THORNDIKE —  A scheduling overhaul at Mount View High School will result in students taking more classes next fall.

Principal Cheri Towle said extra courses will translate into additional graduation credits, more in-depth study and greater learning opportunities for children in Regional School District 3.

A win, win, win, she said.

The change, said the first-year principal, will also assist the 11-town school district move toward standard-based learning, wherein youth show they understand required standards and concepts then move forward.

In standards-based or proficiency-based learning, students move at their own pace and choose from a number of options how to demonstrate they know the material.

“Like with any new principal I asked the staff and students what they thought the strengths of the school were,” she said. “We wanted to take the best practices and see what it could look like.”

A scheduling committee was formed, students developed a code of conduct and teachers visited area schools where standards-based learning was in place.

The result is that Mount View will seek to give students more “voice and choice in” and responsibility for, their education and future, said Towle.

Mount View High School students currently take as many as six year-long courses.

Beginning next year, they’ll have two 17-week semesters in which they’ll take four classes each, or eight courses per year.

Towle said she expects the changes to be positive for students and teachers.

By taking four courses at a time rather than six, she said students will be able to dig deeper into the material.

The schedule will make it easier, for instance, for a student who loves languages to complete four “years” of study of a foreign language in just two.

With the revamped schedule, teachers will have fewer students per semester and be better able to provide one-on-one instruction, Towle said.

With the restructuring, she said teachers who now regularly have 120 to 160 students per year will next year have 60 to 80 students per semester.

Teachers will also see students each day rather than every other day as they do now.

Each class will run 76 minutes, said Towle, and all students will have a 30-minute lunch and 30-minute study hall/advisory period in the middle of the day.

Two teachers instructing the same course at the same time of day will also be able to share students and group and regroup those moving at a similar paces.

In the two-week session between semesters, teens will have a chance to choose from about 50 exploratories — hands-on topics they’d like to check out.

The topics assembled thus far run the gamut, from baseball history through film, to pottery, and from gaining outdoor survival skills to building a robot or cooking cuisine from around the world.

Towle said she’ll teach an exploratory titled Exploring Careers with Animals. The course description indicates the class will include trips to animals shelters, kennels and farms and that students will job shadow a veterinarian or other person involved in the field.

Another exploratory, Introduction to Law Enforcement, will be taught by School Resource Officer Gerry Lincoln of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office. Students will visit the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, courts and jails and learn about fingerprinting, crime scene processing and interviewing and interrogation.

Members of the public have also signed on to teach archery, dance, digital photography and yoga exploratories. Towle invited area residents who would like to share their expertise to contact her at the high school.

“They’re aligned to the (learning) standards,” Towle said of the exploratories. “And they allow students to peak into a career to see if they might be interested. They could open doors for students.”

The last day or two of the two-week exploratory intensive, students will have exhibits and demonstrations for  community members.

All of the exploratories, as well as all the courses to be offered in 2012-13, are included in Mount View High School’s Program of Studies. The 87-page document details offerings, goals and expectations for the year.

Students will also have opportunities to take college-level classes, pursue internships and expand their chances to learn beyond the hours of the school day, Towle said.

In addition to the Waldo County Technical Center, Towle said Mount View High School students can take classes at Unity College, the University of Maine at Orono, UMaine Hutchinson Center, University of Maine at Augusta, Thomas College, Colby College, Kennebec Valley Community College and Husson University. Juniors and seniors can participate in internships and independent projects and seniors can opt for taking part in a work-release program.

Students will receive the Program of Studies packet on April 12, just prior to April vacation; they’ll register for classes April 24.

To facilitate the process, Towle said a Parent Night is scheduled for April 12 at 6 p.m., at the Clifford Performing Arts Center at the high school.

Towle said the scheduling change is a step forward, but she recently told the school board that it is not “the end all.”

The goal, she said, is to prepare students for the road ahead.

Beth Staples — 861-9252
[email protected]