D-200 high schools open with confidence, plans
Woodstock School District 200 schools opened their doors to students last week, officially starting the 2012-13 school year.
Principals at Woodstock and Woodstock North high schools are looking forward to increased participation in school programs and classes.
Corey Tafoya, principal at WHS, said 43 percent of seniors took part in Advanced Placement classes last school year. The numbers, he said, could be even higher this year.
“It’s pretty exciting to see all that happening,” Tafoya said, noting many of the AP courses can transfer as college credit. This is in addition to the school’s partnership with McHenry County College, which also is expanding this year. “We’ve really started to work with MCC in a number of areas … to offer MCC credit.”
Records show about 40 percent of D-200 high school students go to MCC, Tafoya said, making that partnership especially important.
“They can have half a semester of credit walking through the door,” he said, noting some students have earned just under a year of college credit.
Tafoya said the AP classes stretch across the curriculum, from math and science to the arts. He said most students excel in one or another area.
“[We encourage students to] showcase their talents,” Tafoya said. “Find a place where your interests lie and push it. … It’s been kind of fun to watch that develop.”
Tafoya said staff evaluation and development as well as analyzing the curriculum will be key this year. The school is adopting the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
According to the CCSSI website, the standards “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”
“We’ll be evaluating all of our teachers,” Tafoya said. “Some have not had an evaluation in years.”
Tafoya said the economy and other socio-economic factors make teaching at WHS a challenge. He said the ongoing message to faculty and staff is to focus on remaining consistent and productive throughout the school day.
“We can control what happens when the bell rings, and the kids are here,” Tafoya said. “When that bell rings, we just have to do the best we can.”
At WNHS, principal Brian McAdow is hoping to see increases in programs designed to help students keep pace with the curriculum.
Last year, the peer tutoring program maxed out at 60 students. This year, more than 80 already have signed up for the program, McAdow said. The program matches an upperclassman receiving high marks in certain subjects with an underclassman struggling to grasp concepts. McAdow said certain students are more comfortable working with their peers, which is why the program works.
This year, WNHS students who are not passing classes will be paired with teachers within that subject during study hall periods as a way to help them succeed. McAdow said while teachers can’t be forced into these programs, called Guided Studies, they have stepped up to the plate to cover the necessary hours.
“The staff want this,” McAdow said. “They’ve made it happen.”
The 2012-13 school year is the fifth school year for WNHS. McAdow said the new-school image is starting to fade.
“There’s nothing new that we didn’t do last year,” McAdow said, with the exception of some minor programs created to improve education. “We feel established. It really feels that way [this year.] … We’re building on past successes.”