High school showcase events at Eagle County Schools aid transitions (column) | VailDaily.com

High school showcase events at Eagle County Schools aid transitions (column)

One experience that almost everyone shares across our country is education. Whether in a public or private school setting, charter, home school, online or any combination, the process of gaining an education is a life experience. All of us have been to school in some shape, form or fashion, yet as teachers, students and parents sharing this commonality doesn’t mean that our experiences were or are the same. In the case of education, this is truer than ever.

Gone are the days many of us experienced in school — orderly classrooms with rows of desks facing forward, textbooks open, eyes glazed on the lecturing teacher. Today, students enjoy open work spaces, desks in circles or groups within classrooms and state-of-the-art technology linking them to unlimited volumes of online resources. Students are encouraged to go deeper into the content being learned, hone collaborative and analytical skills and think of their teachers as guides to their own self-directed learning.

There is a lot of pressure as a parent to feel like you’re doing the best you can to ensure your children get everything you got from your own education and more. At some level, we justifiably feel like experts in at least speaking to our personal takeaways from having gone to school. However, knowing and understanding the expectations of what is currently happening inside the walls of our schools can be wildly different from even five or 10 years ago, and it can be intimidating, even to those of us who work in education settings.

All of these feelings, and emotions are especially heightened in kindergarten, fifth grade, eighth grade and 12th grade — the transition years. While tissues are the tool of choice for many parents leaving their kindergartner at school on their first day, there can be very different emotions as students transition to high school. Leaving and entering different schools can be challenging, for students and parents alike.

As students move from middle to high school things change. Setting aside the massive physical and emotional growth kids experience at this point, the high school experience also brings greater accountability for actions and choices, both good and bad.

There are many educational pathways for students in high school. Will they opt for more challenging classes? Will they choose elective classes in math and science or more arts and humanities, based on what interests them personally? Will they apply for internships or be inspired to pursue a career path because they connect with a mentor or undertake an apprenticeship? Students will be challenged by more or different kinds of homework and group projects, success defined by how well they handle their newfound independence and abilities to be self-directed and motivated learners. For some, it may be the first time they participate in school activities beyond sports, or have opportunities to learn about advocacy and supporting issues and causes that they care about as young adults.

During a transition, having adults that children can rely on to guide them along the way is the most important and influential factor. Parents and family members engaged in their lives is critical for student success, as are teachers and administrators who inspire their academic growth and support their social development in a school framework. Students need room to grow, and the permission to make mistakes along the way. As much as they will learn algebra and chemistry in high school, they will also learn that what they do, and the choices they make, matter for their future.

This week, both Eagle Valley High School and Battle Mountain High School opened their doors hosting showcase events for our upcoming eighth graders and their families. With enrollments exceeding 900 students, these schools are large enough to offer academic rigor through college-level classes and extracurricular prowess through sports and activities that a larger high school offers, yet small enough to maintain a personal experience for each and every one of our students. We are proud of these schools and how they meet the needs of students as individuals, and prepare them to be our global-ready graduates.

If you have student moving up to high school next year and didn’t have the opportunity to attend a high school showcase event, then please call the counseling office at your school to make an appointment and come for a visit. You’re welcome at any time.

Tammy Schiff is the Chief Communications Officer for Eagle County Schools. Greg Doan is principal of Eagle Valley High School.

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