POTTSTOWN PA – The times they are a’changin’, and with them the courses to be offered next year at Pottsgrove High School, the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors unanimously agreed Tuesday (Jan. 28, 2013).
Board members were generally pleased with, and approved, what they said were substantial additions and revisions to high school courses Pottsgrove will offer students in various grades during 2014-2015. They place a higher emphasis on the sciences and math; leverage the ability of some instructors to teach advanced programs that earn both high school and college credits; and make limited additions to the arts, foreign languages, and social studies.
Dr. William Ziegler
“There’s life beyond Pottsgrove,” high school Principal Dr. William “Bill” Ziegler told directors in a presentation of what lies ahead in the curriculum. “We need to remain competitive, and we need to provide rigorous learning, to make sure our students are ready for college and their careers.”
“The biggest dent” made by teachers and administrators in planning for next year “is in science,” Ziegler noted. The high school will offer three advanced placement courses in Environmental Science, Biology and Physics. An additional honors-level anatomy and physiology course will be provided online. An introductory 9th grade science course has been revamped, too.
The high school also will lean upon Pottsgrove’s partnership last year with Project Lead The Way, a national non-profit that claims to be the nation’s leading provider of programs in science, technology, engineering and math course content. Two new Pottsgrove offerings, “Principles of Engineering” and “Computer-Integrated Manufacturing” come directly from the group’s bulging catalog, according to Ziegler.
The goal, he said, “is to open up a lot more windows in science for students who are high achievers” and, by extension, better prepare them for targeted job markets. The online course – and Ziegler hinted there would be more of those to come – allows students to add another subject into their mix without having to physically attend a classroom. “They’re taking advantage of some of their free time,” the principal acknowledged.
Math students similarly benefit. Existing academic algebra content has been beefed up. The high school next year will offer a second advanced placement course in calculus.
Some Pottsgrove teachers have earned master’s degrees in specific subjects that position them to teach dual-credit courses. Pottsgrove won’t be shy about putting them to use, Superintendent Shellie Feola promised. “We’ve got some wiggle room that allows teachers to pick up additional courses,” she said, “so that’s what we’re going to do.”
So when high school Spanish majors dive into two new courses in the language, they’ll earn the necessary completions for Pennsylvania high school requirements, and gain college credit under an agreement with Montgomery County Community College. The same is true for a new “History of Western Civilization” course under the social studies banner.
“We’ve already got some students who are closing in on a college degree,” Ziegler happily boasted, and they haven’t yet received their high school diplomas.
There is a language casualty, though: French falls by the wayside. It will be discontinued as a new offering, and wasn’t very popular anyway, Ziegler explained. Students still taking French will be able to complete their programs. German remains as an option.
Also coming to the course schedule are electronic music ensemble and music technology courses; business career exploration, personal finance, and introduction to computer science; functional art and graphic design; and modifications to the foods program.
Feola recognized high school staffing is likely to be affected by Ziegler’s proposal. Several teachers who have not yet taught advanced placement courses will be required to attend a summer institute to prepare them for increased expectations, she said. The district budget also will include a request for another technology education teacher with a background in engineering.
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Jan. 28 meeting):
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