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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Smyrna School District
When Principal Anthony Soligo in 1998 joined the school as assistant principal, only 48 percent of graduates went on to college. That number has since jumped to 83 percent. Soligo credits community support and programs that stress computer skills. In February 2010, more than 6,000 people headed to Smyrna High for the annual I Love the Smyrna School District Day. Smyrna High’s business and agriculture programs win state, regional and national recognition. Biotechnology, mechanics, human services, early childhood development, criminal justice and building infrastructure are also popular pathways. The school’s career prep programs fall in line with R2T goals.
Sussex Technical School District
A high achiever when it comes to state test scores, Sussex Tech is not about to rest on its laurels. Tutoring is available both before and after school. As part of its R2T initiatives, the school opens an hour late once a week so students and teachers can collaborate. There are 14 technical areas, and Sussex has boosted professional development for technical teachers.
Woodbridge School District
One of the top schools in the nation, according to Newsweek, Woodbridge High has a strong program that pairs students with a teacher or administrator. Principal Bob Adams, for instance, mentors 15 students. When parents visit the school to learn about their child’s progress, they meet with the advisers, not classroom teachers. Career-oriented courses put students where the action is, whether they are on clinical rotations at Nanticoke Hospital or on the school’s farm. Woodbridge will apply R2F funds wherever they help most.
Some charter schools were created as an incubator for gifted students or students with a particular interest. Take, for instance, Delaware Military Academy, which takes the JROTC to an everyday level. There are 20 graduates in the Naval Academy, one at West Point, three in the Air Force Academy and four in the Merchant Marines Academy. “All 553 kids want to be here,” says Col. Jack Wintermantel, the superintendent, CEO and founder of the school. Other charter schools serve students who are at-risk for problems in a traditional school environment. As with traditional public schools, the larger R2T share goes to schools with the greatest established need. The Charter School of Wilmington, for instance, received no funds.