CAPE ELIZABETH — In an effort to allow students to explore their interests and take control of their own education, Cape Elizabeth High School is starting a new student-driven learning program.
High school Principal Jeff Shedd on June 9 explained the program to the School Board, and said it will go into effect this fall. It will be open to a limited number of juniors and seniors who must apply to participate.
Shedd said the program is “essentially allowing students an opportunity to propose particular independent-study projects that would take them out into the community, exploring an area of passion.”
Assistant Principal Nathan Carpenter on June 17 said 20 applications had been submitted, and he and Shedd would review them. He said there are a lot of unique proposals.
“It’s for kids who are really motivated, or have a passion or something they’re interested in,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said because it’s a pilot program, there are a lot of logistics that still must be worked out. He said he’s unsure how many proposals will be accepted, because they don’t want to take on more than can be handled.
“We know how cool it could be, but we’re wading through the details of how it could be successful,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter also said he’s unsure if each student will be paired with their own teacher or mentor, or if one teacher will oversee the entire program. Shedd said a new employee may fill this role.
“Our anticipation is that the person who is hired to be the extended learning opportunity coordinator would be sort of instrumental in making (the program) work,” Shedd said.
Carpenter said he also doesn’t know how students will demonstrate what they’ve learned, but he expects they’ll have to make a presentation at the end of the school year.
He said he knows what he wants some of students’ takeaways to be, though.
“We want them to make real-life connections to learning,” Carpenter said.
He said he wants the students to know that what they do in high school matters.
“We want them to be inspired and weave their daily passions into the academic learning they’re doing in school,” Carpenter said.
He said the program is about motivating students to take control and explore the things and ideas they care about.
“Who wouldn’t want to learn what they want to learn?” Carpenter said. “When you’re in charge of your education, how cool is that?”