Monday, March 10, 2014

Where are we and where are we going?

Today is the first day of spring break. To keep pace with the ever-changing face of education, I read as much as I can squeeze in. This past week while reading a number of news articles and blogs citing new and exciting advances in education; a common theme seemed to resonate - how far the United States lags behind the rest of the world. There seem to be many new ideas on how it (education) should be done, but I was struck with the number of ways Magnolia Heights is already on the cutting edge. As an example:
  • ACT Prep Course for All 11th graders. MHS began an ACT Prep program several years ago and recently required all 11th graders to take the class. Students meet each day where they review their previous ACT results as well as strengthen their test-taking skills. We have seen a significant rise in our ACT scores at all levels.
  • Increased emphasis on Dual Enrollment/Dual Credit Courses. MHS is now into its 8th year of offering our students college credit while at the same time enrolled in high school courses. Students have the opportunity to start their college years with up to 12 hours of college credit. While we could offer more classes, but we understand that many colleges want to teach the math and science classes required for many professional studies programs, like engineering and math, on their campuses to students entering their programs.
  • Increased opportunities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). MHS now offers an Honors track in math and science. In physics, engineering concepts are incorporated into the basic curriculum. They were very excited about their Rube Goldberg projects  where they built apparatuses to complete a task like popping a ballon or turn on a switch. Click here to learn more about these projects. For many years MHS students have participated in local, district and state science fairs where for the past 15 years or more have never placed lower than third in the overall state (schools are given points for placing in the fairs and the top 5 are always recognized). This spring the school is investigating a program called MAD-Learn (Mobile App Development) where students will design apps for mobile devices. Although this will be piloted in in grades 10-12, the curriculum is designed for third grade and up. How cool would it be for our third graders to design apps for their class! Students in our Computer Application II class are currently creating most of the material the school will use as part of the Apple Distinguished School Application process.
  • Increased professional development opportunities for faculty. For the second year in a row MHS teachers will attend iSummit Conference at The Westminster School in Atlanta Georgia. As a member of the Coalition of Lighthouse Schools, MHS teachers will spend three days learning from other educators how to use technology in and out the classroom. I was pleased that during some of our recent school closures, several of our teachers pushed out assignments to their students to compensate for the loss of class time brought on by the school closures. This is called “reverse instruction" or “flipping the classroom.” As part of our leadership to other schools, Magnolia Heights will be hosting over 50 teachers and administrators from a dozen schools in April to demonstrate how we are utilizing technology in the educational process. 

Although I could go on, I think my point is made. Magnolia Heights will continue to provide its parents and students with the very finest college preparatory education in the area. We realize and understand that it is a financial burden on many of our parents to send their children to MHS. However, we, as I did with my two sons, view it as an investment in our children's education - an investment that does indeed pay dividends. As a result we will continue to push the educational envelope while at the same time cherishing the proven, tried and true methods of instruction. We understand that we must provide extra value added opportunities for our students. I am so blessed to be a part of this great school.

I hope everyone has a blessed and safe spring break!