New centers will provide an expansion of service

Guest Columnist – Dr. Marc Schaffer

The Surveyor

Greetings Thompson School District students, staff, parents and community members,

From early childhood through graduation, Thompson School District (TSD) is committed to providing the highest quality educational experiences for our students, with the goal of preparing our graduates to be college, career and community ready. Last month our board of education authorized us to move forward in designing a new Early Childhood Education (ECE) center as well as a new Career and Technical Education (CTE) center. Both of these exciting initiatives pave the way for us to expand upon our already successful programming in these critical areas. For my letter this month, I would like to share a bit more with you regarding our plans for these two new programs. 

We are very excited about the opening of a new early childhood center for a variety of reasons. With the additional space we can provide a more personalized learning experience for each child by reimagining spaces to support each child’s growth in a way that is developmentally appropriate. This can be through new spaces such as an innovation lab, an outdoor classroom, and learning spaces for students to work in small groups and individually. We will have the flexibility to offer an array of services, such as special education, accelerated learning, and other opportunities for our students by housing different service providers in one space that can co-teach and collaborate. An important component of our program is parent involvement and education. This space would provide opportunities for a variety of workshops, such as nutrition and financial planning, and provide a venue for our families to connect with other families and resources in the community. We also plan to team with community partners to offer additional services on-site; such as child care, mental health support, and parenting classes that can support our students and families. We anticipate opening a portion of our Early Childhood Education center in the 2019-2020 school year.

A CTE center will improve our district’s ability to support and prepare TSD students to be career and college ready. When we listen to local businesses, they emphasize the importance of “soft skills;” such as collaboration, communication, problem solving, and creativity. The nurturing of these skills can be embedded in each course at a CTE center or be part of a required capstone course for all students in preparing to enter the world of work. A CTE center increases relevance for student learning by offering combined academic/CTE content and credit, where students apply and connect their academic learning directly to their CTE courses. From a programming perspective, the CTE center will provide equality of access to programs for all TSD students, regardless of which high school they attend. Because students from all five high schools can attend, a CTE center also creates the ability to offer deeper and unique career pathway experiences in our district. This allows for programs to be offered at the district level that may not have enough enrollment if they were only offered at one high school, as well as the opportunity to earn industry certifications and college credit. Our plan is to begin operations at our new center during the 2020-2021 school year.

As I hope you can see, TSD is moving forward with exciting and necessary expansions to support our students from early childhood through graduation. These are exciting times for TSD as we forge ahead in creating an exceptional and world-class school district for our 16,000 students.

Thank you for your support.

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