At the December meeting of the Greenwood School Board, board members voted unanimously to go ahead with what is being called the Bulldog Learning Academy. Christy Hesslen and Jason Bridges, who are Instructional Facilitators for the district, gave a presentation to the board. They explained that while Greenwood is doing a good job of educating students, ranking in the top five schools in the state, that there is room for improvement.
“We are good but we still don’t meet the need of every single student,” said Bridges. “We have work to do.”
Bridges stated that the school district has an issue, as all schools do, with students learning at a different pace in a traditional classroom setting, which can leave some students behind..
Bridges explained that the solution to the problem is personalized learning, which will allow advanced students to continue on while taking the time to help struggling students without leaving them behind. “This is the only way to address the problem,” said Bridges. “But you can’t do this in a traditional setting.”
Another issue Bridges pointed out was the college dropout rate among Greenwood graduates, which has fluctuated between 11 and 34 percent according to the latest study. “We discussed this,” said Bridges “And maybe part of this is that we never give students a chance to take ownership over their own education.”
When implemented the Bulldog Learning Academy will begin at the ninth grade level and will work within the school’s academy system that was established earlier in 2016.
The BLA focuses on computer based lessons that can pinpoint a student’s weaknesses and help them to master the material. “The computer can individualize the learning in a way that teacher simply do not have the time to do,” said Bridges. “Because teachers are not going to be the primary content deliverers they will be able to go to students that are struggling and help those students.”
According to Bridges some schools have implemented similar programs where students sit in front of computers all day, but that Greenwood will go further and have students work on collaborative activities that will be designed by the teachers. “Having a student sitting at a computer is not enough,” said Bridges.
The last component of the BLA will be the Passion Project. Each student will be allowed to decide what they want to learn in depth and it will be student driven, student designed and student owned.
Hesslen stated that the ultimate goal is for graduates who possess the foundational knowledge, expertise and habits necessary to succeed in college, in the workplace and in life.
A presentation concerning the BLA will be presented to students and parents in the spring of 2017 and teachers will be trained during the following summer.
Instructional Facilitator, Christy Hesslen gives her portion of the presentation concerning the Bulldog Learning Academy at the school board meeting in December.