Denair High students interested in ag or drama will have new electives from which to choose in the upcoming school year, Denair Unified School District trustees decided Thursday night. Adjustments also were made to math and English curriculum, and a second piece put in place for a criminal justice pathway for students interested in law enforcement as a career.
Board members heard an overview of the new courses from Cherie Gresham, the counselor at the high school. Among the highlights:
· A beefed up menu of ag electives, all intended to quality for college-level credit for students who want to attend Modesto Junior College after graduation. A new welding class will follow two courses in ag mechanics, with hopes of adding an advanced welding class in the near future. A floral design II class to introduce higher-level concepts, Gresham said. An introduction to animal science course. And, finally, an elective on agricultural leadership and skills, which excited Trustee Ray Prock Jr. “I could see it developing into a marketing or ag communications class. I don’t think there’s any other high school around here that offers that,” he said.
· An elective in drama. “We had a ton of interest in it,” Gresham explained. “We had a bunch of kids already in the Drama Club.”
· In mathematics, accommodations were made for students who have struggled with algebra. Gresham said for incoming freshmen identified as needing additional attention, algebra will be split into integrated math 1A and integrated math 1B – each a yearlong course that allows them to learn “at a slow pace.” Because the combined classes will count only as one year toward the three years of math needed to graduate, these students also will have to take math classes through their senior years. In addition, a course called integrated math II will replace geometry. It includes elements of geometry, probability and proportional reasoning, quadratic functions and solving equations.
· In English, a pre-AP course was added specifically for sophomores to better prepare them for the Advanced Placement class they can take as juniors or seniors. “With the pre-AP, we’re giving them a taste of what’s expected and they’ll know whether they’re ready to jump into it,” Gresham explained. “We found this year that some of our students weren’t as prepared as they needed to be for the rigorous coursework.”
· Trustees were excited to learn about plans to expand the criminal justice choices to as many as four classes, creating what is known as a “pathway.” An introductory course was unveiled in 2015-16 for sophomores, juniors and seniors to consider as an elective. This year, a class in patrol procedures will be added for students at all grade levels. Two additional classes – intro to criminal justice and administration of justice – are envisioned in future years.
In other business, trustees:
- Adopted the Local Control and Accountability Plans for all four campuses. They are detailed strategic plans crafted after a series of public meetings with parents and community members as well as input from staff. They are required by the state Department of Education.
- Approved a variable term waiver for a new Spanish immersion instructor at Denair Elementary Charter Academy. It allows Margarita Hurtado de Nava to teach even as she pursues her formal credential. “There are thousands of these approved each year across the state,” Superintendent Aaron Rosander said. “To say there is a teaching shortage in this state is an understatement.”