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Sophomores mapping out career goals at Gateway Regional

  • Gateway Regional School District. SUBMITTED PHOTO



For the Gazette
Friday, August 24, 2018

HUNTINGTON — This year sophomores at Gateway Regional High School will be taking part in an individual learning plan, or ILP.

The ILP program was piloted last year for the freshman class, with the plan to have the class of 2021 be the first at the school to graduate having gone through four years of the program.

An individual learning plan is a creative student-directed tool that maps out academic plans, personal and social growth, as well as career development activities. It also looks at the student’s unique, self-defined interests, strengths, needs and goals for the attainment of success in future academics, careers or both.

“The idea is to have students set down goals and develop their own portfolios that lets them look at how they are doing with school-wide expectations,” Principal Jason Finnie said.

The process not only encourages students to identify actions that are necessary to achieve their goals, it also promotes relevant communication between students, teachers, school staff, parents or guardians to help them succeed.

“We want every student to have a detailed plan for their schooling and to make sure that teachers know what the student’s goals are, as well, in order to help them organize and plan their high school and career and beyond,” Finnie said.

With the inclusion of the sophomore class, 80 additional students will be participating in the program this year.

Finnie said that when the students with ILPs leave Gateway, they will have an exit interview, which will give them a chance to review their portfolio and see how and what they have accomplished over their last four years in high school.

Five-day pre-school

The elementary school will now be offering a full five-day pre-school program.

Principal Megan Coburn said the new program will replace the previous four half-days for preschoolers, which she said proved difficult for many families to participate in because of the limited hours.

“This was a real combined effort with the towns, to figure out how we can capture more of the population rather than having parents have to put their children in private programs or take them out of the district,” Coburn said. “We hope to retain more students now moving forward.”

She said the program is fully integrated for students with learning disabilities, with a good ratio of students on individual education plans (IEPs) to peers who are not.

“We are actually very excited about it,” she said.

Phonics

Teachers in the elementary school and middle school will also be using Project Read, a literacy curriculum that focuses in part on phonics.

“This past year we hired a literacy consultant who met with all of our teachers and did an overall observation to pinpoint what we could strengthen,” she said. “They recommended that we work on phonics.”

As well as enhanced phonics instruction, the initiative also includes professional development for staff.

Inclusion

Coburn said the school has been doing professional development for best practices regarding inclusion and social and emotional learning.

A full inclusion model will be implemented for students in kindergarten through second grade, and in the middle school, in which students on IEPs will receive instruction in classrooms with their peers, where there will be licensed content specialists and additional supports with special educators.

“Research shows that students learn best when they are with their peers,” Coburn said. “Students in K through 2 that require more strategic and additional services will now be getting them in the classroom.”

School opens for students on Wednesday, Aug. 29.