Sioux Falls is paving the way for other communities around the country. When the Sioux Falls School District opened the New Technology High School 4 years ago, we became trailblazers in teaching kids to deal with real world issues. Nancy Naeve takes us inside the New Tech School that focuses on trust, respect and responsibility.
The New Technology School is unlike any other high school in Sioux Falls and really most schools in the nation. This is one of the few schools where everything that goes on under this roof is based on project based learning. It's popularity is growing. Enrollment has tripled in the last 4 years.
"Project based learning allows students to see the end goal and then find their own path to get there and that's what really sets us apart," Currie-Olson.
Jason Currie-Olson and George Hawkins teach American Experience. It's a big class that combines composition, literature, American film history and American history. The student's break into groups and work together on projects. Even though the names of classes are different, they still use all the core standards used in the district's curriculum. What they do with those subjects is different.
"They have to make collaborative decisions which makes them compromise, communicate, agree to disagree sometimes and this builds real world skills that are above and beyond the simple standards that are taught in 90% of other classrooms," Currie-Olson said.
The school doesn't cater to any one specific type of student or career field. In fact, after 8th graders apply their names go into a hat and are randomly drawn. Senior Wesley Rasmusson is so glad his name was picked 4 years ago. At the time he was struggling in the middle school setting.
"So coming here that was my goal to put myself out there to show people what I could do and I feel like New Tech has not only given me that opportunity, but let me portray it in more ways than one," Rasmusson said.
Wesley's classmate Kimberly Trujillo Rodriguez graduated early last month from new tech. she is one of only 2 so far to do so. She's volunteering in the office right now, but is headed off to Oklahoma for basic training with the National Guard.
"It helped me become more of an adult and now I feel more mature, like I'm able to go ahead and do things," Trujillo Rodriguez
"This school is unbelievable, unbelievable. I've said it once; I've said it a million times. I've never seen a model of education effective and powerful as this,"Currie-Olson.
Most of the students will go on to a 4 year College or University, but Currie-Olson said they've already succeeded far beyond what they ever imagined.
The Sioux Falls New Tech School is a demonstration site which means, almost weekly, teachers, administrators and college students from around the country come to see how it works.
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