Reflections on my M-CHS tenure, Part II

Jason Wayman Enlargephoto

Jason Wayman

In my previous column, I discussed how Montezuma-Cortez High School will maintain our accreditation and move forward with our mission of continuous improvement. Much of the plan I discussed focused on students who need extra help to demonstrate mastery of the standards. I am sure, however, that many of the folks who read the article want to know what will be done for students who are on the other end of the spectrum. Today I’d like to explain what will happen for students who attend school regularly, succeed in their classes, and look for additional opportunities to learn and be challenged in school.

But first, let’s look at these students’ accomplishments!

M-CHS graduates have many doors open to them when looking at colleges to attend. The Class of 2012 had 79 students apply to colleges or universities and received well over 170 acceptance letters. 74% of our graduates will attend college this fall. Close to half of our graduates will be attending a four-year college, and a little more than a quarter will be attending a two-year college. I consider this to be an outstanding rate for students attending college.

To aid in the transition to college, M-CHS actively pursues scholarship opportunities for our students. Last year our students were awarded just shy of $715,000 worth of scholarships. That is an average of $9000 per graduate! To achieve this, M-CHS employs a post-secondary counselor to locate scholarships and match them to appropriate students. In the past three years, our graduates have received over $2.2 million in scholarships. The post-secondary counselor, Cindy Ryan, has been hugely successful in helping students reach their goals of higher learning.

Several of our graduates will be serving their country after their high school careers. Among those, one M-CHS graduate was awarded an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. This is, as you may know, one of the most prestigious and selective programs in the United States. Only the very top students with exceptional leadership abilities are considered for this honor. To have a student from our high school attend West Point speaks to level of education that is available to those that want to aspire to the highest tier.

Besides college attendees, M-CHS students completed EMT-Basic training and other certification programs that allow them to enter the work force. The goal of M-CHS is a “Quality Education for All.” Not all students want or are destined to go to college. With the close proximity of Southwest Community College, M-CHS has the opportunity to send students to receive these certifications and other trainings that will allow them to transition directly into the work force after high school and get into positions that require training that most students have to get after they complete high school. Therefore, many of our students are “ready to work” right out of high school with a full understanding of the requirements of the field they are entering.

Another positive change for the 2012-2013 school year is that we have gone to six-period days to allow students to take classes for an entire. Many might ask how this will benefit high-achieving students. In the spring, students take the ACT. The ACT is a standardized test that colleges and universities look at to determine if students have the intellectual capacity to survive on their campus. The ACT combined with the students grade point average (GPA) is often the determining factor of the type college/university a students can attend. The higher the GPA and the ACT scores, the more prestigious university/college they can attend and the more scholarships that are available to them.

The six-period days allow students to have math/language arts/science/writing and other critical subjects continuously during their high school careers. The block schedule only allowed students to take 4 classes and for half a year. Students would often not have taken one or more of the critical classes tested for months prior to testing day. Our new schedule will allow students to stay sharp in all areas so that they can maximize results that will only open more doors in their post-secondary endeavors.

M-CHS also offers many high level classes such as AP Art, AP English, PPC English, AP Calculus, AP American Government, and AP U.S. History. Often smaller schools do not have enough students to justify offering these classes to their student body. M-CHS has enough students each year to fill these classes and make them an enriching part of students junior/senior year. Each of these courses has an Advanced Placement (AP) exam that students take at the end of the course. Students’ scores on these exams can translate into college credit. Students who graduate from our high school have earned as much as an entire year of college credit before ever stepping on campus. A year of college can range from $5,000 to$30,000! That saves a lot of money for those parents.

To help with the classes that we are not able to offer, M-CHS has partnered with Southwest E-School to provide other various AP classes to interested students. We assign a teacher to work with these students to help them achieve their goals. M-CHS is pushing the limits of what people commonly think of as public education. Our teachers create solid relationships to support their students in their online classes. This offers students the opportunity to get a taste of 21st century learning as well as providing access to students as possible. Our goal is to better prepare our students for college than ever before.

Wednesday’s early release will now allow staff time to focus on enrichment as well as intervention. Lesson planning will start to include strategies to meet needs of students who are at or above grade level. When students are pretested and teachers discover that students are already on or above the expected standard, we will plan strategies to further the students and enrich their education in school.

Another focus will be including 21st century skills in our student’s education. Skills such as collaboration, problem-solving, navigating technology and effective communication will be focuses that will allow our students to graduate with skills to not only succeed in future schooling, but in a dynamic workplace as well. Of course, we know that our strategies and programs that are targeted at meeting the needs of our high performing students can always be improved. We will be recruiting parents for an Enriched Learning Task Force to study ways that we can improve how we meet the needs of this important group of students.

I hope that I did some justice to many of the great programs already in place for our students at M-CHS as well as our future plans. Our staff will continue to strive to achieve our mission of a “Quality Education for All.” This statement will be the guiding light for our school for the years to come. We know that we have a hugely important job to do, and we are committed to meeting the needs of each of the more than 600 students that attend our public high school.

As always if you have any questions or comment I can be reached at jwayman@cortez.k12.co.us.

Jason Wayman is the incoming principle of Montezuma-Cortez High School.

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