Some schools around the country are changing the math and science curriculum. Chickasaw City School is a great example. With the first quarter of their second year under their belt things are going great!
“We have a lot of good things going on here,” said Brent Ward, principal of Chickasaw High School, which includes grades 6-12. “We’re taking it a step at a time. Our students have bought into doing things ‘the Chieftain Way.’ We are blessed to have a school board that supports us.”
Enrollment is at 872, and that includes 26 students who don’t live in the city, but qualified for scholarships to waive the nonresident tuition fee.
The upper school’s student-to-computer ratio is at five to one, thanks to a donation of 60 laptops from the U.S. General Services Administration.
The elementary school is implementing the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative, beginning with more rigorous standards in math.
And the entire school has greatly expanded its extracurricular programs: outdoor classrooms with a wide variety of crops; a 40-member junior varsity football team; a volleyball team; and a cheerleading squad.
“I like to say, ‘we do more with less,’ ” said Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff, as he took an Al.com reporter on a tour of the school, located on the newly-named Chieftain Way (formerly 12th Street) in Chickasaw.
Student Ambassador Mikayla Jones, 12, led parts of the tour. The school’s 10 ambassadors must prove their worth during an interview before a panel of judges. Next year, the ambassadors will have special blazers, Ward said.
Kallhoff pointed out the new security system at the front of the building, with its buzz-activated door. There are also 16 security cameras, all of which are connected to the Chickasaw Police Department.
Mikayla showed off the pretty, well-kept outdoor classroom, which has goldfish ponds, a butterfly garden, blueberry bushes, fruit trees — and even chickens. A large coop holds 25 adults, some of which were hatched out in one of the classrooms.
Bus drivers Marlena and Mike Lee keep an eye on the chickens for now, but eventually that job will be given over to science students during the week.
Students do the planting and weeding in the vegetable garden boxes, Ward said, and the upper grades will use the gardens to do science experiments, measuring growth results with different fertilizers.
Eventually, Ward hopes to have a farmers’ market on site so that the students can sell their produce and help make the gardens self-sustaining, and learn some math skills into the bargain. “We’re trying to incorporate real-world situations to help them learn without realizing they’re learning,” he said.
The brightly decorated halls in the elementary wing included writing assignments and math lessons. One of the main goals with the new math standards, Kallhoff said, is to encourage students to evaluate and solve problems.
“That’s the difference between the baseline minimum of what we want students to do, vs. thinking and figuring it out,” he said. “We’re teaching high-order skills that local industries want their employees to be able to do.” These are great perks to changing the math and science curriculum.