RAYNE — The technology and specialized programs that will be part of the area’s new technical high school aren’t what will make it a successful schools of choice academy, supervisor Burnell LeJeune said Friday.
“It’s the people that make up that place — the teachers, the parents, the students, the business community,” LeJeune, the school’s staff career and technical education supervisor, told the staff of the David Thibodaux Career and Technical High School.
About 30 school faculty and staff members met for the first time Friday to build community among the staff, which includes both middle and high school teachers.
The retreat’s purpose also included conversation that will shape the school’s vision, said Jeff Debetaz, Thibodaux’s principal.
That vision won’t be written with faculty and staff input alone but will also include student, parental and community ideas, he said.
“One important thing in building a vision is supporting each other and moving in the same direction,” Debetaz said. “The days of teachers walking into a classroom opening a textbook and doing drill and kill are over.”
He added that he wants the staff to keep this question as the focus of what they do: “Is this what’s best for our children?”
The school is a response to the business community’s request for a school that prepares students for careers, LeJeune said.
The school enables students to earn a diploma in tandem with business and industry-based certification and postsecondary credit.
Thibodaux opened last year with 50 ninth-graders at a temporary site on the campus of Acadiana Technical College.
In August, the high school moves to its permanent home — the campus of the recently closed N.P. Moss Middle School with ninth- and 10th-grade classes.
The high school will also gain Moss’ existing schools of choice academy focused on STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math).
There’s now a waiting list to get into both the STEM Academy and Thibodaux High, LeJeune said.
Enrollment goals were 250 students for the high school and 300 students in STEM Academy.
Both are schools of choice programs that enable students from across the district to apply for a spot to attend.
Both also offer students a curriculum integrated with their interests. Technology and project-based learning are also major components.
Sherrie Campbell is new to the STEM Academy staff and will teach history in August.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to see how the connection between the middle and high school works together,” Campbell said.
Debetaz led the group through communication-building exercises and discussions on the culture they want to develop at the school.
Debetaz shared with them observations from visits of career and technical high schools in Nevada’s Clark County that were used as a model for Thibodaux.
Academic letter jackets were the norm at the schools, and Debetaz said he hopes that trend carries over to Thibodaux.
The Clark County campuses are large, with about 1,800 students, and of the five campuses visited, four administrators said they could only recall one or no fights at the school, he said.
“Y’all building a school culture where you have that is powerful,” Debetaz said.