Friday, November 23, 2012

Waterford High Schools Help Students with an Academic Center


This video story which appears in the Oakland Press and is archived on You Tube shows how students and staff are making the adjustments from a block schedule to a seven hour day and makes both students and staff accountable to improve student achievement.

Academic center helps Waterford high school students daily
By Roy J. Akers- Special to the Oakland Press

     When Waterford High School students needed a tweaking to their classes to include daily academic mentoring from teachers in addition to their allotted time together, school administrators listened. Students at both Mott and Kettering previously received instruction through block instruction, where classes were scheduled three times per week with a seminar period built in twice weekly. By everyone’s estimation it didn’t work.

Seeking a learning model where students could get daily help from teachers in addition to their regularly scheduled classes, school officials looked at the model used by the Avondale School District.

Now Deans of the Academic Center at Mott and Kettering, Tiffany Patten and Mandy Rebtoy oversee teachers and students that meet for one of their seven assigned classes daily and make sure both students and teachers are on task and productive.

Tiffany Patten said the biggest difference comes down to the role of the teachers. “The biggest difference between seminar and academic center is the mentoring piece. Our teachers in the academic center are called mentor teachers and they really make an effort to get to know their students.” Teachers walk around their pod during the 45 minute class making sure students are on task and answer questions.

Productive high school students are as likely to have a combination of athletics, work and or family responsibilities take up a key part of their after school routines and the academic center is where students who can ask mentor teachers questions, study or makeup work. With several classes meeting in the library each hour with only temporary walls between them, students can travel to any teacher in the library that hour.

Waterford Kettering student Maggie Smith is a senior and draws a comparison from the seminar days to the current academic center. “ In the academic center we are much more geared to getting work done. In seminar it was good because you had time to get done whatever you wanted. The problem was you did whatever you wanted. Here in  the academic center it is learning based so you have to be doing something academic during your time.”

   Students must fill out their agendas daily and they are checked by the teachers with daily points assigned and a letter grade is given at the end of the marking period just like any other class. For students that do not use the time wisely, interventions are used including a trip to academic refocusing center (ARC) where they receive additional measures to get them on track.

     Plans are already in the works for next school year and students will have topics ranging from ACT Preparation to career planning to help frame their high school experience.

For Austin Foote, academic center is helpful for him because he plays sports all year round and gets home late. “It helps me a lot to get my homework done at school and takes a lot of the stress out.”

Whether students are really busy or are making excuses about being busy, they will get the help they need.

“They are so busy and having that support in their academic center support hour, is very helpful,” said Rebtoy.