After Receiving Grant, Princeton High Looks to Individualize Student Attention
Freshmen entering Princeton High School may soon look forward to more individualized attention now that the school will be receiving $300,000 a year for the next three years as part of the Small Learning Community Implementation grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The grant is designed to create smaller group settings in the high school in an effort to personalize the educational experience for all students. The school is exploring three different options for how it will use the money, said Principal Gary Snyder.
One option could be to create three ninth grade "academies" to break down the class of approximately 350 students into smaller groups. These academies, or small learning communities, could meet twice a month to discuss school issues in a town-meeting format. The groups could also host guest speakers.
In addition, the grant could help fund advisors for the program, designating someone for every 10 to 15 students. The advisor would meet with his or her designated group on a regular basis to discuss prevalent issues in the ninth grade, as well as meeting one-on-one with students who need particular attention.
A third option would be to develop a personal learning plan for every ninth grader, which would be individualized for each student. With the aid of an advisor, the students would map out the necessary steps to reach their goals.
Princeton High started the process of planning small learning communities during the past school year by having a group of approximately 18 teachers meet regularly to discuss the possibilities. This summer, teachers and administrators attended a conference in Mystic, Conn., where they began to sketch out the plans for implementation.
"Many of the specific plans are still being developed for the 2004-05 school year," said Mr. Snyder, adding that teachers are meeting during the month of August to further develop the program.
"Over the next three years additional components of implementation will evolve," he added.
While beginning with a focus on helping ninth graders transition into high school, the program will eventually personalize the learning experience for all students through twelfth grade, said Mr. Snyder: "The ultimate goal is to improve student learning and student achievement."
He added that forming smaller learning communities at the high school and giving students and teachers a voice in decision-making, along with building positive relationships among faculty and students, will help Princeton High School achieve the academic excellence it is always striving for.
"PHS is poised to continue in the role of a benchmark school for the state and nation," said Mr. Snyder.