Dream School Essay, Research Paper
I am going to write my paper on my vision of the perfect school. In describing my dream school I will explain how it will operate, involve special education students and prepare students for life after high school. A strong site based administration is not only my preference, but is also the system that is most effective. I will first identify the individual positions of my dream school and then define their roles.
I will call my school Dream High School. Dream High will have a traditional administrative chain, consisting of a principal and a vice-principal. There would be a dean of discipline for each grade, and a FAC (Faculty Advisory Committee) made up of two teacher representatives from each grade; one person from the classified staff and two from the parent teacher association. There will also be one student from each grade on the FAC.
With the assistance of the two deans of discipline, the student body would establish a Peer Court. This would consist of seven members elected from the student body at large. Dream Supreme Court would be made up of the principal, vice principle, both deans and two teacher representatives.
The principal would be responsible, primarily, for the business management of the school. Budgets, building, schedules, transportation and personnel issues fall into the area covered by the principal.
The vice-principal would assist the principal in all areas. In addition, the VP must deal with staff development concerns. He or she will facilitate the mentoring program, manage the training schedules and ensure that all staff is allowed to attend seminars each year to further their expertise.
All discipline issues not covered by the PEER COURT system-suspension, expulsion, safety- will be dealt with by the deans of discipline. The PEER COURT would be responsible for holding weekly sessions to address routine concerns. Students? accused of violating a rule will come before the PEER COURT for a hearing. In my school the accused will have an opportunity to present their side, witnesses may be called and may testify. The PEER COURT will then determine guilt and impose consequences. The accused may appeal to the deans of discipline. The VP and deans must approve of the imposed consequences. The Dream Supreme Court must automatically intervene when issues of safety, security, and or state law are involved. Otherwise, the decisions of the peer court are final.
The Parent Teacher Association is an integral part of the running of my school. Formally, they are represented on the FAC. It is the representatives? responsibility to bring to light concerns, issues and desires of the community. It is an absolute mandate that the staff be responsive to community concerns. The school, primarily through the PTA, must actively seek not only their in-put regarding concerns, but also their needs and wants. The expertise of everyone in the site community must be sought to enhance the overall effectiveness. Each professional at Dream High will be assigned to his or her best area of expertise. The staff would have the FAC to deal with their issues while the students would have representatives on the FAC as well as their own PEER COURT. I believe that when those involved have direct control over their lives, the results will benefit all involved. Giving control to the local community, students and staff members will increase the feeling of belonging and investment of all who come in contact with the school.
DREAM SCHOOL ISSUE: SPECIAL ED DISCIPLINE
Dream High will include its Special Ed students with the mainstream population with regards to discipline. Since federal law interjects formal discipline guidelines, someone must be placed in charge to over see this process. The case manager (Special Ed teacher) for each student will act as the ?legal advocate? for the Special ED student on his or her caseload. This utilization of the teacher will accomplish several things:
First, federal and state laws will be followed. It is simply not reasonable to expect all staff, FAC members and student PEER COURT officers to be familiar with all legal statues. Therefore, the case manager will guide all involved through the discipline process.
Next is the possible communication concern. Many Special Ed students are dramatically delayed in the communication and social skill areas. Having the case manager present will alleviate some of this concern. The student(s) will certainly feel much more comfortable with a known spokesperson. The student will be able to ?voice? his or her case through the advocate.
IDEA mandates that schools discipline Special ED students as mainstream students are treated. Therefore, it will be required that ALL students be disciplined in accordance with the Dream High School governance system.
Dream High?s curriculum will be based upon the fact that it is a two year (11-12) school. The Base curriculum will be made up of the following core classes:
In addition to the above-mentioned classes Dream High will have an interactive agreement with the local university to provide college level math, English and science courses to the students. These courses will be offered during the evenings and weekends so as to allow students the opportunity to enjoy a variety of classes both during the school day and outside of the school day if the student elects. The alternative classes offered will include:
For all of the above mentioned classes industry leaders will be called upon to help develop the curriculum and course content. It only makes sense that the people that are working on a day to day basis in the fields that apply to these courses would be better suited to establish the levels of importance of course content. An engineer working at IBM for example would be working not only on the Computer Technology class but on the math curriculum as well. Construction firms and local architects would be able to build a class that would target what skills are most important for a student that is interested in working in their field. Skilled Chef?s would be working with our curriculum design team to identify the basics that an apprentice Chef would need to know when entering the workplace. In short, it is important that the people with the most expertise in the selected areas should have input on what course content should be. Because technology and techniques change on a rapid basis the curriculum would be reviewed on a bi-annual basis and innovations would be implemented at that time.
The music program in most high schools is probably one of the most under appreciated programs in general. Administrators tend to believe that these programs do not need the funding or support that athletics or core classes need but often this is not the case. It has been proven through numerous studies that students with a musical background perform better in school, have better study habits and grasp abstract thinking better that those students that are not involved in a music program. It is for this reason that Dream High will place great value and pride in both the music program and the athletic program. The following classes in music will be offered:
Students entering their first year at the school will be required to take music theory and music appreciation regardless if they play an instrument. This is to provide the student with a basic knowledge of music and it?s history so that the student may have a well rounded education. Band and Choir students will be offered lessons free of charge from an agreement made with the local music store. Experienced staff and instructors are compensated for their time by having students promote music throughout the community by visiting local elementary schools, civic events, and entertaining the residents of local nursing homes. Students will also experience seminars given throughout the year by experienced professional musicians so that they better understand the demands and rewards of a career in music
Individual Educational Programs
Students at Dream High will be participating in academic classes until the 10th grade when they would be tested in academics, take an interest inventory test, and complete a comprehensive Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students with academic abilities who wished to continue on a ?college prep? schedule, would do so. Those who are not as strong academically would address possible vocations that would appear in the Interest Inventory Test. At that point, each student would develop a comprehensive IEP.
Most students have a good idea if they want to go to college or not and what they are good at. Most have thought about, and may know, what they want to do when they are grown-up. Most of them, however, do not know what?s involved in achieving their goals. An IEP is very helpful in developing a ?plan of attack?. It gives the student manageable steps to take to be successful. Having goals helps keep students motivated. There are fewer discipline issues and their transition into adulthood is much easier. The IEP?s would focus on the present levels of achievement, social-emotional adaptation, future goals and objectives as well as address the seven intelligence?s.
The ?seven intelligence?s? are; interpersonal relationships, introspective abilities, spatial (visualization), athletic, musical, and verbal or mathematical intelligence?s. The principle would be ?How are you smart, not how smart are you?? At my school I would endorse these intelligence?s to where students are in ?a state of flow?, that learning lane that is challenging, but not so much as to cause anxiety. Students would be learning within their strong suit and therefore, would be motivated and successful, requiring very little direct instruction. Students in their junior year, who did not plan to go to college, would be placed in a vocational training program and in their senior year, they would work as apprentices within the work force of their chosen area.
Business people would be acting as ?teachers? in the work force, with teacher support when needed. Business people are not trained educators, and therefore, tend to fall into ?incomplete teaching? naturally. They present the task with brief directions and then, usually, walk away, leaving the student to rely and hone his problem solving skills based on his or her short term memory and seven intelligence?s. This type of learning is what is lacking in the schools today, because students do not have a personal interest in the topic and very little to figure out, they are simply required to use rote memorization.
Preparation for Life: A transition program from school to community
Abstract of Program:
Preparation for Life would be a program that is designed to prepare individuals with special needs for the transition from school life to adult life. Through classes and experiences, individuals with special needs will gain insight into the areas of work, leisure activities, adult living realities, and skills needed to be independent in the community. The program has 3 levels, based on the grade and need of the student. In the following composition, the 3 levels of the program will be described.
The first level would be for 9th and 10th graders. During this level, students receive much of their instruction in high school classes that are geared towards the individual student needs and goals. Instruction during the 9th and 10th year is intended to prepare students for the next level. Students at this level will be taken into the community to learn aspects of transition, including; grocery shopping, going to the doctor, going to the post office, public/private transportation, etc. Students will have the opportunity to be paid for school-based work experiences, to build and strengthen positive working skills. Academic training during this level would be based on practical needs of individual students. If a student is not ready to move on to the next level, then that student will stay in level one until he/she is ready to move on.
Level two would be made up of 11th and 12th graders. At this level, students spend more time in the community. Most students spend ? of their school day in classes and the other ? in the community, usually being paid to work at a business, in a group or individually. Classes at the school would be based on job seeking skills (where to look for a job, how to contact job sites, how to keep a job, etc.), how to fill out various applications, interview skills, how to be a good employee, etc. Students would also become more independent in the community. When students have successfully completed this level of the program they will go through the graduation process to signify the completion of high school. Based on what the need is, some students will not go onto level three, they will stay in level two until their 22nd birthday. Those students will not go through the graduation ceremony until that point. If a student moves on, he/she goes to level three.
The main focus of this level is independence. Once students have reached this level, they no longer attend high school classes. Students are hooked up with adult support programs, such as Vocational Rehabilitation, JOIN, OARC, etc. The school would still support individuals, but the support would come from as job/life coaching in the community. At this time the students would be given the option to work full time for pay. Living arrangements may include; at home with family or in assisted living situations. It would be expected that the student display a certain amount of responsibility by showing up to work on time. Once a student turns 22 he/she will have completed level three. At this point the individual should be ready to be an active part of the community. A program such as Preparation for Life would be designed to prepare individuals with various special needs for a life after school. The program would help to ease the transition from school life to adult life, a successful transition based on individual needs and goals.