Planning for Larger Schools in ECISD 9/20/12
CBS 7 News
September 20, 2012
If voters in Ector County pass a $129 million dollar bond proposal, the way campuses are organized will change. 6th through 8th graders will be in middle school and 9th through 12th graders in high school. It's motivating principals to come up with new ways to create a more personal education.
So how do you achieve that goal? That's the question they're asking teachers, parents and students.
Permian principal Roy Garcia tells a classroom full of students, “What we want to talk about is how we can make this big school feel smaller." He’s leading one of many student sessions taking place this week on his campus.
But it's not just students. He's also meeting with teachers, coaches, counselors, music directors, and parents to develop some "best-practices" for ensuring that students are safe and successful.
Garcia says, "We've gotten ideas from every group I go to and I say - I can do that even if we don't add 1,100 more students or a new building. Just make Permian a better place for students."
One of the tools they're using is a system that organizes students by "dens."
"So the dens are basically like small schools within the larger PHS," says Garcia.
The entire student body is assigned a den based on their last name. This cluster of students is made up of about 550 kids and they have their own office on campus.
"They stay together from the time they hit the doors until they graduate. So family members, brothers and sisters, they already know the principal, counselor, attendance clerk. They've developed a relationship."
Garcia says he and his counterparts at Odessa High and New Tech will take the ideas they hear during these meetings and come up with a plan.
It’s a process that impressed student Adralai Porras who said, "They actually took the time rather than just throw random things in that they want to do. They asked for our opinion."
Garcia says, "Something we forget is to listen to the ones who matter most - the ones it impacts the most.”
The students and parents had some great ideas. Porras loves music and suggested a club where students talk about and even perform the styles they like, in order to help students feel connected. Some parents expressed interest in a closed-campus lunch period and improved communication with teachers. All agreed, students need more opportunities for tutoring. Garcia says that plan is already in place.