Rye High School is helping students explore a number of new academic and extra-curricular paths, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the extraordinary administrative team that Principal Patricia Taylor has assembled.
By Dr. Frank Alvarez
Rye High School is helping students explore a number of new academic and extra-curricular paths, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the extraordinary administrative team that Principal Patricia Taylor has assembled. There is no doubt that the college and workforce experiences are changing, and schools must be one step ahead of the curve as we prepare our students for success after they graduate. While working to improve our existing programs, we have also launched several new initiatives.
As the education and technology worlds move forward on connected paths, there is a renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the High School. Within this arena is robotics, which was introduced in September for students in grades 9-12 and consists of two semester-long courses. In addition to drawing an overwhelming level of student interest, robotics has increased the appeal of previously existing programs, as the use of technology and motors is changing the way students develop ideas.
Robotics is also setting the stage for a pre-engineering program, which will be offered to students in grades 9-12 next September. As it takes time to prepare for a new program, the rollout will begin in January with initial conversations and gauging of student interest. Separately, although not new, the Science Olympiad Club and Science Research Program are growing in enrollment. Students involved with the Science Research Program, which begins in 10th grade and concludes with a final senior year project, are studying everything from sports injuries to grafting plants to African elephants. The new science wing will help support all the ongoing programs with better facilities, supporting instruction and learning opportunities with improved state-of-the-art resources.
The use of technology within the High School building is continuously evolving to support instruction. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) feature was introduced at the start of the school year, enabling teachers to use Smartphones and iPads as part of their lessons. It is a way of using “what we have” as a means to strengthen our educational program. The High School is also currently implementing new software to stream announcements, notes, and short video clips on four TVs throughout the building. Principal Patricia Taylor explained that this exciting feature will give students the opportunity to demonstrate some of their work through visuals – video clips, photos, and more – while promoting and building interest in classes, clubs, and organizations.
Numerous advancements have been made in other areas outside of STEM as well. The Yearbook Journalism course is flourishing, the phase-in of Mandarin continues, and art staff members have been engaged in conversations regarding future courses to support student interest. The Parsons Street Players group is actively growing and did a superb job in presenting its first play of the 2013-14 school year, “You Can’t Take it With You,” in October. The International Club has reinvented itself as an excellent channel for welcoming students who have moved to Rye from around the world, giving them a chance to learn from one another and experience aspects of various cultures.
While all of these courses, clubs, and opportunities play a strong role in preparing students for college and jobs after high school, the Senior Internship Program gives them direct exposure to future possibilities. The program, in its second year, is a thriving success, having gone from an enrollment of approximately 50 students last year to 120 students this year. Community members have been very supportive in helping seniors find opportunities to explore possible career interests before they leave for college.
As Mrs. Taylor emphasized, our teachers help drive and shape the future. By sharing their ideas, observations, and input as to what is most effective and what they would like to teach, they help us to determine the best ways to encourage and inspire our students. At the crux of our curriculum, courses, clubs, technology resources, and facilities is our mission to create lifelong learners.