Dr. Slemmer Message to Parents
Red Mountain Stands for 21st Century Learning
Recently, Red Mountain High School, along with all the high schools in Mesa, participated in the North Central Association Commission and School Improvement (NCA) accreditation process. The purpose of our participation was to earn and maintain our rating as an outstanding educational institution that meets and exceeds standards required of highly functioning schools. For three days professionals from outside the district visited our campus, interviewed our stakeholders, and observed instruction. The (QAR) Quality Assurance Review committee, as they are called, completed a thorough review as they studied every dimension of RM. I am happy to report the findings of this committee were very favorable, and Red Mountain High School was awarded full accreditation. One of the findings the (QAR) committee determined commendable was how well we live our vision statement. Our vision at RM is to “Prepare Students to Face the Challenges of the 21st Century”. I can personally testify that our administration and teachers at Red Mountain take the vision statement very seriously.
A big part of facing challenges of the 21st century can be found in our curriculum and course offerings. Over the past several years, we have instituted a number of new courses that are in alignment with the skills our students must demonstrate as they meet 21st century challenges. Let me give one example of a course we offer that addresses our vision. CB09 (Computer Technology) offers a student a diverse experience with Microsoft Office applications and Google Docs. This course is not just a brief overview but a detailed look at each software component from building databases to incorporating video into multimedia production. CB09 gives students a strong background into business computing, giving them employable skills now! Many companies are looking for employees that are fluent in Microsoft Office products such as Excel and Access; this class gives students these skills and many more. CB09 is also a dual enrollment course that satisfies the CIS 105 credit that is required at all, in-state universities. Four million businesses worldwide use Google Docs daily, and top universities worldwide incorporate Google Docs into their daily curriculum. Does this sound like a course that prepares students to face the challenges of the 21st century? You bet it does! Here is the problem. Many students feel they have a strong understanding of technology, but in actuality, their skills are limited to video gaming and social media such as Facebook. This false reality is one reason why early counts show very few students have signed up for the course.
As we go through course selection season ( February, March and April), parents need to play a major role in assisting their kids with what a student’s schedule should look like to truly prepare him or her to face the challenges of the 21st century. Here is some simple advice for parents to follow as their children go through the course selection process for next year. Look for elective course titles that might include: Advanced Placement (21 courses at Red Mountain have AP in front of them), Biomedical Science, Biotechnology, Digital Illustration and Photo, Computer Technology, Engineering, Animal and Veterinary Science, Professions and Careers or CTE. These kinds of courses specifically address preparing students to face the challenges of the 21st century which includes employment in an ever changing and competitive world. Keep in mind that students only have six periods a day to build a full schedule, so it will be critical they make selections that will address the future they want to be a part of. As a parent, I would be very concerned if I saw selections like study hall, release time to go home, and multiple classes in PE.
It is not too late to sit down with your child and talk about the academic schedule they will pursue during the 2012-2013 school. Parents can view their students’ course selections for next year on the Parent Portal. Please use this tool to initiate a conversation with the students about course selection. The discussion should include college and career goals, followed by realistic expectations and courses needed to meet the goal. For example, recently I talked to a student who defined his career goal as wanting to be a Veterinarian. Upon looking at the student’s schedule, it was discovered he did not sign up for any science courses. Take time to learn more about your son or daughter’s academic schedule, ask them to see a copy or contact a school counselor who will be happy to schedule an appointment, and discuss the student’s schedule in more detail. High School is a critical time in the life of a teenager. Decisions they make now can affect them for the rest of their lives.