Talent program boosts scores at ESJ

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 19, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS – Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Strategies used to create career opportunties at East St. John High School have educators taking note.

Educators from out of state, as well as from throughout Louisiana, recently visited East St. John High School to observe strategies used to create career opportunities for students in a small-school atmosphere.

East St. John is one of only a few schools participating in the Talent Development High Schools and Smaller Learning Communities models associated with Johns Hopkins University.

A Freshman Success Academy and Career Pathways Program have both been implemented at the high school level.

The Freshman Success Academy creates a ninth-grade campus, which includes freshmen students grouped together for all their classes. They are given a ‘double dose’ of study skills classes, as well as math and English courses.

The academy has already assisted the students in achieving higher scores, improved their attendance and significantly reduced behavior problems, according to a report from the superintendent’s office.

The Career Pathway Program offers students in grades 10-12 the opportunity to take career-related classes and emphasize core subject material in relation to their field of study.

The school’s four career pathways include Fine Arts, Industrial Technology and Humanities Pathway; Business, Engineering, Finance and Hospitality Pathway; Health Occupations, Human Services and Culinary Arts Pathway, and the Freshman Success Academy

Each pathway in broken down into specialized clusters. Students are grouped in “career major” areas for all of their courses, creating a smaller campus atmosphere.

This year, 13 schools took part in site visits to East St. John High School. Most were

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from Louisiana, in addition to two others traveling from Hawaii and Tennessee. Last year, six schools made the trip to Reserve, traveling from Florida, Kansas and Missouri.

“We were mentioned as a good site visit location at several national conventions last year, and the folks at Johns Hopkins University recommended us,” said Heidi Trosclair, East St. John High School staff development teacher. “We received several requests from around the country to come for a visit or for us to send more information.”

This led to the school organizing scheduled site tours at the same time for the interested educators.

Trosclair added that many of the visiting schools from within the state have reviewed East St. John High School’s curriculum structure. This was done in anticipation of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education requiring high school students to declare a career major and take a set number of courses within that field in order to graduate.