By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Staples Motley High School will be opening an innovative high school within its current school this fall. Connections High School, an idea that sprung from years of collaboration between educators, parents and the community, will address the needs for more career-based education.
Connections High School’s mission is to build connections to the community and to each student’s future.
It will be a small learning community for up to 40 students. The setting will be highly personalized for each student and the hands-on learning will use career and technical education plus projects to achieve credits and meet standards.
“This is another high school option for all students in ninth – 12th grade,” said Board Member and health care careers instructor at Staples Motley High School Donna Bestland.
The new school will be highly technical and career-based. Its goal is to graduate students and ensure they have a plan for their future.
Kajer said that so many students are turned off by high school, not seeing the connection to their future. She wants to put the passion back into learning.
“When the students leave here, they will know where they are going,” said Kajer. “We have failed if they leave without options.”
The Connections High School is for all types of students. It will help the student who knows exactly what they want to do with their future and will assist those students to are not really sure how they want to proceed.
“This school is for students who are hands-on learners. It will put them in charge of their curriculum and their own learning,” said Board Member Lisa Kajer. “When that happens, they get excited about learning.”
Each student will be required to choose their own projects to work on. They will have their own work station and choose how they learn, through those projects.
The state’s graduation standards do not change for these students and each student still needs to pass all the required tests to graduate.
“Each student will have an individual education plan,” said Bestland.
Those plans need to be rigorous and be approved by advisers. Those advisers track the students to ensure they meet graduation standards.
Students leaning toward a construction career need to know English, they need to know math, etc. The same is true with a medical career. Core subjects are incorporated into the individual projects.
“With all the cuts schools are seeing, technology seems to be one of the first things to go because it’s not a core class,” said Kajer. “This will give students both traditional classes through seminars and project-based technology.”
Board Member Sue Boeh-land said that today, there are half the career and technology teachers than there were a decade ago. Family and consumer services, business, education, agriculture and industrial technology have all been cut or eliminated.
“We need to integrate academics with career learning. Connections will create a smooth transition from high school to college,” she said.
Students are required to apply for the school. They will then be assessed to determine their goals, career interests and learning styles.
Parents and students are welcome to attend two informational meetings scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 30, and Thursday, Aug. 8, in Room 601 at the Staples Motley High School.
For more information, call the Staples Motley High School at (218) 894-2430, (218) 894-5400, ext. 3005, or download an application at www.connectionshighschool.org.