PINCKNEY NEW TECH HIGH SCHOOL
PORTAIT OF A GRADUATE
Each student completes a 40-hour internship prior to graduation in order to earn their New Tech seal on their diploma. To clear the path to greater access to realizing the career awareness goal of this expectation, we’ve made a number of moves: In addition to a 40-hour internship, students now also have the option to pursue 2-5 days of job shadowing to fulfill the requirement, with 2 of those days being excused as “School Activity” days during the school year. This creates the opportunity to explore a variety of careers and to do so during school hours.
The team feels ownership of the program and is committed to its success, despite having to contend with the inherent complexities of a shared campus, including teaching only a part of their day with NTH. Thankfully, more of their day will be spent within NTH next year due to growth in student enrollment. We are a team with shared, self-professed personal values, including family and spirituality, and who share a common understanding of our desired outcomes: aware, critical and active citizens who are college and career ready. Students also express that they feel the team communicates well about project schedules so students do not get overwhelmed, which suggests a common commitment to student success.
We have a Student Voice group who meets bi-weekly during a common lunch, supported by Director McBride. The group is voluntary and accessible to all students, who can simply bring their lunch up to our Green Screen Room. This group’s purpose is to drive the approach to our monthly NTH Advisory sessions, while continuously informing improvements to NTH overall. This group has evolved into a living, breathing student-led endeavor that continues to expand our team’s notion of what’s possible. It is an absolute joy to observe what can happen when you simply clear the path for student leaders to run with ideas that nicely line up with our purpose as a school. We attribute our boost in enrollment largely to the marketing ideas and efforts of this group.
STRUCTURES FOR PROJECT BASED LEARNING
We have a common launch to the year that is shared by all Sophomore teachers and works to onboard new students, with projects focused on what PBL is, on the outcomes, and on Echo. All implementing staff are trained on PBL, including some who are NTN Certified Trainers. Courses are wall-to-wall PBL, with some more problem-based work in Science courses due to emphasis on NGSS-alignment as a school-wide department. Our staff actively seeks critical feedback from one another on project ideas or for project refinement. Staff shares a thematic purpose for their courses: Developing aware, informed, critical, and active citizens of the country and world.
ASSESSMENT AND ECHO PRACTICES
As an added bright spot, 2 of our Sophomore teachers organized their personal student growth goal in service of developing our new students’ Agency across the year. They’ve worked together to grow their understanding of the Agency rubric, to design and share scaffolds around 1-2 specific Agency indicators, and to use evidence of students’ improvement in these areas as a measure of their own performance this year.
In addition to our annual onboarding projects for our new class of students, we also have a consistent partnership with one of our elementary schools with aspirations to extend that effort to both our other elementary school as well as into the middle grades. As a part of this partnership, our NTH Seniors serve as collaboration and tech coaches for small teams of elementary students, supporting them through design projects. They work with a different grade level each quarter, on projects including designing and building seed dispersal mechanisms, wind-powered boats and cars, and concluding with an egg drop event at the high school with Kindergartners. This partnership has many benefits for all parties involved, including starting early with informing students about New Tech and project-based learning. We also have a vibrant Student Voice group who spearheads much of our marketing efforts, including presentations and tours for prospective incoming Sophomores, helping to inform them about what New Tech is and why it might be the right choice.