Plano ISD Leaders Address Key Communicators about Three New Academies to Open in 2013
October 10, 2012
Leaders of Plano ISD's three new academies scheduled to open next school year addressed a crowd of 125 at the Plano ISD Key Communicators meeting held on October 4 at the Plano ISD Academy High School building. Parents heard reports and had their questions answered at the meeting.
Watch the meeting video on PISDTV.
Superintendent of Schools Richard Matkin addressed Key Communicators, and academy representatives Renee Godi, principal of the Plano ISD Academy High School; Kathy Witcher, coordinator of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program; and Mary Hewett, Plano ISD Health Sciences Academy representative, presented reports to parents and then served as a speaker panel during a question/answer session.
Key Communicators Facilitator Sharon Goldblatt hosted the meeting, and Kathy Schell, Plano ISD Education Foundation board member, presented information to the group about the Foundation's programs,including Ski Plano 2013, the Foundation's annual fundraising gala scheduled for January 26 at Southfork Ranch.
125 parents attended the Plano ISD Key Communicators meeting.
Superintendent Addresses Key Communicators
Richard Matkin (pictured) addressed several topics, including budget and finance, the upcoming legislative session, state accountability models, college-readiness programs, and the strategic planning process that the school board is commencing, which includes a visioning document coauthored by Plano ISD and looks at new ways of educating students.
"We are looking for input from parents like you," said Mr. Matkin, thanking parents for helping communicate district messages among fellow parents across the school district. "You're the ones who take the time and effort to represent your schools and to be engaged in your child's education."
Mr. Matkin introduced the topic of the three new academies, scheduled to open August, 2013, that will offer students additional educational choices.
Plano ISD Academy High School
Texas Instruments provided $5 million to the district last fall to help launch the new academy high school, Mr. Matkin told parents. "This will help fund start up costs, curriculum writing and transportation," he said. "We continue to seek additional sponsorships from other companies and corporations to continue to support operation of the academy."
Renee Godi spoke to parents while Sharon Goldblatt, facilitator of the Key Communicators group, looked on.
Renee Godi, academy principal, presented a report about the Plano ISD Academy High school. In her presentation , she detailed characteristics of the academy and its prospective students.
"I'm humbled and honored to be part of this innovative work," said Ms. Godi. "It's been exciting to begin to lay the groundwork for what this academy could look like next year." She told parents, "We're entering an age where students have more options, and I think that's great that options are available, so it's an exciting time for us as a school district."
The Plano ISD Academy High School is located at 1701 Alma Drive in Plano.
"New does not necessarily mean better, it's just different," explained Ms. Godi. "It's about finding the right fit and the right environment for your child. I think this time in the district invites some great conversations about how a child learns best, what opportunities are now available in our academy programs and in our schools."
The academy will be a 9-12 high school, opening with 150 ninth and 150 tenth grade students next year. Each year after that, the district will add 150 students, beginning with eleventh grade and then 150 twelfth grade students so that by the year 2015-16, the academy will house 600 total students with all four grade levels.
The academy is based upon the following four pillars, which Ms. Godi explained in depth in her presentation: project based learning, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, digital Arts, Math) education, interdisciplinary connections and culture which empowers students to be collaborators.
Ms. Godi also discussed the fact that corporate and community connections are integral to the success of the academy. Students will be part of small learning environments and be expected to utilize 1:1 technology.
Dooley Elementary School parent Erica Johnson asks a question following the report presentations. Also pictured are parent Amanda Trachta, Dooley, and Armstrong Middle School parents Alicia La Foucade and Dawn Garrickhad.
Students will follow a path to obtain a Plano ISD Recommended or Distinguished high school diploma. The student selection process will begin soon and will include
parent/student meetings and tours, and an online application process.
Ms. Godi told parents to stay tuned for information in the coming weeks through the district's electronic newsletter (eNews) and district website (www.pisd.edu).
International Baccalaureate (IB) Academy
Kathy Witcher, IB coordinator, presented several facts about the district's IB diploma program, stating, "This is a great time to be an eighth grader in Plano schools. They will have so many outstanding choices."
In her presentation , Ms. Witcher said that, currently, 275 students are enrolled in the IB diploma program at Plano East Senior High School. An additional 282 students are enrolled in international honors courses at Clark and Williams High Schools. Ms. Witcher explained that all IB students (grades 9-12) will be housed, beginning fall of 2013, in a school within a school at Plano East Senior High School.
"This will help students who have had to make the difficult transition from the high school to the senior high school level. They will now be together on one campus 9th through 12th grades. This will allow us to better align the 9th and 10th grade curriculum with the 11th and 12th grade curriculum, and this cadre of students will have the opportunity to collaborate and study together. We anticipate this being a very nurturing environment with older students mentoring younger students."
Kathy Witcher, Sharon Goldblatt, Mary Hewett and Renee Godi
Plano ISD Health Sciences Academy
Mary Hewett, executive director for instructional technology and representative for the health sciences academy, told Key Communicators that the district has been working with Collin College to develop the 9-12 academy that will be housed as a school-within-a-school at Williams High School, beginning fall 2013.
In her presentation , Ms. Hewett said that Plano ISD will extend learning opportunities like never before for students interested in health sciences and future careers in medicine. Students will be able to earn college credit through dual-enrollment courses, and the academy will offer new certifications and more courses than are currently offered.
The academy expands the existing curriculum by offering unique health science-focused electives. The courses offered will allow students to earn up to 54 hours of college credit that can be applied toward earning technical certificates or that can be transferred to a college or university.
When students graduate from high school, they can immediately begin working as a certified technician in several different medical fields. For students wanting to continue their education at a university, there are many other advantages as well. Not only can they save tuition money by getting college credit during high school, but they can also utilize the technical certificates to begin working while they are still in college giving them a source of income and on the job experience.
Update: At the October 16 work session meeting of the Plano ISD Board of Trustees, the following reports about the health sciences academy were presented to trustees.
Parents were encouraged to stay tuned to district eNews and the district website www.pisd.edu for information about each of the new academies and online application forms for students.