June 1, 2016
On behalf of the WHRHS Board of Education, Superintendent Jewett and Principal Alexis, I would like to thank all the teachers, supervisors and staff who dedicated their energy, expertise and enthusiasm to the task of re-examining and editing our course offerings. One major change that is evident across the curriculum is the focus on instructional inquiry. Thanks also to the members of our guidance department, the technology committee, and academic council for recognizing the many advantages of providing course guides which because of their immediate accessibility will complement our online program of studies.These courses across departments also demonstrate a renewed focus on student centered learning and cross-curricular collaboration. This curriculum structure outlines a clear roadmap of what our students will know and demonstrate about a given subject. In addition, when read holistically, these curriculum documents illuminate the standards and critical thinking skills which the state of New Jersey defines as “essential.”
Another reason we are publishing these curriculum documents is to demonstrate the ease of using digital tools when looking for immediate information about a particular subject. But, we are equally committed to helping our present and future parents, community members, teachers and supervisors as they counsel students about building an individual four year instructional plan that encompasses core course offerings and electives which balance graduation requirements with student interest and authentic learning. Through immediate online access, we hope to help our students appreciate the breadth and depth of a subject they may know from middle school as well as interest them in a subject they have not previously considered. We hope members of our diverse learning community will begin to comprehend the challenges of building a four year instructional path (and not just a schedule) which not only prepares our students academically, but also helps them to celebrate their individual social, emotional, creative and artistic intelligences.
As with any initiative, we know that the hardest step can often be the first one, and no individual can embrace such an undertaking without the collective intelligence, support and leadership from many teachers,counselors and supervisors. Additional curriculum guides will continue to be added to the online portal of published documents, and there will be an opportunity to edit the published courses annually. We will continue to refine these documents because we believe in growing capacity in our entire learning community. Publishing these documents with a focus on inquiry helps us think beyond basic problem solving skills to ask what happens when the problem is not solvable by concrete thinking or rote memory. We remain open to continued conversations sharing best practices, effective strategies and new resources, as we continue to embrace 21st century learning.
Mary Ellen Phelan
Director of Curriculum and Instruction