While Reynoldsburg Schools boast a rating of "Excellent" by the State of Ohio Report Cards, district officials believe changes to the method of teaching provided to their students cannot only increase student achievement, but also improve fiscal management.
Superintendent Steve Dackin said the changes will not require a duplication of facilities and will allow the district to streamline curriculum for an economic savings.
"Our goal is to prepare our kids for the 21st Century in safe and secure schools," Dackin said.
Current eighth- and ninth-grade students have taken the Ohio Career Information System (OCIS) Career Cluster Inventory to determine what academies best relate to his or her interests. Students are in the pre-selection phase at this time with determining what Academy best suits their needs.
Students will select their top two choices out of Encore of Reynoldsburg Academy; Enterprise Business Academy; Health Science, Human Services and Education Academy; LEADS Academy and eSTEM Academy.
The Encore Academy will include arts, communication and design. Students will learn through exploration, creativity and expression. Enterprise Business Academy will help students understand the functions of business needed to be successful in the 21st century.
Through the use of science and education, students in the Health Science, Human Services and Education Academy will focus on those related skills to achieve graduation requirements.
LEADS - Leadership, Ethics, Advocacy, Democracy and Solutions - will develop minds, foster understanding and create leaders. ESTEM Academy, which is the only academy to begin with the 2011-2012 school year, will have an environmental focus for teaching science, technology, engineering and math.
Students interested in the eStem Academy will need to apply for the 2010-2011 school year. All remaining Academies will start with the 2011-2012 school year with the first graduating class in 2013-2014. The district's eStem will begin in modular buildings at the existing high school, while the other academies will begin with the 2011-2012 school year on the different campuses - with board approval on where those will be located.
The Academies will be housed at both high school buildings and will include all the basics needed for graduation in a manner that reflects different learning styles of students, art teacher Thomie Timmons said.
One example of how that will work would be the anatomy teacher teaching science in Shakespeare by portraying cell division and acting it out in the drama-focused Encore Academy.
The smaller learning communities will allow one on one interaction with students and teachers, Assistant Superintendent Dan Hoffman said.
"If you can break it down and know the kids well, teaching and learning improves," he said.
Timmons said the change in curriculum would help students have better relationships with their teachers and one another.
"I can walk through the halls now and don't know a good portion of our student body because of our size," he said. "When it is smaller like the academies, I will know a majority, if not all of the students in my Academy."
Planning and design for the Academies began nearly two years ago, Hoffman said. Every faculty member has joined in on the process of research and development.
"This is not something new in education," Timmons said.
Reynoldsburg used districts across the United States as a model for creating the Academies.
In addition to the new layout and design, the district will be partnering with the community for opportunities that have always not been offered in the past. Some examples of those partnerships include Battelle, Nationwide Children's Hospital, The Ohio State School of Cosmetology, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Moody-Nolan Inc. and Five Seasons Landscaping.
"Having partnerships will help us be able to develop internships," Timmons said.
Timmons said Mt Carmel East Hospital could bring the portable clinic to campus for students to work as interns and help determine their interests.
"It's exciting as a teacher to see what is coming out to these students," he said.