This editorial was featured in Sunday’s Lapeer County press. Click here to subscribe.
Earlier this month, after spending an afternoon meeting with policymakers in Lansing, I stopped by the auditorium at Lapeer East High School for one of the District’s Innovation Nights. More than 200 people came out on a snow day to hear from members of our administrative team about one of the exciting new programs coming to Lapeer in the fall — College on Campus.
The concept of high school students earning college credits in our buildings, inside their traditional class schedules, has a lot of parents and students fired up about the future.
For me, the evening embodied what Lapeer Community Schools is all about.
We aren’t sitting idly by waiting for a cure to what is ailing so many school districts across the state. We have a voice in Lansing and attentive ears to changes happening at the state level, but our eyes are fixed on the future. We have solutions right here, in our town, that will be modeled by our neighbors – solutions that are being talked about in Lansing.
Over the last three years, we’ve developed a secondary program for our students that will be unparalled in the region. Don’t take my word for it; come see for yourself at our final Innovation Night at 6 p.m. on Feb. 11 at Zemmer Middle School.
As the largest educational institution in Lapeer County, we shoulder the greater share of responsibility for preparing our young people for the future. I encourage all of you to take a close look at what the future holds for students in Lapeer; that said, even a passing glance is enough to realize what we are aiming for: college and career readiness.
Our youngest students must be prepared for advancement to a middle-level program that will have more opportunities for rigor than ever before: Flexible scheduling for intervention and academic stretch before and after school, implementation of the nation’s leading STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum, the state’s first middle-level year-round program, SpringBoard English curriculum for high school credit and much more.
Similarly, our middle-level students must be prepared for a high school experience that is focused on college readiness. By the time our younger students get to high school, our teachers will build upon a foundation of understanding that started on day one. And when they get there, they won’t know that their experience was never the norm – but their parents will.
Our high school students, as mentioned above, will have opportunities to earn college credits through our College and Campus program and Advanced Placement (AP). Those who take on the challenge will be better prepared for college rigor, and their parents will save thousands in tuition costs.
In the coming weeks, we will introduce you to a high school senior who, thanks to our expanding AP program, will graduate high school with more than 30 college credits. So how will she answer the question, “what’s your diploma worth?”
You’ll meet an enterprising student who started taking college-level math courses with Michigan State University while he was still in middle school.
Since no two students are exactly alike, we strive to reach all students where they are with a multitude of options to suit their needs and interests. We don’t believe in the factory model for our students. If they are ready for more, we’re going to provide them with more.
It doesn’t end there. Flexible scheduling at the middle level will carry over to high school, as we offer transportation for both enrichment and intervention. We will open our Center for Innovation – West Campus (currently West High school) as our home for numerous academic and extracurricular programs including dual enrollment, AP, robotics, alternative education and outdoor athletics. We will start the 2014-15 school year as the only school district in the state to offer AP Capstone, an innovative diploma program that engages students in the rigorous scholarly practice of core academic skills required for success in college.
As we inch closer to the historic consolidation of East and West High Schools, I want to reaffirm my commitment to the families of this school district. This merger will not only have a far-reaching impact on our community, but will open our students up to more opportunities than ever before.
As has been reported in this newspaper in the last week, our local economy is still struggling. Our local jobless rate is back in double digits and the national economy is recovering from recession at a historically slow pace. There are reasons to be uncertain about the future; your local school district is not one them.
Our focus is on the whole child, improving our academic and athletic programs, facilities and, ultimately, becoming a model school district in Michigan. This is an expectation, not a hope.
In this endeavor, we are too committed to fail.