: a true 21st Century Skill

Participating in your community: a true 21st Century Skill
Community involvement has always been a key component of the New Tech model.  The original New Tech High school, founded in Napa, California in 1996, was built on the ideas of that community.  At home in Bloomington, our New Tech started with the Graduation Work Group which consisted of stakeholders from across the community.  Through our first three years, the students and staff at Bloomington New Tech have worked hard to make “community” one of the most valued and respected components of our model.

Our community members are involved in many curricular and school related areas.  As director, I rely heavily on the advice of my community advisory board.  The advisory board is comprised of 11 members of this community and represent business, not-for-profit, 4-year college, 2-year college and the middle schools.  This year alone teachers have involved over 25 community members in the evaluation of student projects.  We know that involving community members increase the relevance and rigor of our projects.  

Below I would like to highlight some of the unique opportunities provided to our students.

Freshman Interview Day & Job Shadow Day:  All of our freshman must have a professional resume that has been meticulously evaluated by Mrs. Novak, our Software and Careers teacher, in preparation for interview day.  Mrs. Novak works closely with the Chamber of Commerce’s Franklin Initiative to bring in professionals to interview each student.  Professional dress is required and it puts a smile on every adult to see our students “dressed for success.”  The interview day is followed the next week by a 1 day job shadow.  The Franklin Initiative and Mrs. Novak work tirelessly to place every freshman in a career of interest.  On the day of the shadowing, it is great to see our students in professional dress headed to the bus stop for the trip to their job shadow. 

Service Learning:  Our Juniors are the pioneers of all we do and service learning is no exception.  This year the juniors organized, fundraised and orchestrated a number of unique community events.  Some of those events are:
·         Masquerade Social  and Silent Auction for Suicide Prevention
·         Technology Courses for adult community members
·         Red Cross Blood Drive
·         Planned Prom
·         Planned New Student Orientation

One of the most exciting events of this year is our participation in the Kaboom 3rd Street Park Build.  Fifty students spent Friday helping The Project School and the Boy’s and Girl’s Club reconstruct 3rd Street Park.  Students helped in all aspects of the build.  When I stopped to check on the progress everyone seemed to be having fun, working hard and enjoying the opportunity to give back to our community.  At the end of the day over 200 community members, even the president of the hospital, will have constructed an entirely new park!

I know that community service and giving back is something that I have learned from the students.   I look forward to next year as we continue to be involved and participate in our community.

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