Next year, qualifying Canyons District high school students will be able to take college-level Spanish, French and Chinese courses co-taught by University of Utah faculty.
The unique “bridge courses” will be taught in high school but are being offered for college credit as part of Utah’s Dual Language Immersion Program, which is challenging traditional models of educational delivery and bridging the gap that has separated K12 schools from institutions of higher learning. Different from concurrent enrollment offerings, Bridge Courses are for upper division (3000 level) credit, and as such, give students a healthy head start on a minor or major in their language of study.
“Dual immersion is putting pressure on our system of higher education to provide something that is not the same as has been provided in the past, and it’s a healthy pressure,” says Jill Landes-Lee, who directs the Bridge Program Advanced Language Pathway for the U.’s Second Language Teaching and Research Institute.
Dual immersion students spend a good portion of their instructional days learning a world language. They start as early as kindergarten or the first grade, and by the time they reach the 10th grade, their language proficiency is comparable to that of upper division university language students in their junior or senior year. To ensure they don’t lose ground and are able to continue to grow in proficiency, the state’s institutions of higher learning have committed to offer them college-level courses while they are still in high school — which is no small feat, says Landes-Lee. “As a university, we had to ask, ‘How do we support a student as young as 15 years of age?’ We also had to contemplate how to take a semester-long university course and extend it over a full year. We’re not just throwing another course into the high school sequence. It’s not just another elective.”
Dual immersion is catching on nationally as an effective and efficient means of achieving fluency in a non-native language. But no other state has articulated a K16 model like that being pioneered in Utah, says CSD’s Secondary Dual Language Immersion Coordinator Cassandra Kapes. “We are so thankful for the Legislative funding that is making this possible, and to be working with the state’s flagship university.”
Bridge courses, created in partnership with all of Utah’s colleges and universities, are already being offered at Jordan High in Spanish. Next year, Chinese and French will be added at Corner Canyon and Alta, and by the 2019-2020 school year, all of CSD’s five traditional high schools are projected to be offering the courses.
The courses will be co-taught in the high school setting as part of students’ regular schedules by a high school faculty member and a faculty member from the U., says Kapes. In order to enroll, students must pass the Advanced Placement (AP) Language and Culture Exam with a 3 or above in the ninth or tenth grade. Students can earn 3 credits per year, and up to nine college credits total — for just $5 per credit — giving them a jump on college and competitive edge in the global job market.
Dual immersion is coming of age, and bridge courses are the culmination of a vision for a biliterate, bilingual and bicultural Utah that was articulated years ago by former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Sen. Senator Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, and Rep. Eric Hutchings.
Last summer, Calena Slesser's sister was struck and nearly killed by a car while crossing the street. As her parents shifted their focus to hospital visits, medical consultations and rehabilitative care, Calena fell into the role of caregiver to her younger siblings.
It was a lot to shoulder for any high school senior, much less for someone who was putting in extra hours to get back on track academically. But no matter what personal and family hardships Calena has faced, she’s done so with grace and strength, never losing sight of her goal of graduating in the hopes of pursuing a college degree.
“She has fire in her belly and she has hope,” says Canyons School District’s Student Advocacy and Access Director Karen Sterling. “My hope for her would be that she continues on this high of realizing she can do hard things, and that she can make a future for herself and find within herself the strength to rise above any challenge.”
For her persistence in the face of adversity, Calena was chosen to receive the Canyons Education Foundation's premier $2,500 Rising Star Scholarship at the Foundation's seventh annual Spring Gala on Thursday, April 19. This year, the Foundation awarded a record $11,000 in college scholarships to nine deserving students.
At the event, which was held to generate funding for future scholarships, the Foundation also launched a new campaign to raise money to subsidize the cost of tuition for Canyons District teachers who are furthering their own education by enrolling in master’s and doctoral degree programs. “The Foundation works with community leaders and businesses to secure resources to fuel innovation in the classroom and help students realize their dreams. An important piece of the equation is supporting teachers in their efforts to grow professionally and improve their teaching practice,” says Foundation Officer Laura Barlow. “Many factors contribute to student success, but nothing matters more than having a passionate and highly-skilled teacher in the classroom.”
Not too long ago, Calena — whose family had been uprooted by financial and housing insecurities — was struggling to wake at 5 a.m. to catch a bus every day to school. Today, the 18-year-old plans to enroll at Salt Lake Community College, boasts a 4.0 grade point average for the term, and is working with her peers to start a student council at Diamond Ridge, Canyons District’s alternative high school.
Thankful for the close mentoring she received at Diamond Ridge, she says she wanted to give something back: “Everyone there is super supportive. They all want you to graduate and to succeed.”
Smart and tenacious, she’s “very generous with her time and talents and helps other students who are struggling,” says her math and financial literacy teacher Wendy Quigley. “She is one of those kids who could go really, really far given the opportunity.”
Congratulations to Calena and the following Bright Star Scholarship winners:
It’s no longer referred to as “vocational education” for a reason. Career and Technical Education has gone mainstream.
Today it’s seen as the path to acquiring the kind of marketable skills needed to succeed in high-paying industries ranging from health care, science and engineering to early childhood education. What's more, those skills are now often taught in tandem with core subjects to boost achievement in literacy, math and history. In fact, 94 percent of high school students take CTE courses, not to mention millions of college-age students.
Want to know how CTE applies to you and your teenage children? Join us at the South Towne Expo Center on Oct. 25-26 from 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. for a showcase of CTE training and job opportunities. Co-sponsored by school districts and postsecondary institutions throughout Utah, the event is free and open to the public.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A builder, a baker, or museum curator? An accountant, a barber, or brave fire fighter? How about a doctor, a researcher, or fabulous teacher?
Every year, on the Friday of the first full week of school, Canyons District celebrates Kindergarten College-Readiness Day, a time for our youngest students to share their dreams and begin to think about how they might achieve them. Each classroom finds its own way to celebrate. Some invite students to come to school dressed in the fashion of their career of choice. Others host a career-oriented show-and-tell. All students this year received blue bracelets bearing the words, "I will be college-ready. Class of 2030."
As Canyon View kindergarten teacher Carolyn Armstrong remarked to her class, "It's OK to be undecided, to want to do lots of things, or to change your mind." But even at the age 5, she says, it's important for students to begin to understand the pivotal role that education will play in getting them where they want to go.
In Armstrong's class, students' aspirations are limited only by their imaginations. There are a few fire fighters, policemen, teachers, doctors and veterinarians, a future chemist, rockstar, and robotics engineer. And there's Jonathan, who wants to be an inventor so he can invent a star grabber that grabs stars.
"We need all these jobs which is why it's so great that you all want to do different things," Armstrong said.
Students from Canyon View, East Sandy and Sunrise elementary schools celebrate Kindergarten Career and College-Readiness Day
Motivated, hard-working juniors at Alta High who are eager to get a jump on college at a tier-one, PAC-12 research institution — and who are willing to sacrifice a few summers to do it — were encouraged on Friday to apply for Step2theU, a novel program that will give a select cohort of qualifying students a chance to earn early college credit at the University of Utah.
“I can’t stress to you how unique and how rare this opportunity is,” Principal Brian McGill told an auditorium full of interested students. “There is only one other high school in Utah with a formal early-college partnership with the U.” In line with CSD’s mission to prepare all students for the rigors of college and careers, Step2theU is a unique, Canyons Board of Education-approved partnership between Alta and the U.
Hawks seeking to become Utes through the program will submit applications in their junior years. Application forms for the inaugural cohort of an estimated 35 students can be found on Alta’s website and must be submitted to the school’s Counseling Office by February 16, 2017. Each application will be assigned a number for anonymous review by a committee comprised of representatives of Alta and the U.
Grades, academic awards and extracurricular achievements will factor into the reviews, as will the rigor of students’ current coursework (Honors, AP and concurrent enrollment courses). The committee also will be looking for an ability to contribute to and benefit from a culturally and intellectually diverse learning community. “We want students who are ready for the challenge,” McGill said.
Students who are accepted will start taking U. courses taught by U. faculty this summer. Then, in the summer months after high school graduation and before the start of their freshman years, the students will take enough general-education coursework to complete another semester. It’s an in-classroom commitment of three full days a week, said McGill. But consider the benefits:
But those who complete the program will graduate with 30 college credits under their belts and be on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in 2.5 years. The value in tuition of those credits exceeds $10,000, but the cost to Step2theU participants is only $150. In addition, students will have access to U. faculty and researchers, campus sporting and arts events, and peer mentors.
And all credits are transferrable to other institutions of higher learning. “This new partnership with Alta High will allow us to put everything we know about student success into a state-of-the-art, early-college experience,” said Ann Darling, Assistant Vice President of Undergraduate Studies at the U.