05/30/14 The Weidner School of Inquiry has been named a New Tech Network Demonstration Site for the 2014-2015 school year. The “school within a school” located in the Plymouth High School building is only in the second year of operation. Plans are to add another 100 students next year to the current approximately 200 student enrollment as a new group of freshman move to high school.
Only twenty-seven schools national-wide were demonstration sites for the 2013-2014 school year. According to WSOI Co-directors Jennifer Felke and Michael Delp, schools must apply every year to be a demonstration site and WSOI was the first school to receive the status for the upcoming year. Instruction at the WSOI focuses on preparing students for college, career, and civic life through individual instruction and group projects.
Delp and Felke assumed the oversight of the WSOI this year after both had served as teachers in the program. According to Felke, no other NTN site has co-directors. Felke said the duo role is working well. She said, “It is exactly the model that we ask our teachers and students to follow.” “This is a school that number one adopts a growth mindset,” said Felke.
According to Delp, students concentrate on written, verbal and collaboration skills. He also said “agency” skills that promote work ethic, perseverance and self-directed learning are emphasized. Felke said, “We have authentic learning experiences that give meaning and purpose to what the students are learning.”
Tours of the site will include educators from around the state and possibly the nation who are interested in adopting a similar learning environment. However, both Delp and Felke indicated that local business community has taken a part and interest in the project-based program as well. Delp said the school’s sophomores will be taking field trips to the local facility of their choice including St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, Zentis, or ITAMCO. Several local business and industry leaders have been panel members as students presented their various projects. Delp said, “We would welcome business people to tour our school.”
Felke and Delp will be attending the annual national New Tech Network Conference in July in New Orleans.
Carol Anders Correspondent