Grant Funds Summer Learning for High School Teachers
High school teachers in the Portland Public Schools are attending national conferences and other learning activities during the summer as part of Pathways to Success, a district-wide initiative to improve options for students. A $5 million grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation is paying for the professional development.
Deering High School Principal Ira Waltz and nine Deering teachers are attending a conference in New York this week sponsored by the International Studies School Network. Deering is considering adoption of the network’s learning model, beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. The network’s mission is to prepare every student to succeed in college or other post-secondary education and to help students learn how the world works as the foundation for success in a global era.
Next month, Portland High School will send about 10 staff people to a conference sponsored by Johns Hopkins University's Talent Development program. Portland High is considering adoption of the Johns Hopkins learning model, beginning in the 2013-2014 school year.
“The Talent Development program outlines a plan of action at each grade level,” said Portland High Principal Deborah Migneault. “The program provides multiple pathways reflecting student interests and aspirations as we prepare them for post-secondary education and/or careers.”
One of only a handful of “mentor schools” in Expeditionary Learning’s national network, Casco Bay High School involves students in rigorous, multidisciplinary projects that address real-world issues. The Nellie Mae grant will pay for Casco Bay to hold a summer institute for its faculty to develop and refine learning expeditions for the coming year.
Recently released data from the Maine Department of Education shows graduation rates rising at all three of Portland’s public high schools. The Pathways to Success initiative aims to continue that trend.
In addition to the new learning models that will be implemented at Deering and Portland High, the initiative will create internships at each of the three schools. Internships will be tailored to students’ interests, giving them real-world experience and high school credit.
Each of the schools will hire an AmeriCorps volunteer to oversee extended day programming for English language learners. Deering and Portland High each will appoint a teacher-leader for their Pathways initiatives and Casco Bay High School will add a half-time high school completion coordinator.
As Maine’s largest school district, the Portland Public Schools offers high school students a wide array of choices. They include access to 10 or more Advanced Placement classes, courses in the humanities, arts, science, technology, engineering and math, a Global Studies certificate program and programs at Portland Arts and Technology High School in growing fields such as new media and health care.
Southern Maine Community College and the University of Southern Maine hold courses at Casco Bay High School and Deering, respectively, that are open to students as well as others in the community. All qualifying high school students can take free courses at area colleges and graduate with credits toward a postsecondary degree.