The Public High School Special: A Real Education
With millions in federal funds given to Delaware based on its potential to improve public schools, there’s a lot on the line. Is this another case of the government throwing money at a problem? Here’s a look at the schools’ performance now, and a survey of how they intend to reform education. Plus, find out how your school rates in our High School Ranking chart.
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Red Clay School District
Red Clay has three traditional high schools—Alexis I. duPont, John Dickinson and Thomas McKean—and the magnet schools Cab Calloway School of the Arts and Conrad School of Science. Dickinson is a burgeoning STEM school. The approach moves the classics—reading “Beowulf,” for instance—into today through activities such as using high-tech tools to create a video about the story. Culinary arts programs, complete with café spaces, are on the way. If all goes as planned, so is participation in the International Baccalaureate Programme.
McKean, which added a fourth assistant principal this year as an academic dean, is devoting additional resources to career and technical programs. Upgrades have been made to design and engineering areas. Next up: the culinary arts and broadcast facilities. The school has a freshman advisory program that fosters mentoring. A partnership with Delaware Technical and Community College and the state’s biotech industry benefits Conrad Schools of Science students in biotechnology and allied health fields. R2T funds will support SAT prep classes for 10th-graders and increase AP classes. “I could give you a million things I’d like to spend it on,” Conrad principal Mark Pruitt says of the R2T allocations.
Seaford School District
Seaford High is going through a “school transformation,” says principal Michael Smith. And he isn’t kidding. In the 2011-2012 school year, the school will unveil the Delaware New Tech Academy, only the second New Tech program in the Mid-Atlantic. A national program, New Tech Network adheres to a project-based approach. “There’s a one-to-one ratio for student to computer the entire school day, and students collaborate,” Smith says. “They are accountable for each phase, which teaches them college and work skills at the same time.” Some R2T funds will go toward the new effort. The school in the next few years will also unroll tracks in agricultural science, leadership and perhaps hospitality for “schools within a school.”
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