Several years ago my school got a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. We developed Smaller Learning Communities (SLC). Students were able to pick an area of interest and would then be put into homerooms accordingly. Teachers were put into these academies with respect to their interests too.
I was in the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Academy (NRES). We had students that were interested in camping, animals, outdoor activities, etc. We would take them camping and do experiential education with them. It was a great program that the kids loved. (Read about it here, here and here.) But being a city school, we didn’t have enough kids that were interested in our academy or really knew what we did. We were also the smallest academy. When the budget shrunk, my academy was the first to go.
Now I have the consolidated homeroom of the NRES kids and we’re now in the Health Sciences Academy. The last several years the NRES academy has done things to spruce up the school grounds. We’ve raked leaves, planted trees and flowers, and also picked up trash. The kids were fine with doing those kinds of service projects for the school. We did joke around about being the academy that picks up the trash. But it was all in good fun.
As a part of the Health Sciences academy, we now learn about health careers one day per week. Lately we’ve been watching a video that follows a man through medical school, internship, and residency. It’s quite interesting. As we get further into his career, we see more. Today it was actually fairly graphic. There were people that were having procedures done that were yelling out in pain. They’ve shown cadavers. And there was some woman with a head injury today that was really hard to watch. The kids that are interested in Health Sciences were all watching. My NRES kids were squirming in their chairs and groaning about how gross it was and trying not to look. Finally, one girl raises her voice in desperation:
I’d rather be picking up trash!
I just burst out laughing. Every other NRES kid nodded in agreement. There’s nothing we could do but laugh. It’s sure going to be an interesting year!