Teaching and Learning

How do we prepare Perkins students to compete in a global economy?

That is the core question of the Teaching & Learning Department, (formerly known as Curriculum). Steeped in the Ohio Department of Education’s Career Connections program, the goal of the Teaching & Learning Department is to design a structure that teaches students how to reach their fullest potential. Perkins students need to graduate “college and career-ready,” meaning they are fully prepared to think critically, communicate clearly, collaborate, and leverage creativity to meet the world’s challenges, whether they start a career right away or pursue higher education.

One method we will employ this year for K-12, is focusing on a new career field each quarter. Teachers will engage students in this broader theme in every subject, often using writing and critical thinking activities to expose students to new career paths and topics. For instance, a quarter focused on agriculture might ask students to examine the science of GMO’s in biology, learn about world hunger in social studies, use crop yield data to learn about graphs in math, and interview professionals in the field live or via Skype for English. This summer, teachers and staff are writing a curriculum that centers on developmentally appropriate themes and goals to accomplish big picture learning. This includes designing activities that meet all learners’ needs, monitor their growth, and challenge them with high-expectations as lifelong learners.

Today’s classroom operates and sounds differently than when we were in school. The days of desks facing a lecturer for 45 minutes are long gone. Today’s working world requires inquiry-based and project-based learning, with students working in groups and teachers advising self-directed research and discovery. Our highly qualified, professional staff works hard to compete with the rest of the world, and we are honoring them by implementing professional development programs that support their efforts to push students to the next level. For example, our K-3 teachers are earning their academic language credentials to hone their understanding of the science behind reading to inform how they teach, instead of learning a one-size-fits-all reading program. This was funded by a 5-year professional learning grant.

To maintain and grow our community, families need to know their children can grow up and find a good job here where they can apply their talents and skills. We cannot complete this mission alone. To design a K-12 curriculum that addresses both local and global business needs, we will assemble a curriculum counsel with community stakeholders to help us shape the inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and capstone programs that give our students the skills and experiences they need to take on the world’s challenges. Our students are our community’s future and greatest asset, and they will greatly benefit from your expertise and perspective. Contact Rena McClellan to get involved.

Rena McClellan, Director of Teaching & Learning, has worked in education for 18 years, teaching in the classroom as well as working on curriculum specifically in several Northeast Ohio school districts. She is passionate about designing a curriculum to help students reach their fullest potential and helping educators gain the tools they need to transform education and give students a global perspective. Please call or email her with any questions you may have at (419) 233-2608 or rmcclellan@perkinsschools.org.