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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weeks 36 & 37

Transformative Education
Contributed by Brad Martin
Director of the EOS Depot Campus

It’s pretty easy as an adult to look back on high school as a time of life when personal transformation happened more outside of the school than inside.  At varying rates, it’s when we change from children to adults, but more often that not, it is usually experiences that occur on a personal level that shape us.  It may be in a classroom, and certainly a teacher or two might impact and inspire us, but if we trace back the experiences that we remember as real learning experiences, they occurred outside of the classroom.  Ultimately, school is about 7 hours a day, with down time included.  That leaves a lot of time for learning outside of the classroom.  Sometimes, though, we (educators) de-value the learning that can happen in those other 17 hours of the day – because we don’t test for it, and there are no grades that apply.  Frequently, teachers can’t even find the time to know what their students do outside of the window time that he or she is in their classrooms.  But intuitively, we know that it’s those experiences that lead people to become great at what they do. 

If you read about what it takes to become a master – that is, to be at the pinnacle of a trade or skill or craft – you’ll find that many experts say about 10,000 hours of practice is what it takes.  There are previous posts on this blog that reference this notion.  That’s about 5 year’s time at 40 hours a week…of dedicated practice. Without being glib, that’s going to require a little time outside of school.

There’s a book by Ron Berger called An Ethic of Excellence. Here’s an introduction that is well worth a few minutes of your time. But, if you can’t find the time to read it, here’s an important passage:

“I believe that the work of excellence is transformational. Once a student sees that he or she is capable of excellence, that student is never quite the same.  There is a new self-image, a new notion of possibility.  There is an appetite for excellence.  After students have had a taste of excellence, they’re never quite satisfied with less; they’re always hungry.”

At E.O. Smith, we should be proud of all the excellent work and learning our students do outside of the classroom, which is plentiful.  Frequently, we celebrate that work (senior projects come to mind), and have built a program - the Depot Campus - that is based on the premise that learning happens in the real world as much as it happens in the classroom.  Here are a few facts about the Depot Campus, which was founded in 2008:

  Learning Through Internships (LTI)
The Heart of the Big Picture Depot Campus School
  • Depot Campus students have volunteered many hours at The Covenant Soup Kitchen, W.A.I.M., Tara Farms and Red Tar Farms (both animal rescue farms), The Last Green Valley (water conservation), Joshua’s Trust (local land management), and the Willimantic Food Co-Op.
  • All Depot Campus students are paired with a mentor in an interest-based internship for 2 school days (40% of students’ educational time is “out of the building”).  How are students “tested” for learning based on these experiences??? They host Exhibitions of Learning, often on-site, with the mentor present.  With all the talk of highly-qualified teachers, it’s pretty easy to find them in the community around us.  Mentors are frequently people who have practiced their art, or trade, for hours.
  • Depot Campus Mentors have been from the following fields: the arts (pottery, painting, quilting, woodworking, photography); education (preK-8); daycare; forestry; excavation/farming; carpentry; animal care; UConn theater (costume design, historic costumes, artistic design); UConn dining (bakery, culinary); radio (WHUS, i98.3); auto mechanics; small engine repair; hairdressing/cosmetology; writing; gardening; history; computer repair; video game design; anti-bullying; television studio production (Ch 14); martial arts; plastics manufacturing; jewelry; marketing; health care (Windham Hospital, EMT/paramedic, nursing home, senior care); dentistry; ornithology; and more. 
  • Recently, the Depot Campus hosted a celebration for the mentors who dedicated their time to the students.  On a beautiful day, mentors were recognized and given awards by their interns.  Some mentors entered the building for the first time, and were amazed by the positive energy and atmosphere – and by the ownership the students demonstrate of their school.
  • There are things happening in the learning experiences students have at the Depot Campus that are transformational.  Some students are achieving excellence for the first time in their lives, and choosing college or other positive post-secondary opportunities of learning (of 12 graduates in 2011, 9 continued onto college, the military, or trade school, and 7 of those 12 had reported that they wouldn’t have completed high school without the opportunity to attend the Depot).
 The Depot Campus has a new YouTube channel to start sharing student work.  There’s a documentary a student made about the school, as well as a clip of a current student demonstrating his knowledge of permaculture farming.

For more news, and to see a picture of a student who has tasted “excellence” in learning, click here.

The Depot Campus will be profiled on May 29th at 5:10 pm on AM 1400, and there will be an upcoming feature in the Chronicle about the school as well.

If you are interested in learning more about the Depot Campus program, please contact 860-487-2260.

Keep encouraging students to learn – wherever that may happen!

Free Workshops Scheduled Over Next Two Weeks

Two workshops are scheduled over the next two weeks, with each one addressing an area of importance related to life after high school.

On Thursday, May 24th at 6:30 pm at EOSHS, 12th and 11th graders who may need to take the Accuplacer have the opportunity to complete a free Accuplacer Diagnostic Test .  This computer-based test will provide immediate feedback upon completion.  Areas of strength as well as areas needed for improvement will be revealed.  This experience may provide preparation for the real Accuplacer, the results of which will determine placement (or not) in college-credit classes at community colleges.  Students wishing to take advantage of this opportunity should email Doug Melody at dmelody@eosmith.org.

On Thursday, May 31st at 6 pm at EOSHS, 10th graders presently in Geometry or Algebra 2 and 11th graders are being offered the opportunity to take a free PSAT.  This is the exact same test administered to students back in October.  Tests will be scored and returned (along with their test booklets) to students the following week.  This experience may provide a solid base for preparing to take the SAT.  Interested students should email Doug Melody at dmelody@eosmith.org.

Required Registration Forms Due for ECE Courses

For students enrolled in ECE courses in the 2012-13 school year, they will need to complete a registration form by June 1 in order to be eligible to earn UConn credits. The forms are available in the Guidance Office. They are also available on-line at the Early College Experience (ECE) web site (see below under "Helpful Links"). Failure to complete this registration form in a timely fashion will result in lost opportunity to earn free college credits (ECE Policy). A minimum final grade of "C" is required in order to earn UConn credits.

If you're wondering which EOS courses are considered ECE courses as well, check the following list:

AD Biology (UC BIOL 1107)
AD Biology (UC BIOL 1108)
AP Chemistry (UC CHEM 1127Q)
AP Chemistry (UC CHEM 1128Q)
AD Latin 4 (UC CAMS 3102)
AD Latin 5 (UC CAMS 3102)
AD Economics (UC ECON 1201)
AD French 5 (UC FREN 3267 and 3268)
AD World Civilizations (UC HIST 1300)
AD Modern European History (UC HIST 1400)
AP US History (UC HIST 1501and 1502)
AD Individual & Family Development (UC HDFS 1070)
AD Latin America Studies (UC LAMS 1190)
Discrete Math (UC MATH 1030Q)
Calculus A (UC MATH 1125Q and 1126Q)
AD Calculus (UC MATH 1131Q and 1132Q)
Physics A (UC PHYS 1201Q)
AD Physics (UC PHYS 1201Q and 1202Q)
AD Spanish 5 (UC SPAN 3178 and 3179)
AP Statistics (UC STAT 1100Q)

Inquiries About Enrolling in Courses on UConn Campus

As you may know, EOSHS was once governed by the University of Connecticut and EOS students, under this arrangement, had available to them courses offered on the UConn campus. A split occurred back in the mid-1980s when UConn decided to relinquish control of EOS and the Region 19 School District evolved from UConn's decision. In the "divorce" agreement, EOS students were assured placement in UConn courses on campus provided that they were eligible to take the courses (met prerequisites), seats were available in the course on the first day of the semester (EOS students enroll for free and, understandably, tuition paying UConn students should get first dibs on any course), and the course was NOT offered in the EOS curriculum. This policy has continued to this day, although it has become increasingly more difficult to enroll our students in classes on campus due to increasing enrollment there, shrinking budgets that are reducing the number of sections available, and changes that UConn has made in eligibility for enrollment.

Eligible students (read: 11th and 12th grade students with academic credentials - strong transcript and combined SAT scores of 1200+ in Critical Reading and Math) may request enrollment in no more than two classes per semester. Decisions on enrollment are made by the Early College Experience Office. We enroll these students as part-timers through the Office of Continuing Studies, although - as stated in the previous paragraph - we are not able to do so until the first day of the semester. Typically, about 25 students enroll in courses there each semester. Final grades earned in courses there appear on both EOS transcripts and UConn transcripts. It should be noted that the grades earned in courses taken on campus are NOT factored into the EOS cumulative GPA. Students who wish to enroll in a course on campus must contact Doug Melody to initiate the process.

Information Regarding 2012-13 Course Schedules

We're reaching the point where the initial phase of construction for the 2012-13 master schedule is almost complete. Most students have been scheduled into classes they initially selected back in February and March. In years past, a list of course selections would be mailed home around this time each year for verification. We'll soon be doing this again in about a week or so. When you receive this information, be sure to review it for accuracy. Students should contact their counselors immediately if they see mistakes on the list or wish to change anything on it. 

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