Middletown High is partnering with businesses and organizations across the region to help provide a more well rounded, "real world" education to students. #RealWorld #MiddletownHigh #MiddletownRI
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COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS HELP
BRING “REAL WORLD” TO MIDDLETOWN HIGH
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (MARCH 31, 2021) – These days, it’s not uncommon to hear criticism of public schools for not exposing students enough to the “real world.”
At Middletown High, Principal Dr. Jeffrey Heath said it would be tough to get more “real,” thanks not only to the learning in the classroom but a number of partnerships the Valley Road school has established in the community.
Whether it’s the Oliver Hazard Perry program, Olympic Physical Therapy, the Newport Festivals Foundation, Newport Hospital or others, Heath said students have been thriving through the new opportunities to get a dose of life after high school, whether that’s in the workforce, college or beyond.
Heath will address the Town Council Monday night at 6:30 pm in Town Hall, where he’s slated to speak about career education and exploration opportunities at his school.
“Right now, we have about 30 students who are doing online learning through the Newport Festivals about everything from audio engineering to songwriting and the legalities of the music business,” Heath said. “And this isn’t just theory. This is learning from those people who are actually in the business today. Like all our partnerships, it’s been an excellent opportunity for our students to expand their horizons.”
Speaking this week about the partnerships program, Heath said it was tough to find many positives out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted education across the globe for the past two years.
However, one would be how teachers like those in the Middletown school system and elsewhere pivoted quickly and adopted technology to bring their classrooms wherever students were. While the method didn’t work for everyone and would never replace the quality of an “in person” educational experience, Heath said it opened possibilities to educators everywhere.
“There weren’t many silver linings to COVID, but it’s been well documented how our educators were admirably able to switch over in a week and provide quality lessons remotely to our students,” Heath said. “Before COVID, Skype and Zoom existed, but now we see the possibilities.”
Heath said some students are enrolling in the classes offered by community partners to expand their horizons. For others, it’s a way to recover course credits to try to graduate on time. Whatever the reason a student opts to get involved, Heath said the community partnerships have been paying strong dividends.
School and Town leaders applauded Heath and his team for their work to offer the best, most well-rounded education possible to Middletown students.
“Partnerships are part of our strategic plan goals as a school district,” Superintendent Rosemarie K. Kraeger said. “Partnerships are an integral part of a solid school system because they enhance learning opportunities by providing students with resources, experiences, and environments they would not otherwise have.
“Partnerships can serve to strengthen and support our schools and our programs. Partnerships result in improved program quality, more efficient use of resources, and should better alignment of goals and curriculum.”
Lifelong educator Barbara A. VonVillas, who serves on the Town Council, agreed.
“Following discussions that began last summer, Jeff became a real advocate for expanding the existing focused career education programs to career exploration for all students,” VonVillas said. “Throughout the fall and winter, he developed a survey course that has generated a lot of student interest. In addition, in an effort to assist students who lack credits for graduation, he reached out to the local trades and developed working partnerships that not only offered opportunities for those students to recover credits but also inspired some of them to commit time beyond what was required.
“This is a perfect example of opportunities beyond the school day resulting from the knowledge and commitment of administrators and teachers who have the most understanding and knowledge of what is needed and the best way to achieve it.”
In coming months, Heath said Middletown High students will have a chance to sample classes at the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy and the Department of Computer Science & Statistics. There’s also an upcoming effort at the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol, where students will be able to work hands on with the boat building materials used by the experts.
All of these offerings are in addition to the groundbreaking Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) happening in the labs of Middletown High under the Project Lead The Way model.
Heath said the aim of all the course work at Middletown High is to best prepare students for life after twelfth grade in today’s rapidly evolving 21st century world.
“Some people think we only need to focus on the basics and yes, those give you the foundation to learn and grow,” Heath said. “Saying that, we need to give our students as many additional opportunities as we can to add all the value we can to that Middletown High School diploma.”
Document Link: https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/4289/NYCU-real-world