2017-10-26 / Opinion

GUEST VIEW

Multiple Pathways/Options for all Newport Students

This is the second in a series of guest views on the Newport Public Schools’ (NPS) One Newport Strategic Plan. Last month’s focus was early childhood education with the goal that all students be at grade level in reading and math by the end of third grade. The piece highlighted the importance of attendance along with a focus on social and behavioral learning in the early years. This month’s focus is on our goal of multiple pathways/options for every student as they progress through Thompson Middle School (TMS) and Rogers High School (RHS).

This op-ed follows on the heels of the Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) forum called “The Future of Working Newport.” The forum was held to inform residents of ongoing initiatives: First, the city’s Civic Investment team is working to bring new, year-round career opportunities with an emphasis on the field of resiliency and 21st-century jobs along with improving education, soft skills and training for Newport citizens both young and old. Second, panelists spoke about several initiatives our Newport Area Career Tech Center (NACTC) has undertaken in the last three years. Investments were made in outreach to Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton. The results showed a near tripling of NACTC enrollees. Actual enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year saw 140 students with 20 non-Newport students. For the 2017-2018 school year, 390 students enrolled with 90 non-Newport enrollees. This is an astounding increase.

Further, with the assistance of the van Beuren Charitable Foundation and the state of Rhode Island, NPS and NACTC have made a significant investment in state-of-theart technology and equipment to ensure students are using equipment seen in the workplace. Investments have been made in carpentry and construction technology, Academy of Information Technology (AOIT), Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH), and advertising, design and media to name a few.

The curriculum for each of the eight career tech programs has been and continues to be improved with rigor, ensuring industry certifications and opportunities for student internships. PTECH is an innovative program focused on technology and cyber security. It partners NACTC/RHS with area companies for mentoring and internships, along with CCRI and URI, as PTECH graduates will receive an associate degree along with their high school diploma and industry certificates.

The One Newport Strategic Plan, found on the NPS website, states: “In a recent Chronic Early Absenteeism & Truancy Reduction Initiative (CEATRI) school climate survey, students reported little control over their learning and did not see a connection between what they are learning in school and future paths.”

The NPS administration and faculty are listening to these concerns. At RHS the Newport Project, a combined English and science class has been hosting field trips and in-class visitors to create a project-based learning environment. More recently, the International Project began bringing in speakers from the Naval War College and the Navy to speak about life, careers and world experiences. This year, One Newport is building a database of community guest speakers to link classroom/curriculum learning to career pathways and real-life experiences. The goal is to expose students to career possibilities and hear stories about each speaker’s pathway both with in-classroom speakers and field trips to nearby business locations. These encounters are meant to be inspirational and help students find their area(s) of interest along with a vision of what education and training is needed to succeed. Many people can name a teacher who inspired them, but frequently it is one individual or one experience that sparks an interest.

The goal is for all students to want to learn, be curious, and yes, question the value of education. Our hope is to engage students in conversations that demonstrate the benefits of learning, working hard, engaging in every aspect of their lives to open doors, to expand their opportunities, and to ensure they have multiple pathways providing a choice amongst several avenues to achieve success in life. Life is not a straight line, there will be bumps, but a solid education, a curious and engaged mind, and a respect for all people will be the ticket to success.

If you would like to be part of the process and volunteer, please reach out to Marcin at marcinrembisz@npsri.net. You can help as a mentor, tutor, guest speaker, field-trip site leader or even an elementary classroom reader. In the coming months, there will be more One Newport guest views on other strategic goals so please stay tuned.

Louisa Boatwright
One Newport Team Member

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