Academy Model to Prepare Student for Life as a Teacher

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JEFFERSON CITY - Students entering Simonsen Ninth Grade Center this fall will be the first to experience a new style of learning. Jefferson City Public Schools (JCPS) is implementing an "academy" model for learning. 

For more than four years, JCPS has been working on constructing seven different academies, writing curricula, drawing up lesson plans and integrating real-world examples into the classroom. The seven academies include: 

1. Natural Resources/ Agriculture: focusing on plant systems, animal systems, environmental service systems, agribusiness systems.
2. Global Studies/ Liberal Arts: focusing on international studies, languages, classical studies
3. Business, Management and Technology: focusing on finance, marketing, accounting, banking
4. Arts and Communication: focusing on journalism and broadcasting, film, visual arts, performing arts
5. Health Services: focusing on biotechnology research and development, pharmacist, audiologist
6. Industrial and Engineering Technology: focusing on architecture, construction, mathematics, science)
7. Human Services: focusing on counseling and mental health services, education, government)

The goal of the academies is to expose students to a career path that interests them and prepare them for work life after high school.  

Human Services teacher Karen Purren said, "It's not to say that they can't change their minds. If they get somewhere and they realize this is not what I want, well it's important our kids figure that out in high school."

An earlier report on the academy model is here

Earlier this school year, eighth grade students throughout JCPS voted on the top three academies they would like. Every student received his or her first choice of academy, and student Ellie Horn could not be more excited.

"I chose Human Services because I want to be a teacher and so this academy would gear me into following that career, and it will help me decide what I want to do in the teaching industry," said Ellie. 

Ellie said she thinks she would like to teach elementary education, particularly first or second grade. 

All eighth graders will take core classes consisting of math, government, English and physics. Their elective classes will be geared toward the academy they are in, and all ninth graders will take an introduction course to their academy. 

Purren said, "We still want our students to learn all of the curricula, but at the same time we kind of want to add some spice to it and make it relevant to what they're interested in." 

As students progress in high school, their academies will be more in-depth and catered toward the potential career fields they wish to enter. 

Ellie's mother, Michelle Horn said, "I feel so confident that Ellie will get experiences, real-life experiences that will help her make her decision in what she wants to do in the future."

Horn adds, "Elliana and all of the students in that academy, the Human Services academy, are going to benefit from getting to know their teachers, and their teachers will know what they want to do when they finally graduate from high school." 

In her free time Ellie enjoys hanging out with friends and is very involved with competitive dancing. Ellie hopes to incorporate her passion for dance into teaching, and said, "When I was little I always wanted to be a dance teacher so that [Academy] could help me in a way too."