WESTPORT — Staples High School is eyeing the addition of six electives for the 2018-19 school year that would take a more interdisciplinary approach to learning across departments.
“We have a very thorough process at Staples High School for bringing new courses to the Board of Education, where courses come from the passions of teachers and, in some cases, as you’ll probably hear tonight, from requests from students,” said Staples High School Principal James D’Amico.
At Monday night’s meeting of the Board of Education, D’Amico and Staples teachers presented the proposed courses: food in literature, writing and practice; children’s literature; digital foundations; introduction to embedded systems programming; accelerated science 1 and 2; and advanced statistics in the social sciences.
According to English teacher Kim Herzog, food in literature, writing and practice would merge educators from departments like science, art, graphic design and health to provide a multifaceted understanding of cooking, from preparation to selecting healthy ingredients, to presentation and marketing.
“Another really exciting portion of this course is the vast opportunities for cross collaboration,” said Herzog, who worked with cooking teacher Cecily Gans to develop the course.
Digital foundations is a computer design course offered in partnership with the University of Connecticut’s pilot program Early College Experience, which would give students an opportunity to earn college credit in a non-Advanced Placement (AP) setting.
Introduction to embedded design is a computer programming course that allows students to gain a better understanding of “how hardware actually works,” according to Staples Science Department Chair AJ Scheetz.
Grade 6- through-12 Mathematics Coordinator Andrew Hill said that advanced statistics in the social sciences fills a void. Currently, the school offers full-year AP statistics, or a more introductory first semester class called statistics A, but no second-semester non-AP option. Also, Hill said the course would work to take statistics out of the classroom, focusing more on real world application, critical thinking and inference, which he said is the key to statistics.
“What we haven’t had is a second semester non-AP level statistics course to take that student who had statistics A, who had that introduction to probability and distributions, and really start talking about inference,” Hill said.
The classes will be voted on by the Board of Education at their next meeting and, if approved, will be added to the course list for the 2018-19 school year.
“I think it’ll give a nice context to the Board of Finance in terms of exactly why we fight for every dollar for education, because we are able to give our students choices and experiences that are second to none,” D’Amico said. “The future of Staples High School lies in making sure that our students have multiple pathways to success and they feel like they have a place at the school.”