The Academies of Belton: Navigating New Horizons

The Academies of Belton

  • Like many districts across the country, the Belton School District in Missouri is transitioning its traditional high school to an academy model. In this animated video, we explain the academies and why the school is making this transition. The Academies of Belton offer a number of pathways for students to choose from with the goal of personalizing their education.

  • All freshmen at Belton High School take a course called Freshman Academy, in which the focus is placed on learning more about academic & technical skills, career development, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, digital citizenship, employability skills, ethics, high school 101, information technology application, presentation skills, problem-solving, teamwork, and devising a 10-year plan for their future.

    All core subject areas -- English, math, science, and social studies -- are taught through the lens of a student's selected Academy and/or Pathway.

    The Business & Technology Academy includes these Pathways:

    Accounting & Finance
    Marketing & Management
    Information Technology

    The Human Services Academy includes these Pathways:

    PreK-12 Education
    Health Services
    Public Services 

    The Science & Industry Academy includes these Pathways: 

    Agriculture Science
    Architecture & Construction

    All students will have opportunities to take global courses: International Languages, Leadership, Physical Education, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts.

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Where We Started...

  • The Belton School District is working within the Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) framework to transform Belton High School.  The Framework is comprised of three distinct, but interconnected strands, which enable the community to design and carry out the plan.  The Ford NGL framework outlines a process which involves all community stakeholders.

    Career and interest-themed academies serve as the model for transforming the secondary school experience.  The academies provide a foundation for the mastery of academic, 21st century, and technical knowledge and skills to prepare students for high interest, high skill, and high wage employment. Additionally, the high expectations and academic rigor of college preparatory academic programs are infused with real world relevance and the rigor of Career Technical Education.

    Students choose a Career Pathway within an Academy that uses the power of workplace relevance and business relationships to excite young people about their education.  An example would be a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Academy. Within the academy, career pathways could include Biomedical Science, Computer Science or Engineering.

    Three key characteristics are at the foundation of Career and Interest-Themed Academies:

    • The career or thematic program of study supports an area of personal interest and integrates it with core academic knowledge.  This program of study is supported by a small learning community.
    • The academies are part of a district strategy to offer a portfolio of approaches (multiple pathways) so that every student has the opportunity to choose a program that fits a personal interest.
    • The programs offer extensive real-world contact with adults currently working in the field or area of interest, and they enable students to earn dual enrollment and/or articulated college-level credits while still in high school.

    As student engagement is enhanced, improvement in student achievement is expected.  This, we believe, contributes to a stronger workforce and ultimately, strengthens economic development and community prosperity.

    In January 2018, our preparation process entered the Master Plan development phase. Identification of the Academies and Pathways of Belton was completed and collaboration with community businesses and key stakeholders continued. High school staff were selected and trained during the 2018-19 school year, and the curriculum developed and aligned and opportunities for student input provided.

    In the Fall of 2019, the Class of 2023 entered Belton High School as the first class to fully participate in the Academies.