VALLEY INSIGHT: Developing Student Talents & Interests at Tippecanoe Valley High School
Written by Kristen Ekhoff, mathematics teacher, Tippecanoe Valley High School
Tippecanoe Valley High School has implemented several new programs within the past two years, which serve students in a wide variety of abilities and interests. This article will highlight High Ability Programming, Student Resource Time, Viking Success, the Basic Skills class, and the Graduation Coach program.
Within the past five years, Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation began analysis of student identification for high ability program options. Through this rigorous revamping process, students in Kindergarten through 12th grade are now more accurately identified as high ability in areas of Language Arts and Mathematics. As a result, programming options and opportunities have been expanding and changing at all levels. At the high school, we have been continually modifying and fine-tuning the courses offered to students. In an effort to provide students with a variety of course options in their areas of interest and talent, we offer several classes that are taught at a collegiate-level of learning while still attending high school, which students may choose to take for credit through a local college or university. In most cases, the teacher of these courses is required to be specially trained by the university through which the credit is offered. This year, we added another semester of Advanced College Placement English; students can now earn six Indiana University credits (two specific courses) in one year at Tippecanoe Valley High School. Next year, Political Science will be available for dual credit. A thorough list of these courses is available on the high school webpage in the guidance department’s provided document: “Course Description Guide”.
In the past two years, we have adjusted the daily schedule to include a period for most students called “Viking Success.” Viking Success is a daily period of time built into the middle of each day, which we added two years ago, that gives students and teachers more time to meet, build relationships, and discuss academics. During this time, students are grouped by grade level, or other commonality, such as high ability identification. Viking Success time has provided multiple opportunities to have conversations with students about how their classes are going, dealing with struggles, and celebrating successes. During scheduling, important conversations have been able to take place with students about being purposeful in what course selections they make and what career path they might choose. Teachers of each grade level also formed Professional Learning Communities. Teachers meet at least once a week to discuss specific students, how we can better meet specific student needs, and how to help them grow and develop both academically and as individuals.
We also recently developed and implemented a program called Student Resource Time. This allowed students one period of time per week to meet with teachers, review grades, and receive assistance. With the creation of Viking Success, SRT has been able to now become a time when students who are behind in their work or need assistance can be assigned to an accountability classroom, for which we have one per grade-level. For students who do not fall into this category, we offer several enrichment options that run for at least 6 weeks. Fashion, cosmetology, woodworking, gaming, exercise, art, media, and sports are just some of the fields that have been explored during this time. This gives many students the opportunity to pursue learning and expand interests in a field that they may not have room for in their traditional schedule. It also provides students the chance to try something new in an area of potential interest.
Two other programs recently created to assist students as they grow and develop are the Basic Skills class and the Graduation Coach program. Basic Skills is a class that can be incorporated into a student’s schedule for one period. In this class, students are taught organizational skills and responsibility. Teachers also work with students on test taking strategies during this time to prepare for standardized tests, like the ISTEP+.
For students struggling academically, Tippecanoe Valley has joined with other area schools to offer a Graduation Coach program. Tippecanoe Valley High School has two teachers designated as graduation coaches. These teachers have specific students assigned to them during Viking Success, with a main goal of achieving high school graduation. Responsibility is a main learning goal in the Graduation Coach program. Students regularly and frequently meet with their graduation coach to analyze their transcript and focus on specific courses still needed to achieve a diploma.
We recognize that students come to the high school from various backgrounds. Everyone at TVHS desires to help all students develop their individual talents and interests during their high school career. We share a common goal to meet students where they are, and ultimately help them grow into successful young men and women.
Pictured: Kristen Ekhoff
Valley Insight is a recurring monthly article written by administrators on a variety of topics related to education and the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation. Articles will be posted to the district’s website and also shared with the local media.