Good morning Falcon Families,
We hope your summer is off to a great start and you are enjoying some fun with your family. We would like to provide some updates for you and your family regarding some exciting opportunities for the 2021-2022 school year and beyond. That being said, here are some things we would like to share with you:
New Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming
We are instituting three new programs at the high school: Culinary Arts, Business Management, and Sports Medicine. New clubs and opportunities for career development through these CTE programs are taking place for our students for the 21-22 school year. We've been fortunate to hire excellent teachers to lead these three programs. The teachers that will be leading this department have a wealth of experience in these disciplines to instruct and share with our students. All three programs have already achieved full enrollment for the fall. In addition to these on-site CTE offerings, our students will continue to have the opportunity to participate in CTE programming at the EVIT campus in Mesa.
Updates to AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination)
AVID is a college and career preparation program that provides students support in high school to prepare for education and life. A team of staff completed a thorough review of the AVID program at FHHS in the 20-21 school year. The resulting improvements, which were based heavily on student feedback, include additional class periods and a more progressive structure to provide different content in subsequent years of participation. Additionally, Laura Herron, who has a tremendous amount of experience as an AVID Coordinator, will be leading this program. Her abundance of knowledge about the AVID program will allow us to provide even more to our students through this offering. Laura is also one of our math teachers at FHMS. We are excited to be able to share her talents at the high school as well.
New Dual Enrollment/Concurrent Enrollment developments
We are working on increasing opportunities for students to earn college credit while taking high school classes or attending college classes in lieu of high school classes. This will give students a step up if they are choosing to go to college after high school. The hiring we have done to date has been with this in mind, and many of the new hires have the educational background required to teach dual enrollment courses through local community colleges.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have received several emails regarding concerns about our great school district, particularly the high school. We are hoping to address some of the concerns reported to us regarding the viability of the high school for the 2021-22 school year. We are going to be as transparent as possible while maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of our staff.
Here are the concerns we've heard:
~ Teachers leaving the high school. We have a small staff at the high school – only 22 teachers. Four (4) teachers retired at the end of this school year and others chose to leave for various reasons including working closer to their home, family obligations, for leadership opportunities, and for full-time positions that our district was unable to offer given our student enrollment. The 2020-21 year has been incredibly difficult on everyone, but particularly the teaching staff. COVID, instructional methods (online and in-person at the same time) personal health concerns and having their own families at home during the pandemic has been stressful and exhausting. These aren't excuses, but situations and factors that we have had to consider as we worked through staff departures at all of our FHUSD schools. We are sad to see these staff members go. In conversations with other district and school leaders, this is happening in every school and district across the state. To date, we have only a couple of positions remaining to fill at the high school. You'll find many bios and pictures for our new staff members on our district's Facebook page. We are extremely excited about the new teachers we've hired to be part of our Falcon family.
~ Elimination of important courses. Of the departures mentioned above, two of those were our music and art teachers at the high school. Neither of these programs, music and art, are being eliminated from our offerings at the high school. We are focusing on improving those courses to build the music and art programs beginning in middle school and progressing to high school. We have many students whose talents lie in the arts, and we want to continue to offer them outstanding arts programs. Additionally, we've heard there are concerns related to elimination of AP (Advanced Placement) and AP Capstone courses next year. This is not the case. All previous AP and AP Capstone courses will be available to students at the high school next year. We are also looking at expanding the AP offerings for the 2022-23 school year, specifically in visual arts.
We pride ourselves in offering the best programs to our students. While we may be a small town; we have many avenues available to us to bring each and every FHUSD student a world class education. As always, we encourage you to reach out to us directly should you have concerns or questions. The district office is open throughout the summer Monday through Thursday 7:30 am to 4:00 PM. You may reach us via phone or email. We are always happy to help.