Transformation by definition goes well beyond the additional bricks and mortar designed to make room for the long-awaited participation of the freshman class on the high school campus. Transformation is greater than the implementation of certain policies or programs. This is not about changing hubcaps or adding a spoiler to one’s car. Consider instead, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee... the Autonomous Robotic Organisms from the Planet Cybertron (also referred to as Autobots.” These two, the best known of the Transformers, evolve from a Peterbilt truck and a Camaro into Autobots, capable of delivering much more than transportation. They are freedom fighters whose mission is to protect planet Earth from the Decepticons. This is precisely what one expects from the transformation at Belton High School… a radical change designed to enhance student preparedness. This is exciting stuff!
Over the past few years, there have been presentations and discussions regarding the vision to transform our Belton High School into the Academies of Belton. Specifically, these have included a review of the process, celebrations of grant monies received, notice of projected timelines, updates to new learning or tasks accomplished, and the identification of partnerships established. Certainly, we’ll continue to be the proud Belton High School, but the educational delivery model will be dramatically different.
As to “Why transform?”... Despite a trajectory which reveals positive gains at BHS, we’ve joined a growing number of education and community leaders who recognize there is more our schools and community can and should do to ensure our youth’s post-secondary preparedness. Initially, the motivation was about motivation. How can we best engage students in their own preparation for college and/or career and have them take greater ownership of their future? Across generations, the questions have included… “Why do I need to learn this?” As educators, parents, community members, business and civic leaders, and those involved in post-secondary programming, we commit to the identification of relevance.
Secondly, one can easily make the argument a student’s opportunity for choice lends itself to greater engagement. Our traditional model provides for choice among a collection of electives. However, this smorgasbord approach can lack connection and unless one is truly intentional about their selections, the combination of electives is simply an assortment of classes one takes. Again, as educators, parents, community members, business and civic leaders, and those involved in post-secondary programming, it is our duty to make the connection between student interest and the demand one finds in workforce data.
With the Academy model, relevance and choice will be made more clear throughout the student experience. The relevance… The Academies of Belton were identified based upon current and projected workforce data. Regarding choice… The often asked question of our young people, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” remains a critical question. This alignment of a student’s declared interest in a particular Academy provides him/her with a collection of experiences rooted in workforce data. Instruction and the collection of experiences are delivered “through the lens” of the respective Academy, thus a greater tie between student interest and their learning. The alignment provides greater motivation for one to develop relatable skills. The ability to provide an educational program with a focus creates the primary difference between the Academy model and a more traditional delivery model. As a community, we recognize the potential and the value of this change. Let the transformation at Belton High begin. Exciting “stuff” indeed!