Switching things up

Wayne Township plans for major changes next year

At 6:30 Monday night, Wayne Township educators and administration gathered in the education center to discuss plans for a Secondary Redesign program that would change the way we look at senior year. Throughout the course of the meeting, plans were brought forward that would put an emphasis on intellectual thought, career pathways and how to market this plan within our township and to community members.

The meeting kicked off with a short introduction by John Taylor, the Chief Secondary Officer for our township.


“The eighth semester needs to be a firm, well planned and articulate bridge to either college or career,” Taylor said. “This must include teaching the skills needed for the next stage of life.”

At the beginning of this year, there was not much decided about the Secondary Redesign program. Committees made up of administrators and educators were formed to focus on four areas: Habits of Mind, Pathways, Capstone projects and marketing.

The plan is still in its beginning stages, and parts of the plan are hoped to be implemented by next year.

The Habits of Mind framework, presented by Dominic Day of Lynhurst and Shannon Singleton of Ben Davis, is centered around the idea that students have to have the ability to foster intellectual thought “in order to be successful and productive citizens,” Day said.

In order to make sure that students get the time they need to “think about how they think,” as Singleton said, this committee plans to set time aside either every day or at least every week in order for students to learn to develop skills of intellectual thinking while “embedding a language of success within our schools.”

Not only will Habits of Mind help to reform the way that students think, it will help to “set Ben Davis students apart from everybody else,” Day said.

As of now, this program is expected to start in grades seven through twelve next year. As Singleton pointed out, “each school will have a different strategy for how they implement the program, but all schools will shoot for the same goals”.

For this part of the plan, professional development between Wayne Township schools is key. “There would have to be a continuous conversation between school advisors,” Singleton said. “We have great resources already”.

Further, this committee plans to extend this program into the community.

“There would be a community buy-in,” Day said. “We would be able to show what we are producing and what we value”.

The most important thing to know about Habits of Mind is that it is intended to help students “learn what not to do and internalizing habits of mind,” as Singleton put it. “We would have to give students time to practice learning to pause, think and unplug”.

The second of the four areas is Pathways. Like every part of this plan, it relates directly to every other part of the Secondary Redesign layout.

“We, as educators could help direct habits of mind into a productive and effective outcome,” said German teacher Kristen Dawn.

The mission statement of this particular area of the plan is “to empower students to identify their strengths and passions to propel themselves along defined college and career pathways”.

“This could easily be tied into our current curriculum,” Tim Pratt, who teaches engineering and technology here at Ben Davis, said. “We would be implementing a globally used process used by companies looking for innovations”.

While laying out the foundation for this plan, this committee modeled it around students. There are three different parts of this plan. The first is the “exploring” stage, which would allow students to try and look at different courses to get an idea of where their passion may lie.

The next stage involves students starting to focus on a specific pathway that is of interest to them. The final stage allows students to set a foundation for their future education, creating a model that best serves them. This pathway is referred to as a “major”, which is defined by the committee as a “defined plan with specialty courses for students in grades nine through twelve”. The committee plans to break up the “majors” into different “schools”. “Innovation” would be the school of science, “Imagination” the school of liberal arts, and “Inspiration” the school of health and human sciences. EL and special services would be available in all three schools to ensure that every student gets the most out of their education.

The third committee, represented at the meeting by English teacher Bobby Chin, was responsible to brainstorming what is being called Capstone projects. These projects would allow students to take their chosen pathway and expand upon it, which includes the opportunity to work an internship.

As Chin described a project, it is essentially “an academically diverse way that Ben Davis students can find success”. The first phase of this project includes research, which would be a self-directed proposal, primarily conducted outside of Ben Davis.

The next phase involves an internship, which allows students to “make connections between the academic world and the world of work.”

Chin says Capstone projects would drastically change the way that many students view senior year. As Chin explained, many students lose interest their senior year because they feel that it is simply “more of the same”.

However, being given the opportunity to get a taste of the world of work could give students motivation and allow them to gain a value of knowledge that can be used as an agent for positive change in a global society,” Chin said.

In order to prepare seniors for this project, this committee believes it would be important for seniors to take a critical thinking course during their first semester that would “challenge their intellectual comfort zone”.

Then, students would individually “choose a topic to create their own projects to help inspire themselves to help others,” Chin said. “This project is a big responsibility that should move you to action.”

Throughout the year, students would report back on a weekly basis with Ben Davis alumni in the community to ensure that their project runs smoothly.

“This gives the community a chance to metaphorically give back by helping current students,” Chin said. Projects of this type have been found to be successful at Ben Davis University, which is why “we take what’s working and amp that up to give more students these opportunities,” Chin said.

Because the goal is to help more students, this program would be open to students with varying GPA’s.

“This program won’t take away from AP or ACP classes,” Chin said. “The focus will be on students who are not maximizing their senior year.”

At the conclusion of the Capstone projects, it is planned that the projects would be judged, giving finalists scholarship opportunities. Not only will these projects help to “distinguish Ben Davis students,” but it would also help Giants “form relationships within the community,” Chin said.

The final piece of this puzzle is how we as a Township would market this plan to the community.

The marketing committee, represented by WBDG General Manager Jon Easter and English teacher Jason Brumback explained that the main goals of the marketing committee are to build support within the community, create awareness and excitement for the program and to identify the impact that the Secondary Redesign program can have.

The committee, which was made up of people with a background in marketing, worked with the other committees to “create a brand for the efforts of Secondary Redesign program that creates momentum,” Easter said.

To do so, the committee plans to work closely with Spotlight, WBDG, BDTV, middle school TV to get the word out, along with creating brochures and Youtube videos and using social media to raise as much awareness of the program as they can. Like any other brand, a slogan was necessary. This committee came up with the slogan “Wayne 360,” emphasizing the idea that this will change not only  senior year, but how we prepare for senior year beginning in middle school.

“Discover your path” serves as the secondary tagline.

“We wanted something ‘hashtaggable’,” Brumback said. “That way, we can get it out into the community”.

To sum up all of the information that was brought before the school board, Taylor explained that a pilot run would begin next school year.

“We are designing a pilot run for the 2015-2016 school year,” Taylor said. “We will focus on one area at a time, and then move to implement the plan in full.”

In a closing response, Superintendent Dr. Jeff Butts explained that, while exploring ideas for the Secondary Redesign program “we have been listening to what colleges are telling us about what they’re looking for. This program will help us continue our cycle of success, along with being even more successful in the future”.

As the meeting came to a close, it was evident that the committee members worked diligently to devise a plan that would greatly benefit Wayne Township students. Not only does this plan pave the way for students to foster a deeper level of thinking and to get out into their community, it also gives our community the ability to witness the impact that our schools are having on our students and to give back.

“Wayne Township does a fantastic job at serving students and maximizing their potential, and I strongly believe that the Secondary Redesign program will continue this township down the road to excellence,” Butts said.