Dickinson High Senior Logo Contest Winner; an educator reflects on the career academy model

Following a vote at the school, DHS senior Jenna Moormann came out on the winning side with her creative take on the DHS academy model and her design is now branded in every hallway from school. Towards the end of the 2020-2021 school year, Moormann submitted his artwork to the logo competition which included submissions from across the high school.

The four academies include: Freshman Exploration, Health and Human Services, Business Management and Administration and Engineering and Technical Science.

“It helps prepare students so they know better what they want to do when they enter college or after college; they kind of have a better understanding of the job they might want to do or the profession they want to practice, ”Moormann said.

Moormann noted that the logo contest was aimed at raising awareness of the academies so that educators had something to reference.

“I hope this helps the students understand what they want to do or what job they want to go to because I have absolutely no idea what to do when I get out of high school or college, and I hope that will help them understand, ”added Moormann.

Following a staff survey and receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback, DHS continued to move towards an academy model for its classes in early 2019.

“It has been a multi-year communication process with all stakeholders, community members, staff and current and future students,” said Elisa Kensinger, science professor at DHS.

When the idea of ​​an academy model was introduced, administrators and teachers began to think about what they wanted at DHS.

(Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

(Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

“During the early stages of the academy discussions, teachers’ committees did a lot of research on existing schools using the model. We asked local employers how we can better prepare our students for the local workforce. The goal was simple: how can we help prepare our graduates to be future employees of our local businesses and industries? Kensinger said. “The aim is to ensure that the academies prepare our students to succeed in careers in high demand and hopefully contribute to the labor shortage the region is experiencing.”

During the 2020-2021 school year, DHS set up its first academy to enroll its ninth grade class at the Freshman Exploration Academy, Kensinger said, adding that the other three academies are currently in their first year of application. for the 2021-2022 school year. .

“We used the year to prepare the class of 2024 for the full academy model education experience. Before we could ask students to choose an academy, we needed to communicate the differences between academies and help students determine what their interests are and how that might translate into a future career path, ”she said.

Students can still take electives such as orchestra, choir, and art. According to a previous Dickinson Press article in 2019, the class schedule structure is similar to college where students choose a major and are required to take recommended courses and electives, but can also enroll in classes in outside of their major.

“The academy model allows students to choose the main category that interests them. It really helps in the classroom because it narrows down the varieties of career paths that a student might be most interested in, ”Kensinger said. “Instead of having a classroom where I could have an aspiring lawyer, carpenter, and accountant all at the same time, the class list has this common thread.”

Kensinger continued, “Teachers at the Business Management Academy (BMA) will have students interested in numbers and computers. Teachers at the Health and Human Services Academy (HHS) will have students who enjoy working directly with the public and serving others in need. A class at the Academy of Engineering and Technical Sciences (ETS) will have hands-on tinkerers who will show off their creativity and skill.

With the academy model, this gives educators more freedom, Kensinger noted.

“Teachers can customize their content to meet the specific interests of the academy. For example, biology is a compulsory course for all sophomores, but the academy model allows teachers to bring an academy-specific touch to their lessons. In HTA, biology could use examples and projects that use the practical and astute skills of these learners. The biology of the HHS can use the human body for models and the BMA could focus more on graphics, computer simulations and numerical examples, ”she noted. “The benefit for students is a more personalized experience in a room filled with peers with similar passions. ”

According to Kensinger, the academy model is “quite simple”. All freshman students enter the Freshman Exploration Academy (FEA) where a team of teachers is assigned to this group and they help discover what the students want to explore as potential career ideas. To uncover each student’s future calling, educators expose students to all types of careers through collaboration with different local businesses, community career and college fairs and other projects, she added.

Students do not need to engage in specific work, rather they decide on their personal preferences. Most first year students know if they’d rather work with people, computers, and numbers, or be active, outdoorsy people. At the end of the first year, through the different experiences of FEA, that idea becomes quite clear, ”she said, explaining,“ It helps refine the academy selections. The second year students then move on to their selected academy where new teams of teachers await them. The biggest advantage is that the courses required for graduation as well as the associated electives are taught by the same team of teachers for three consecutive years. This means closer bonds between students and teachers and a shared passion for these types of careers. It also means an education that is more specifically tailored to the interests of that student.

Dickinson Public Schools Acting Superintendent Marcus Lewton leads the academy model, which has delegated several people to help facilitate and oversee the process, Kensinger said.

For the coming school years, Kensinger said she hopes professional academies will provide DHS students with a “plus degree,” in which the model allows students to graduate but also creates valuable professional skills that can be used regardless of the path they follow. choose after graduation.

“A degree from a model academy school goes beyond compulsory reading, writing and arithmetic courses by establishing the foundational skills for high-demand, highly-skilled and well-paid careers,” he said. she noted.

Although the academy model is still in its infancy, Kensinger said it will help students in the long run.

“The academy model is important to the Dickinson community because when we work with local employers only positive results will result. When communities work with schools, it’s a win-win situation, ”Kensinger said. “We can improve the quality of education our graduates receive while preparing them to enter the local workforce with the skills employers are looking for. ”

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