Highland plans to upgrade course offerings for students

By Mike Jorgensen

When the Highland CSD School Board determined the goals for their five-year plan, ?Learning Environment? was in the top 5.

This included upgrading course offerings for students. I have enjoyed the opportunity to closely examine the course and curriculum offerings for the district and to assist in making tweaks that more reflect courses of interest to students and that match career and industry needs.

A few course adjustments were made in a short term fashion. The district has successfully implemented Agriculture Education courses with their own instructor.

Three Agriculture related classes are currently taught at the High School in addition to those offered through an agreement with Lone Tree. The district will be expanding upon these offerings next year.

The district has hired a middle school science instructor for next year who also is certified in Agriculture Education. She will be teaching an Agriculture middle school exploratory as well as a high school Horticulture course.

These are in addition to her middle school curriculum. She will assist in the FFA activities. We are exploring the possibility of constructing a greenhouse to be used in conjunction with our courses.

Another course adjustment made was to focus the instruction of the Family Consumer Science studies.

The district is working to transform a generic curriculum into a more focused career pathway in Culinary Arts.

Partnerships with the Riverside Resort food service resources as well as local business and industry will provide our students with courses that could lead to potential placement in the food service industry as well as advanced placement in Kirkwood?s Hospitality programs.

Highland has also implemented a work placement program. Eleven students are currently working on the job for high school credit.

We look to expand upon this opportunity in the spring semester with additional job shadowing and internships with the local newspaper.

Students will get hands-on experiences in areas in which they have potential career interest.

One of the most exciting opportunities that will be available at the Highland High School next fall is the Aerospace Engineering Courses.

Highland has been selected to be the first district in the state of Iowa to pilot the Advanced Career Aerospace Engineering Curriculum, provided by the Southern Regional Education Board High Schools That Work.

In this four-course Advanced Career Curriculum, students will explore the designing, building, testing and analyzing science behind the forces and physical properties of planes, rockets and unmanned vehicles.

They will utilize tools such as Excel, Lab View and sensing systems to collect and analyze data. In addition, students will work collaboratively, manage projects, be creative and innovative, think critically, and solve problems as well as propose solutions to design problems.

Further, they will learn to apply literacy, mathematics and science concepts and use technology to effectively solve real-world, challenging problems with business and industry partners.

We are very excited to have been selected the first high school in Iowa to implement these cutting edge courses. Along with the Robotics class currently offered, we look to be a leader in the science and technology arena for a high school in the state of Iowa.

This program will equip students with the knowledge and skills to be successful in both college and the global workforce. Careers include systems, design, structural analysis, software and aerospace engineers.

Related occupations include avionics and radar technicians; materials planners; technical writers; air traffic controllers; pilots; drone designers; inspectors; and aircraft and airframe mechanics.

Two instructors will be sent to Auburn University this summer to begin the training for the implementation of this four course curriculum. The first course, Fundamentals of Aerospace Technology, will be offered next fall.

A new course will be added each of the next three years. We intend to offer seats to surrounding school districts who may have students interested in taking this course.

Feel free to contact Dr. Mike Jorgensen @ mjorgensen@highland.k12.ia.us or Derick Ball @ dball@highland.k12.ia.us for more information.

Mike Jorgensen is Superintendent of the Highland School District.