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Three staff members from Ava High School presented at the national professional development conference hosted by SREB, Southwest Regional Education Board, in July 2010.
Raising the Bar: Rigor, Relevance, & Relationships was presented by Teresa Nash, Airin Roberts, and Clint Gazette.
“This class is going to be tough, but it matters. It’s relevant,” English/language arts teacher Airin Roberts tells her students.
To make the learning go down easier, she peppers her classes with hands-on projects to engage students in their studies and to show them what will be expected in college and careers.
Collaboration and communication are key to students success in Clint Gazette’s History courses that are driven by the projects guided by his Wiki-spaces site.
Students complete 28 credits for graduation. They have access to Advanced Placement (AP) and dual-credit courses. They also take classes that prepare them to be proficient in the use of modern technology.
When a HSTW (High Schools That Work) technical assistance team visited the school, Principal Teresa Nash paid careful attention to the team’s three major recommendations: Add a literacy coach to the staff, create professional learning communities and assign more project-based learning.
The literacy coach, Doris Chunn, and the entire staff implemented a comprehensive literacy plan for all students.
The school uses Scholastic Reading Inventory, a computer-based reading assessment, to measure students’ reading skills in grades nine and 10.
Students who are two years behind are enrolled in a mandatory reading class using the Laubach reading program.
The literacy coach works closely with the language arts department to develop literacy plans and the principal instituted mandatory literacy sessions each month to provide teachers new ways to strengthen students’ reading and writing skills.
Teachers meet in small professional learning communities (PLCs) to identify the standards to be tested each month and to plan interventions that are student-specific and skill-specific.
Teachers in the PLCs practiced scoring writing prompts and taught students how to score them as well.
The PLCs are also used by teachers to develop integrated academic and career/technical projects as recommended in the HSTW technical assistance report.
The Ava R-1 District has implemented a district-wide early-release every Wednesday to give teachers at all levels time to collaborate and analyze data.
Ava High School has experienced a cultural shift by setting high expectations and connecting students to real-life situations.
“Teachers constantly collaborate to find ways to inspire students to prepare for an ever-changing world,” Nash said.