Cape Coral Charter Schools make changes for new school year
With a new school year underway, the City of Cape Coral Charter School Authority continues to delve into new ways to engage its students and help them reach their highest potential.
Superintendent Jacquelin Collins said the municipal system is not comprised of typical public schools, but rather one that fits into their own, unique category.
“It’s a grassroots organization that started with parents,” she said.
The system is comprised of Christa McAuliffe Elementary, Oasis Elementary, Oasis Middle and Oasis High School. Collins said Christa McAuliffe is one of 56 schools in the state of Florida that is a “School of Excellence.”
“They have to have 80 percent proficiency in test scores in core subject areas. It’s a significant level of proficiency,” she said.
Oasis High School, a very unique, smaller version of a public high school, has 100 percent graduation rate every year.
“We are at the top 2 percent for graduation with AICE diplomas in the nation,” Collins said.
Each year the focus becomes how can staff increase the students’ scores by a couple of percentage points. This year, the focus is on English and Language Arts.
Collins said they will spend this year seeing how they can bump those scores up by implementing a plan through such ways as new curriculum and progress monitoring tools.
“We analyze date 24/7 to improve those scores,” she said.
This school year’s theme revolves around “students of leaders,” so they can effectively navigate their way through life.
“We have a population of students, called Generation Z. They don’t learn the same as we did back in school,” Collins said.
The method of learning had to change, because when a teacher stands in front of the class students become lethargic, bored and the care for grades disappears. With kids being exposed to technology their whole life – social media and the web – Collins said it has made them more mature. Unfortunately, the students do not know what to do with all the information at their fingertips, or how to interpret that information, she said.
This year, the school system is putting into place curriculum geared towards mental health issues, due to Title IV funds they received. Collins said it has been well received and she is very proud about addressing mental health issues because it is a big deal.
The elementary schools are using “Mind Up,” which focuses on a social and emotional learning path.
“It helps these young students in K-5, age 5-10, understand and interpret other students,” Collins said.
Feelings is a topic that is discussed, she said, because “feelings can be funny.”
“What you think people are thinking about you isn’t necessarily true,” Collins said, adding that the curriculum touches upon “mindful ways to respond to children, what they are saying and feeling.”
Middle school students are being exposed to “Habitudes,” which is a Growing Leaders program.
“It’s a digital program. It helps them address their needs and issues and teaches them how to be good strong leaders. How to rationalize things. It teaches them ways to be resilient in this ever-changing world,” Collins said. “There are a lot of parents that over protect and over shelter these children. It teaches these students independence and how to handle these projects independently with skills that we were brought up with that we take for granted. It’s teaching them how to be resilient and responsive on their own accord. There are weekly lessons in that book.”
The high school curriculum involves a character and leadership education series, which includes Steven Corey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” and “Growth Mindset” by Dweck.
Another hot topic at the forefront of every parents mind is bus safety, which the City of Cape Coral Charter School Authority has addressed.
“We revamped our transportation and bus stops and aligned it with Lee County with semi-permanent bus stops,” Collins said. “We revamped with every bus route and bus stop to make sure we are focusing on student safety.”
This change is a big shift because they have had the same bus stops for the last 10 years, Collins said.
“It didn’t meet the safety requirements that Lee County wants to meet. We have done some changing. Parents will see that change is a good thing for their students.”
Another change, the school system will no longer transport students to private organizations, or centers, but only to residential addresses.
“For the last three years they got dropped off at a Tae Kwon Do organization down the street. It’s expensive to add extra stops. (Parents will have to) reconfigure what they are going to do for their after care program,” Collins said.