On Monday night the Board of Education voted to reconfigure Roosevelt Middle School. One of the new programs planned to go into that school will be the NBHS Careers Academy.
So, why does the City need this new academy?
According to Mike Foran, principal on assignment, the New Britain High School graduation rate is over 64 percent, but that number needs to be about 95 percent.
“In order to get to that number there was significant effort in the school, but despite that about 30 percent of ninth grades received less than five credits,” said Foran. “Over 30 percent of NBHS students are over ages and under credited.”
There has been discussion of helping these students at the high school, but Foran said, the fact is they are disconnected with the high school and needs their own facility.
Sharon Beloin Saavedra, school board president, agreed, saying that the schools have tried to change the trajectory of these students, but there hasn’t been a huge success.
“It needs to be offsite,” said Saavedra.
“We’ve exhausted what we could in the high school,” said Foran. “There are just students that don’t fit in well to a large urban high school.”
The philosophy of the program is that the vast majority of students, not currently achieving success at high school, have the desire and potential to achieve success if provided by the support necessary to overcome challenges holding them back.
According to Foran’s power point presentation, “to accomplish this all staff must share the same values and belief that all students can achieve at a high level and that by focusing on relationships, with each other and with our students, we can create a personalized environment for each student where they can successfully achieve, earn their high school diploma and be prepared to become successful, contributing members of our community.”
“You have to be willing to be creative structurally to understand that students are going to come with academic gaps,” said Foran. “Traditionally teaching methods will not work for these students.”
The school structure will be to accelerate credit earnings. There will be an extended day with five periods that are 90 minutes each from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There will be a community lunch that will have every student and every staff member present.
The purpose of the lunch is, “to interact and model positive interaction with students,” Foran said. “It is an informal community building time.”
Various industries and businesses have offered internships for students. More will be researched to give student career learning choices.
“All of our students will start with a career planning and workforce competency course,” said Foran. “We are not going to send students out into the community until they are ready.”
The target students are those that have completed 2 years at NBHS but have less then 8 credits; those that have completed 3 years will less than 12 credits and 5th year seniors. Those with conduct issues or a history of violence will not be admitted.
Starting this month the NBHS guidance committee will identify potential students. In March, the staff will meet with the students and in April review applications. Students will be notified in May if they have been accepted. In June there will be an orientation process and school will start in September.
“We want our students to be able to translate their school experience to community experience to ensure as seamless as possible a transition once they leave us with their diploma,” added Foran.
Superintendent of Schools Kelt Cooper said there is a big challenge ahead.
“There are dozens of dozens of job opportunities that they have never thought about,” said Cooper. “The sky’s the limit.”