History of the Academies of Shakopee

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    In August 2014, the School Board approved the recommendations from our Secondary Academic Design Team, a group of teachers and administrators tasked with reimagining our secondary programs. One recommendation focused on improving student transition to post-secondary and beyond by organizing student electives into six areas of interest.
     
    The six areas of interest are:
    • Arts & Communication
    • Business & Entrepreneurship
    • Engineering & Manufacturing
    • Health Science
    • Human Services
    • Science & Technology
     
    These areas of interest will become the Academies of Shakopee in the fall of 2018. There will also be a Freshman Academy for 9th grade students. The Freshman Academy will allow students to discover their own unique interests and then choose a home academy for their sophomore through senior year. Academies are small learning communities of students and teachers who are organized around the areas of interest. Students will have the opportunity to connect with others who have similar aspirations and with teachers who can make meaningful connections to their plans for the future.
     
    Building Our Future  
    Typical Classroom
     
    The Shakopee community strongly expressed its desire to maintain one high school in the March 2014 referendum and again in the successful May 2015 referendum. The District listened and, as a result, a high school with a capacity of 3,200 students will be built and opened in the fall of 2018.  With a focus always on our students, district leaders worked to find a way to create a welcoming, inclusive environment within a large high school setting.  That’s where the Academies of Shakopee come in. “The Academies of Shakopee is a perfect fit for our district,” said Nancy Thul, Director of Teaching and Learning. “It aligns with the recommendations made by the Secondary Academic Design Team to reorganize elective courses into six areas of interest.  This organizational structure will be the curriculum framework for academies.  And now we have this amazing opportunity to physically design our high school around this model."
     
    The Academies of Shakopee will be comprised of small learning communities organized based on the district’s six academic areas of interest. In 9th grade, students will enter the Freshman Academy, which will provide the necessary skills to transition to the high school and provide additional time to explore courses offered by the six academies: Arts & Communication, Business & Entrepreneurship, Engineering & Manufacturing, Health Sciences, Human Services and Science & Technology. Students will spend time discovering their own unique interests. They will then select a home academy for their sophomore through senior year. While students will take a majority of classes in their home academy, they will still be able to meet their needs by taking courses from other academies as well.
     
    High School Core Planning Group 

    Core Following the successful referendum, teachers, parents, community members, and current students came together to form the High School Core Planning Group. This group was responsible for the design and development of Shakopee High School. They further dived into researching the academies model. “It’s very exciting,” said Gina Boots, teacher at East Junior High. “As we continue to build on this new model and learn and adjust as we go, this will be a transformational experience for our students, parents, teachers and community as a whole.”

    "One of the issues for students in a traditional high school model is the lack of connection between elective course options and what they may pursue in post secondary and career.  This model strengthens the connection to post-secondary and career options resulting in students who will graduate with a clearer vision of what they want to pursue as next steps,” said Nancy Thul, Shakopee Public Schools Director of Teaching and Learning. District leaders, like Nancy, believe that this model will help students find their unique interest and passion. The District will continue to work on the implementation of the Academies model. With the help of our teachers, course alignment into the areas of interests has already begun in grades 6-8 and will continue into the high school level courses. Specifics will also need to be ironed out by other user groups as we move toward the fall of 2018. The District is committed to ensuring that the transition is smooth and successful for students and teachers. 

    “I really wish I had the possibility of doing Academies!” said Ankith Arun, sophomore at Shakopee High School who also served on our High School Core Planning Team. “I would like the community to know that as we head closer to our new building, we are constantly finding new ways to make it better for the students, staff and community as a whole.”

     
     
     
    The Academies of Shakopee: My Place. My Path. My Future.