When the more than 100 students started back to school at the Methodist Children’s Home charter school this school year they were welcomed back into the classroom with new school initiatives, staff and technology.
The charter school, operated on the Waco campus in partnership with the University of Texas-University Charter School system, serves youth in grades 6 through 12 who live on the Waco campus and Boys Ranch, as well as a limited number of students from the community. The district theme this school year is “Framing the Future,” which is taken from a book on best teaching practices used by the charter school teachers called The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction by Sean Cain and Mike Laird. As part of the theme, school staff are challenged to think about how they are framing the future so students can be successful.
To follow the theme this academic year, students will receive “Bulldog bones” when they display good behaviors – symbols which will be displayed on the cafeteria wall. At the end of each six week grading period, staff will draw a name of one of the students who received a “Bulldog bone” and the winner will receive their picture on the wall as well as a gift card.
On Mondays and Fridays, students gather for “proactive circles” during homeroom where they are given a quote about a life skill during announcements. After the announcements, students and staff discuss that life skill. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, teachers use the “Why Try” curriculum, a resiliency program where teachers use graphics and art to explain an important life lesson.
Four new teachers were added to the charter school staff this year, along with three instructional aides who assist in classrooms. The building also received several new security cameras.
Sixty laptops will be used in classrooms for social studies, financial math, English and science classes, provided by the donor-funded Education Enrichment Fund. Students check out the laptop during class time to work on interactive lessons and web-based curriculum. The laptops are intended to help keep students engaged and focused on the lesson.