New classes, programs will begin at Minnetonka next school year
Minnetonka High School students will have greater class selection beginning in the 2013-2014 school year.
The Minnetonka School Board approved 12 new classes, as well as a new program to address real-world business experience.
Though new classes are customarily offered each year, the proposal for next year’s new courses is unusually high.
“Sometimes you have one or two being proposed, this year you have a number of them being proposed,” said Supt. Dennis Peterson.
The courses were presented to the Teacher Learning and Advisory Committee, and have had good feedback thus far, says Steve Urbanski, Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Urbanski says the courses are designed to expand student options as well as courses that are really more designed to meet some new standards, specifically in social studies.
Whether each course is a go depends on student enrollment.
“They (the courses) will be offered in terms of the Skipper Log [the district’s course catalog], and all of these courses in terms of whether or not they run, enrollment will determine all of that,” said Urbanski. “Obviously any time you have a first-year course there are some pieces you’ll want to come back and evaluate and potentially tweak.”
The Global Study and Economics course will be required for the half-credit of the 3.5 credits needed for social studies in 12th-grade
“The pathway it gives kids to think about their future, it’s great,” said board member Lisa Sumner. “They are all right on track for giving them experiential classroom time for the future.”
Also new for next school year is the Vantage Program. This is a three-credit course that prepares students for real-world business experience. It’s immersion in a business environment, says Chris Pears, one of the teachers helping to facilitate the program.
Students will spend half their day off site working on projects and meeting with professionals in business and industry. They will build relationships with businesses around the community and work with them through mentorships, projects and other collaboration.
“That business environment over the next few years will blossom into … a variety of fields,” Pears said.
The program was modeled after a program at a school in Overland, Kan., known as Center for Advanced Personal Studies.
The college-level education will cover economics, business and management and business communication. Two credits can be earned for social studies and English and one for an elective. It will also be recognized for college credits.
Pears says empowering students to work in an adult and business environments allows them to wrestle with real-world problems.
“We’re taking it to the next level by taking principles of business and economics and infusing it with a real-world environment with real-world business problems,” Pears said.
Though, it’s not just teaching students; it’s preparing them for what to expect on many levels, Pears says.
“You have to create the business environment,” he said.
That includes such things as the proper clothing and an advanced level of interaction with other members of the business community – business etiquette skills.
As technology continues to evolve the business world, Pears says there are a variety of mediums that need to be mastered in order to present a message. Also as part of the program, students will conduct research on businesses issues, much like a consultant would.
“When you take that context of being able to do real-world research, it’s exactly like what they’d be doing three or four years down the road when they emerge from undergrad school,” Pears said. “When you’re interacting with executives in a variety of different levels, it’s definitely a different kind of experience.”
Internships, says teacher Erik Sill, only provide experience with one company.
“These kids will be going to different locations and meeting with different guest lecturers and being exposed to even more corporate settings,” Sill said.
As a way to curb “senioritis,” a common ailment of seniors slacking off before graduation, Sill says they will be meeting standards but not realizing it because of the hands-on, unique work that will be required of them.
Getting ahead of the curve is a must, the educators say, in today’s high-demand business climate.
“What this program seeks to do is not try to predict what are going to be the specific business areas in four to five years, because none of us really know,” Pears said. “What they’ll be doing is really more developing the mind-set to operate in a fluid, varied and uncertain business environment.”
Board member Pam Langseth says it’s the real-world experience that will really catapult students ahead when applying for positions after college graduation.
“I think it’s going to be an extraordinary live experience and real experience to really learn about a concept, but then really put it into action and understand it from a business professional point of view, which is a unique experience for a high schooler today,” Langseth said.
Parent information meetings will be held at the end of January and beginning of February.
Proposed new courses at Minnetonka High School
• English 12 Speech – a hybrid course
• Theory of Knowledge
• Environmental Science
• Sports, Exercise and Health Science
• Food Science Biology
• World Studies
• Honors World Studies
• Human Geography and Civics,
• Global Studies and Economics
• Airbrush 2
• Civil Engineering and Architecture
• “GAME: IT,” a video game design course
Contact Chris Dillmann at email@example.com