Students at the Bridgescape Learning Academy in Chicago’s Englewood area have turned this year’s election into a social studies learning experience, thanks to teachers Ms. Van Meter and Ms. Owens. Not only did they come to understand the important role citizens need to play in selecting government officials, those who were eligible, actually took advantage of early voting to make their voices heard.
GARY — If you stop by Jamie Wolverton’s introduction to engineering class at Roosevelt College and Career Academy, you might find students on the floor building a roller coaster, or at their desk calculating the materials, labor cost, profit and overhead for a bridge project.
The high school seniors are getting a taste of what it would take to be an engineer. The class gives high school seniors an opportunity to explore careers in engineering, and they earn a couple of credits because it’s a dual credit class through Ivy Tech Community College.
So far, students have built a bridge, a roller coaster and a speed ball machine.
As the teens move around the classroom separating into groups, Wolverton is talking above the chatter telling students to look at the items they will need for their projects. She also gives them a three-day deadline to finish them. The students use kits to put the projects together.
“You will be able to determine your labor costs by looking at the number of employees you will need, how much you will pay them per hour and how long it will take them to complete the project,” she tells students.
“Say, the worker makes $20 per hour and you need him to work eight hours a day, for a week. Figure out that cost, figure in your overhead cost for things like computers, a receptionist, office space, paper and pens. Figure the profit you want for your company, then decide how much you will bid for the project,” Wolverton said.
Wolverton said she wants students to learn the engineering design process, and each step it takes to complete a project.
“AutoCad has been installed on their computers, and they’ll be doing an online course to understand the process,” Wolverton said.
Senior Tarrence Montgomery, who works two part-time jobs, said his goal is to major in automotive engineering. He hasn’t made a decision on where he’s going to college but he believes the skills he’s learning in this introductory course will help him.
Senior Maliyah Norfleet said her goal is to become an engineer, and this class is giving her a feel for what it would be like to get into engineering. “I’m enjoying learning how to do the calculations to bid a job. Reading the blueprints is a little more challenging. It’s always good to have a plan B,” she said.
Despite so many positives at the school, Gary Roosevelt, which is operated by a private company, continues to struggle and face academic challenges. Roosevelt Principal Donna Henry said administrators work hard to empower its students.
“We’re in our fifth year of operation, and the parents are now familiar with us. They know we have the students’ best interest at heart,” she said.
In a report Henry made to the Indiana Department of Education last month, she said Roosevelt’s enrollment declined and is now at 606 students. It lost students to Gary New Tech, a high school operated by the Gary Community School Corp., and local charter schools.
However, Henry said the number fluctuates due to enrollments and transfers.
Although ISTEP-Plus test results have not yet been released publicly, Henry pointed out that students are showing growth.
Henry said Roosevelt has dramatically reduced its suspension and expulsion rate. In September 2015, a month after school started there were 83 suspensions. That’s compared to September 2016 when the number of suspensions was at 55.
Administrators said they’ve been able to create a healthy and safe school environment for teachers and students. She said the student attendance rate is currently above 90 percent.
Roosevelt also offers an alternative school and a credit recovery program. The alternative school is used in lieu of expulsion. Henry said if a student has an infraction that would cause them to be expelled, they are offered an opportunity to attend the alternative school, which is held during the school day.
“Those students come in an hour earlier and (are dismissed) an hour earlier,” Henry said. “The focus is to get them to correct their behavior. We’ve had some successes with students who have earned their way back into the traditional program.”
This week, 3 students and 2 staff members from Kingsthorpe College – an EdisonLearning UK partnership school – are visiting Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy in Gary, Indiana; and Bridgescape Learning Academies in Chicago.
The tour offers a unique and exceptional opportunity for both UK and American students to experience and learn about the different countries’ culture, education system, and politics; as well as allowing them to share their own cultural and educational backgrounds and experiences.
It is the result of EdisonLearning’s International Pilot Program Committee, which seeks to establish links between the educators and students in partnership schools in the U.S. and U.K. Kingsthorpe College is involved in the Collaborative Academies Trust, for which EdisonLearning UK is the prime sponsor.
Lailah Wesby of Gary is a champion track star at a young age, earning gold and bronze medals at the recent AAU 14-Under Youth National Indoor Championship in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Her biggest supporter is her older brother, Brandon Wesby, who is a successful track coach, and a staff member at Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy.
For both Lailah and Brandon, this competition held at the Bowen Fieldhouse on the campus of Eastern Michigan University brought mixed emotions, for it was at this facility that their late mother, Lisa Wesby, last saw her daughter compete.
"Eastern Michigan is my favorite place to run. It's the last place my mom saw me run so I try to do really good there," said Lailah. A strong supporter of Lailah's academics and athletics, their mother "never missed a beat," said Brandon, the girls track coach at East Chicago Central.
This week, Lailah Wesby received a special visit from three female Olympians on Monday's episode of "Steve Harvey" -- https://youtu.be/TSdiMzrBS-M. Harvey introduced her to Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin, who each won a medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the Rio Olympics. The women made history by giving the United States its first sweep in that event.
In addition, Harvey surprised Branden with a $5,000 gift on behalf of Green Dot, the issuer of prepaid debit cards, to help with Lailah’s training and travel expenses.
Similar to school accountability measures and standards implemented in the United States, the work of our colleagues in the UK comes under the review of the government agency – Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. Ofsted inspects and regulates services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.
In the recent “Primary Education Report to Parliament” one of the schools participating in EdisonLearning UK’s Aspire program – Jane Duke Junior School in Basildon, Essex, England, was highlighted. Below is the report:
In 2015 OFSTED graded the Jane Duke Junior School as “Requires Improvement”. Nonetheless with good leadership highlighted and good behaviour and safety. We were commended for our systems of safeguarding children’s welfare practice – ‘The school’s work to keep pupils safe and secure is outstanding’.
Amongst our successes in 2015 we saw a Good Level of Development for Early Years Foundation Stage rise from 44% to 64%, the Year 1 phonics check rose from 56% to 71%, our Infant Average Points Score improved and the Year 6 results increased by more than 10% at level 4 combined and increased outcomes in all three progress measures. How did we achieve this?
In 2013 we were approached by a cluster of schools which were working with National Association of Head-teachers and the DfE to develop an improvement programme with EdisonLearning – delivering the Aspire programme. We joined this school improvement partnership known as Aspire and have seen a number of benefits as a result.
We have embedded quality teaching and learning by developing goals to achieve the OFSTED schedule and national expectations. We have identified what adults do to ensure learners are effective and improving their results. The project has also allowed us to develop distributed leadership more effectively.
Key leadership roles for five strands were allocated to staff and have focused on the school’s desired outcomes and the vehicles to get us there. Leadership has focused on asking staff to take on responsibility across the school with teachers in charge playing a vital role on school improvement with year group leaders and subject leaders taking ownership and accountability of improved outcomes for pupils.
The assessment for learning strand has developed our systems in order to access, track and plan for pupil learning. We use achievement team meetings to focus on the outcomes and barriers to success for the pupils. The staff then worked together to find solutions and report back and develop further as the needs of the pupils dictate.
The Aspire pilot has allowed us to embed further what we do well and explore other opportunities to improve the outcomes for all our pupils. We are now developing this further through the Basildon Excellence Panel, working in clusters with other Basildon schools for the good of all the pupils within Basildon. Our aim is to have every school in Basildon with good and outstanding OFSTED ratings.