Additional courses offered at Franklin High

Published 10:28 am Friday, February 26, 2016

A subject that caused debate at last Thursday night’s school board meeting was the amendment to add courses to the Franklin High School 2015-2016 Course Offering Guide. However, after consideration of the courses, the board voted to approve the technical amendment.

Superintendent Dr. Willie Bell presented the technical amendment additions for the course offering guide. The courses on the amendment were Mathematics Proficiency Enhancement (02994), Tutoring Practicum (22054) and AVID I & II (Advancement Via Individual Determination).

Members of the board approved of the Mathematics Proficiency Enhancement and AVID I & II, but several questioned the Tutoring Practicum course.

The description of the course was listed as followed: “This course provides students with the opportunity to offer tutoring assistance to their peers or to younger students. After an initial training period during which the students learn how to work with other students and how to make use of the available resources (e.g. staff, writing material, audiovisual aids, etc.), students engage in tutoring and assisting others who need or request help. The course is also designed to improve student communication and active listening skills while enhancing the opportunity for students to develop proficiency in organization, diagnosis, problem-solving and articulating explanations.”

Ward 2 school board representative Nancy Godwin asked if the students were enrolled in this course, would they have a whole block of tutoring?

Franklin High School Principal Dr. Ronnie Watson replied, “The tutoring practicum is 90 minutes just like other courses. It’s starts off with organizational skills. It teaches kids how to collaborate as the AVID program does. It teaches you to not necessarily teach physics, but how to go over your notes, work with the student on collaboration and communication and help students develop learn. The main reason we have the peer tutoring or the Tutoring Practicum is because we have students that are taking retest, they already four courses, but they need a retest in the afternoon. So these students during that time, can help get their lesson on concepts they don’t understand. We are also developing teachers for the future.”

The question was then raised do students get a credit for this course?

Watson said they get a credit, as well community service and other things. He also ensured the board that the course is approved by the Virginia Department of Education course guide.

The type of teacher who would be teaching this course was brought up, and Watson told the board that whoever was available would be. Right now they have a teacher who is teaching Physical Education and Health teaching the course. He also noted that this teacher also teaches Bronco Success, a class that goes over organization and orientation.

“Do we have to vote on this tonight?” Godwin asked.

School Board Chairwoman Edna King then said, “My question would be, you want to implement these classes with immediacy for this year?

Bell then jumped in the conversation and said, “Yes, with addition to the course offerings….we already have students in these classes. This is just a technical addition to the course offering guide. The tutoring practicum mirrors the teachers for tomorrow. We have students who are training to help other students pass their retakes….those students have actually passed that subject and they are helping other students pass that same subject. It’s a collaborative and team effort within the school.”

Watson added how the students are really excited about the program and the course is giving them a chance to have responsibility and ownership for tutoring and learning.

Godwin then wanted to know how many students were currently enrolled in the course and Watson replied that there were five students.

“So we are going to vote on this, but we are already doing it? If we decided that we didn’t want to do something, what would happen? I feel like we are backtracking a little bit here. If we didn’t agree on this, what would happen?” Godwin asked.

Bell and Watson replied in saying that then they would have to readjust those students’ schedule and enroll them in other electives.

“But the course offering guide had already been approved, just adding the course based on the data, that’s what we are bringing to the board,” Bell continued. “But if the board did not want to move forward with the students in these courses, then we would have to adjust their schedules and put them in another elective.”

Watson said, “I think it is a very innovative way to help our students become self motivated. I don’t think it’s a course that has any negative backdrops.”

Franklin High administrative assistant Kelley Conaway also spoke up and said that she felt these courses were going great and really helping the students.

Bell also ensured the board that none of the courses have any negative impacts on the students.

King and Ward 5 Jeanette Austin both said they thought the courses were a good idea and they approved of them, but Godwin and Ward 1 representative Will Councill told Watson that they didn’t appreciate them adding these courses and enrolling students in them before discussing it with the board first.

Bell then spoke up and said that it was his fault and that it falls under him.

After weighing the options of what to do, all council members voted to keep the courses and approve the technical amendment, as they felt it would be more harm to take students out of already enrolled courses than to keep them in them.