Monroe Christian High School website is live

In advance of an upcoming parent information meeting, we have now completed our information website for the new high school. This site will be used to present general information about the school to the public. I am anticipating a separate student portal that will provide links for current students once we begin learning together in September.

The Monroe Christian High School website is now live!

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The Vancouver Symposium on Christian Education – Day 1

Today was the pre-conference day to discuss specific elements of digital learning strategies and methods as applicable to the Christian School. It was a good day together. Unlike other conferences that I attended, I found that the day included quality breakout sessions and meaningful conversations all around. I was impressed by the sense of collegiality that permeated the various sessions and I had a chance to meet some very dedicated professional educators. I chose to attend three specific sessions.

Success Strategies for the Business of Education helped us reconfigure the business and marketing end of schooling. Of the many insights I gained, I thought the most simple and practical was to get students involved in the touring process for prospective students and families, especially at the middle and high school levels. This can definitely help students see themselves “fitting in” which is so important when families enroll or transfer to the school. I realized that we do this on our university campus, so it makes sense here. I wonder why we didn’t think of this before.

Physical + Virtual = Space for Learning challenged us to reconsider our use of physical and virtual space in teaching and learning. This was a brilliant presentation of what can be, especially with regards to self-directed, competency-based learning. I like the emphasis to keep relationship and community deeply centered in the learning landscape.

Change Leadership for Dynamic Times offered some insight into leading change in a school where some resistance may be encountered. An eight stage approach to ensure effective change was shared. I found the first step, namely “creating a sense of urgency in what needs to be done” as one of the more important steps since it helped focus energies on initiating the process of necessary and better change in the school.

This was a good day to start the symposium. I will definitely need to review and consider my notes and ideas a bit further, especially as they apply to the high school project.

What if we worked together?

What if a number of smaller K-8 Christian schools decided to partner together to share resources as we develop our own high schools based on a 21st century learning model?

This question was behind a special meeting today to discuss a proposal for the Pacific Northwest Christian High School Consortium. The leaders from four Christian schools in the NWCSI region met to start developing a shared vision for working together. With great appreciation to CSI Online Academy for hosting the event, we were able to envision how the academy can play an important role in this partnership.

There was interest in the room, as each school has faced the incredible organizational and financial hurdles of wanting to expand 9-12. I enjoyed meeting with building leaders who share a similar passion of excellence in Christian education. I have a feeling that the schools will be watching Monroe Christian School very closely as we “break new ground” in our attempts for a new high school.

The Vancouver Symposium on Christian Education

With much anticipation, I received notice today of my acceptance as a full participant to The Vancouver Symposium on Christian Education for the 21st Century! I have been quite excited about this conference, as I see it as a valuable opportunity for networking, resource gathering and sharing our vision for Monroe Christian School.

From their website: “This symposium will be the second of three annual events that will bring together innovative Christian Leaders for the purpose of dialogue and leadership for the K-12 Christian school movement. The three year goal of these meetings will be to give vision and direction to the global Christian School movement. This will culminate in a pedagogical manifesto for Christian Education in the 21st Century to be completed in the summer of 2013.”

I find that the manifesto drafting process will add a significant focus and value to our time together, as we deliberately attempt to influence education for this century.

Looking forward to Vancouver!

A visit with the pastors

I had an important meeting yesterday afternoon to share our developing vision for a new Christian high school in Monroe. The MCS Administrator and I were invited to spend a couple of minutes with a group of pastors from the local churches in Monroe.

We shared our vision for a high school that would equip students for the 21st century; a vision to prepare students for discipleship and stewardship.

I felt it important to communicate how we started on this project together and shared God’s whisper for a new high school. As I mentioned to them, after a rich history of Christian education in the local community for more than 50 years, we believe that now may be the time to consider a new high school for Monroe.

We highlighted that the proposed high school would offer a high quality, Christian, secondary school education that is:

1. Focused on academic excellence; grounded in discipleship, stewardship and service,
2. Meets/exceeds minimum WA high school graduation requirements, and
3. Aligned with knowledge, skills, and competences required for the 21st century.

We ended by asking if the pastors and their churches would help us by praying for this significant expansion on Monroe Christian School, specifically for insight into God’s will for the school, the overall development and implementation process, and that families may come forward to choose Christian education for their children.

The pastors seemed open to our brief presentation. They had a few preliminary questions. One that surprised me was on the overall validity and effectiveness of this new approach to “doing” high school. I do believe that I was able to ease any concerns they might have had. I look forward to their support in prayer as we move forward.

The culminating project

A current WA high school graduation requirement is some form of a culminating project.  Theoretically, this project should be student initiated and serve as an important capstone achievement to document student learning while at high school.

Gardner (2011) tells of her school’s implementation of the “senior project.” She describes the project as a relevant, rigorous, and authentic assessment. It serves to strengthen connections with the local community and has become a “student-driven rite of passage” to celebrate one’s high school experience.  While completed in a student’s senior year, it is, actually, a demonstration of skills and knowledge acquired throughout high school, if not throughout all the K-12 years.

The process  includes:

  1. Students begin the project by selecting a topic of their choice. They are asked to describe the topic and explain how this will expand their learning in a letter that must be submitted and then approved in committee.
  2. The student then addresses the “4 P’s”: paper, project, portfolio, and presentation throughout the year.
  3. Paper – The students write a thesis-driven research paper on their topic. It includes has a specified length, a required number of references, appropriate visuals, and must include a report on an interview with an expert associated on the topic. Once the paper is approved, students can proceed to the next ‘P’.
  4. Project – Students then spend some time gathering data or conducting a field experience with a mentor in the field/community. A minimum number of hours is prescribed as part of the process. Students need to set-up these opportunities themselves.
  5. Portfolio – Students must document their project time with evidence in a digital portfolio. This will likely include video artifacts, journal entries, podcasts, images, etc.
  6. Presentation – Once the project and portfolio have been successfully completed, students share their project in a formal presentation before a panel of teachers, advisors, mentors and community members.

Gardner mentions a number of benefits in addition to the authentic learning experience that asks students to solve problems, read and write critically, and analyze the validity of information on the Internet. For example, students develop courtesy skills that are required in networking, foster a respect for academic integrity, learn to adhere to strict deadlines, dress professionally, and keep commitments. The feeling of empowerment after completing a significant project cannot be underestimated  either.

Reference:

Gardner, N. (2011, Oct. 26) Senior projects: A cure for senioritis. Education Week Teacher. Accessed Oct. 27, 2011 through Education Week.