Seven Academies in All
In addition to the four themed academies at the core of our plan, we also have a continuation and strengthening of Freshman Academy, the launch of a Newcomer Academy, and the further development of the alternative high school programs into Opportunity Academy (see below for details). In total, we propose 7 high school level academies:
The Freshman Academy was established at Holyoke High in 2016-17 to assist with the transition from 8th to 9th grade and strengthen students’ success in 9th grade and beyond. The foundation of the Freshman Academy is for each student to belong to a team of core content teachers who “own” the student’s success. This requires three teams of four core content teachers each. This structure allows for stronger:
- Introduction to high school through a shared summer experience, which allows students to learn about the expectations of high school, become familiar with the environment and logistics of a larger building and begin to develop new relationships with peers and staff,
- Implementation of “freshman on track” to increase the likelihood of all students staying on track to graduate high school,
- Academic, behavior and social emotional supports for students,
- Academic and career planning as supported through our new MAPP process (My Action Plan and Portfolio, which is an Individual Learning Plans (ILP) for each student),
- Team building and a sense of belonging, and
- Mentorship and guidance by teams of caring adults who know each student well.
The Freshman Academy also supports the exploration of and transition to the theme-based academies for grades 10-12.
Students who have recently entered the school system for the first time with limited English proficiency may join the Newcomers Academy for up to one year. In this academy, students will continue to progress in Spanish in most core academic courses. Expert instruction in language development speeds the growth of English skills and academic learning simultaneously. This is a small, specialized academy; the size of the academy will fluctuate based on the number of students who qualify. In this past year, 40 students (36 from Holyoke High, 4 from Dean) would have benefited from belonging to a Newcomers Academy.
The Newcomers Academy is, by design, a short-term support for students new to the English language. Most students who are learning English, including those who have gone through Newcomers Academy, will choose a theme-based academy and pursue a personalized path with support from ESL teachers, just as students with disabilities will pursue pathways within academies with support from special education teachers.