On Monday, January 8th, 2018, superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard came to Highland for a listening group to get students opinions and experiences at Highland, and in the SPPS district in general. I was lucky enough to be a part of this listening group.
The meeting started with Dr. Joe Gothard giving us a little background on his life, and how he got the job as our superintendent. There was also a cameraman recording, and a woman typing notes throughout the whole meeting. He was also taking notes and responding to what some of the students had to say.
A common topic from the students was that Schoology isn’t their favorite app to use because it’s hard to navigate, we can’t always see how much our assignments are worth (points), and teachers still have to take attendance on Campus Portal.
Something else that came up was the 6 period school day and how it would negatively impact students. Students said there would be less time in the day to take the electives that they’re passionate about, and students who are doing the full IB Diploma said it would make it harder for them to take classes/electives that are required for the full diploma like Theory of Knowledge.
Another hot topic was the lack of representation of teachers of color at Highland. Some students of color mentioned that for them, it’s harder for them to make connections with their teachers because they do not look like them.
Something that really stuck out with me, was the transition from middle school Spanish Immersion to high school Spanish Immersion. Highland middle school is the only middle school in the district that offers a Spanish Immersion program. There, you get instruction in math, social studies, and science in Spanish. When you come into Highland, freshman year, and continue the Spanish immersion program, you take social studies, and the immersion class in 9th and 10th grade. Junior and senior year, you only take the immersion class in Spanish. It makes it harder to understand your core classes when you were taught everything in Spanish.
Other things that were mentioned were adding gender neutral bathrooms, more funding for clubs, and having a wider range of electives. Hopefully, with this listening group, there will be positive changes at Highland and in SPPS for the years to come.