To illustrate how students can use principles of algebra, one teacher at Viking New Tech Academy gives them real-world experience by bringing in a police officer to create a mock crime scene in the school parking lot.
Its about finding ways to make the content relevant, said Kelly Renier, director of Viking New Tech, located within Huntington North High School.
The curriculum offered through the academy is among several different ways that area high schools are preparing students for the workforce.
New Tech academies are springing up all over the country. Renier said Viking New Tech is among six New Tech schools in northeastern Indiana. A New Tech Academy is also housed within Wayne High School in Fort Wayne Community Schools.
New Tech incorporates project-based learning into the curriculum for all its subjects, either taught individually or integrated. Integrated subjects such as biology and computer applications incorporate both areas into coursework. Students are given a problem or a project through a video, written statement or guest speaker. Over several weeks, students work in collaborative groups ranging from partners to teams of up to six to tackle the problem or project, Renier said.
The teacher acts as more of a facilitator, offering instruction when students need it. The curriculum encourages creativity and critical thinking to come up with unique solutions, Renier said. And when students arrive at their solutions, they present them and what theyve learned to their classmates and often experts from the community who are invited when possible.
Working in teams is almost unavoidable in the workplace, Renier said. Its a real challenge for some adults, and our students are learning how to work with all kinds of different people before they leave high school.
Anthis Career Center is an option for high school students to receive career and technical training before they graduate. Nearly 1,000 juniors and seniors attending public and private high schools in Allen and Whitley counties attend the center, as well as home-schooled students, said Larry Gerardot, Anthis principal.
Anthis has 10 different departments with 28 different courses in cosmetology, automotive, child care, criminal justice and medical training.
Students can earn from three to 12 credit hours per year in college credits through partnerships with Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University. Certifications can be earned in most areas, Gerardot said.
Students have a variety of options once graduating from their home schools and with the skills learned at Anthis. Gerardot said 52 percent of students go on to two- or four-year colleges and universities.
Others go into certification programs, apprenticeships or sign up for the military.
All students have to continue their education in some way, Gerardot said. What weve done with them is just the beginning.
Anthis focuses on showing students options in their desired career, so that they can develop a plan. It also helps them become more focused and goal-oriented, Gerardot said.
Our students graduate at high rates, are more likely to finish college and less likely to need remediation, Gerardot said. They are ahead of the game no matter what they choose to do.
East Allen University, a college and career magnet program in East Allen County Schools, also gives students experience through job shadow opportunities. The magnet high school is finishing its inaugural year. The program gives students an opportunity to earn enough college credits for an associates degree while in high school.
Principal Doug Hicks said the schools goal is that 100 percent of students go on to earn a bachelors degree or more. But as freshmen, students shadow community members in their desired career fields to get an idea of what their future careers could look like.
Hicks said students are responsible for contacting people to set up the shadow experience, and he hopes students can maintain those relationships.
Students had some neat shadowing experiences in teaching, veterinary science, business, nursing and forensic science, he said.
Its all about who you know these days, he said. Hopefully students will continue to pursue that connection they made.
The careers course helps students determine what type of associate degree they might earn while still in high school.
We encourage our students not to stop at the associates degree level, Hicks said. Its really a foundation of college credits at a low cost to allow students to pursue a four-year degree or beyond.