Changes to the curriculum and design at Knightdale High School are also bringing significant changes to the faculty that will teach the school’s students next year.
All 100 licensed teachers at the school were required to reapply for their positions under the redesign. Those who are hired back will likely be given three-year contracts.
Although Wake County Public Schools declined to release the number of teachers who chose not to reapply or who were not rehired, there were 64 open positions – including 47 teaching positions – listed for Knightdale High School on the Wake County Public Schools online application site as of March 20.
It is unclear which positions were new positions added because of the redesign.
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The three goals that the administration kept in mind while rehiring, said principal Jim Argent, were building significant student relationships, maintaining a growth mindset and redefining the teaching process. Argent also declined to say how many current teachers were not offered jobs in the newly-designed school.
“Part of the redesign process was ensuring that we had a staff that would really buy into and support the school redesign,” Argent said. “We’re in the process of trying to have a growth mindset and (they need to) be willing to redefine themselves toward true school redesign... through teaching practices, problem-based learning and ensuring that we are creating a unique school that five years from now does not mirror a traditional high school.”
With the new hirings comes the possibility of a 10-month contract with an additional two weeks of teacher pay. School officials are waiting for the green light from the school board before following through on that promise. In the meantime, professional development is already underway and will pick up even more over the summer.
The new staff will also be expected to be involved outside of the classroom through mentoring and extracurricular activities.
Argent has said in the past that he knew that though most of the staff would be supportive, some were disconcerted with dramatic changes – both in the classroom and outside – that would impact their lifestyles. Some faculty did not intend to work with such a model when they initially came to the school.
The redesign will include five institutes offered this fall, including a leadership institute for freshmen and four specialized institutes for sophomores, juniors and seniors. The insitutes include innovation, creative design, government and global inquiry and entrepreneurship – all with a goal of real-life problem solving and a heavy emphasis on projects.
Students will also choose from a variety of diplomas other than a standard high school diploma, including an advanced placement capstone diploma, a career readiness certificate, a service-learning diploma and a cumulative senior project.
Many teachers who have been rehired say they understand that they will face some hurdles but insist they are ready for the changes.
Madalyn Batts, the high school’s agriculture teacher, said she is excited to work with people who are equally as excited for the new structure and curriculum change.
“It’s very innovative,” she said. “This isn’t something that your average schools are doing.”
Science teacher Nick Scanton was also rehired. He’s looking forward to the potential of the institutes, though he said many of the teachers will need training in the hands-on learning element that will dominate the upcoming structure.
“It’s the school everyone wants to be part of,” he said. “It’s a completely different method ot teaching.”
Not only will the curriculum be more hands-on, but the structure of the classroom and campus will support the activities with so-called learning hubs that would incorporate technology and laboratory space.
Argent hopes to have partnerships both internally and with local business and university partners for internships, apprenticeships, sponsorships and mentoring.
The school has also formed 22 working committees made up of parents, students and faculty to advise Argent in each area of the redesign.