MAT- SU — The Mat-Su Borough School Board has completed their meeting schedule for the summer and will not meet again until Aug. 4.
At their final meeting on June 2, the school board approved six new courses available for MSBSD high school students to take. Among the six courses was the brand new Credit, Career, College, Community and Career course that will be required for all students to earn one full credit over the course of four years.
“You’ve watched the development of this course over the last several months and many iterations and you’ve seen quite a bit on what this course, how it’s designed and what its purpose is,” said Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Traci Pedersen.
The course introduced by Superintendent Dr. Randy Trani last fall has come under heavy scrutiny from members of the school community. Pedersen presented the new courses to the School Board on May 26 which were then unanimously passed by the school board on June 2. The curriculum in the 4C’s include lessons in goal setting, career research, academic improvement, career surveys, college research and high school academic planning. Students that are on track to graduate and are excelling in their courses can earn additional time and credit for enrichment and acceleration as well as work or community based opportunities. All students will be provided with a staff counselor or teacher and may be paired with an upperclassmen mentor to meet weekly and monitor success in academics, discuss goal setting and monitor well being and progress. During discussion, board member Dwight Probasco asked about the peer review process for the 4C’s.
““It got a little bit of an unorthodox route because there were so many iterations. I think the essence of the four C’s has been there all along but it’s actually just gotten better and better so I would say in some ways the peer review was done with the dozens of meetings that Dr. Trani and my colleagues went through schools and met with potentially every single high school and middle school teacher so it actually to me is more vetted than any course that I’m presenting,” said Pedersen. “I think that’s important to point out and note for the record that it has been reviewed by many people so far and it did go through the curriculum council.”
Upperclassmen who serve in a role of mentor will also have the option to earn elective credit and 4C’s credit concurrently. Board Member Sarah Welton was also excited about the course and called upon her experience teaching at Mat-Su College.
“I spent most of my time in the writing end of my course and I’m not a writing teacher, I’m teaching psychology.I had to teach how to write a summary and I’m hoping that would make a big difference getting through the material at the college level. I appreciate that that’s going to be a big part of it.”
Along with the 4C’s, two new CTE courses were approved as well as two new International Baccalaureate music courses as well as interdisciplinary writing and analysis.
“This course was actually developed at Palmer High School. You’ve previously approved AP seminar, so I bring that reference up because this is a similar course. It would kind of be like the IB answer to AP seminar. This course is a comprehensive course that develops skills in the construction of long form writing, the revision of writing for style tone and subtlety, and skills in intermediate literary analysis,” said Pedersen. “One of the reasons that this course was developed at Palmer High is that the teachers wanted an answer or a solution for students who maybe had taken english 1 as 8th graders and this is an appropriate writing course that’s going to set them up in being successful in IB courses.”
IB Performance Ensemble 1 and 2 were also approved, allowing music students to extend their instruction on their path to the IB diploma. The two new Career and Technical Education courses offer students the chance to expand their career opportunities outdoors with Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder. Wilderness First Aid is a semester course that would teach students how to assist in the event of a medical emergency in the wilderness until medical professionals could arrive. The wilderness first responder course is a year-long course that would instruct students on how injuries affect the systems of the body and short term survival skills.
“The wilderness first responder course is similar but more in depth and this is a year long course. It’s developed for non medical professionals to have the basic knowledge to assist medical professionals or keep injured persons safe while waiting for medical help. It will focus on how to prevent medical problems and injuries from occurring and how to care for individuals in a wilderness setting while supporting medical professionals or waiting on medical assistance,” said Pedersen. “This course will help prepare people to work in the wilderness in connection to other careers in the medical emergency fields. Really this course is a useful course for any individuals who are interested in any outdoor career or field.”
The goal for students who complete wilderness first aid or first responder courses would be to allow them to enroll in fire science courses to earn certifications that could be used for a career as an EMT or ETT. Pedersen also presented to the school board on CTE courses that will be acceptable for core area credit.
“We have for years said that there are certain courses that we know meet the standards for like a mathematics elective for example, but without going through that work officially and going through this process,” said Pedersen. “This is something that we believe is really good for our students and honors all of those core subjects that are just a part of the CTE courses.”