10/27/11 The New Tech school that will open within Plymouth High School in the fall of next year has progressed from an idea to a vision to almost a reality. In order to make sure parents, students, and the community understand how the New Tech type school will differ from the traditional classroom style teaching, a new website has been launched to further explain the concept. The official name will be School of Inquiry.
Ken Olson, director of the School of Inquiry, along with the Jennifer Felke, director of professional development, will be updating the website weekly or bi-weekly with information of the progress of the new school.
Olson said the website contains a brochure for parents to read, links to other schools that currently have New Tech schools, and a page for students. There are also videos and a question and answer page for frequently asked questions. Those wanting additional information can register on the site to receive a phone call or email. Once the School of Inquiry is up and running, the website will include the type of projects that the students are collaborating on.
Olson said they have been meeting with current eighth graders to explain how the new school will operate and meeting with parents during parent/teacher conferences at Lincoln Junior High. During freshman orientation day in January, Olson said they will make a presentation about the school.
Olson said they invited eight parents to tour of theVikingNewTechSchoolinHuntingtonlast Thursday.
At this point, the first 100 students that will be accepted into the school will be freshman next fall. Olson said there are some misconceptions about who will be accepted into the program. He said a phrase he heard at Huntington says it all, “This type of learning environment is not for everyone, but can be for anyone.” He said it is being offered for those who’s leaning style fits into these types of classes. New Tech high schools use an approach called Project Based Learning. Students work together on projects that are designed to be practical and requiring real-life decisions and critical thinking.
Olson said the school will be staffed from those teachers who volunteer. He said, “In this type of school, the teachers are referred to as “facilitators”.
Other parts of the site include an investors or partners page for those wanting more information on how to be a part of the formation of the School of Inquiry. A bond was approved by the Plymouth School Board during their last meeting to fund the needed renovations to accommodate the needs of the School of inquiry. According to Olson, they are seeking donations from the community to fund the special teacher training and professional development of the staff that will be involved and furnishings/equipment that are designed to be flexible and reconfigured easily.
This is Olson’s second year in thePlymouthsystem He serves as the Dean of Students at PHS. He said, “I really wanted to come to Plymouth because they are proactive and not reactive to new ideas.” Olson previously taught world history,United Stateshistory, government, business and ENL classes.
Registration for the School of inquiry is scheduled to begin in January of 2012. The website can be found at www.plymouth.K12.in.us/plymouth-school-of-inquiry.html.
Carol Anders Correspondent