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Dr. Fidel Montero is now in his second year as principal at Timpview High School. It is obvious that he cares deeply for his school and the future of his students, practicing the idea that there are always new things to learn and ways to improve to help his students. “Kids are stepping into an economy and a world that has become more complex,” he explained. “We feel that the skills they need to succeed today have really shifted from the skills needed to be successful in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. They need to be able to think on the fly. They need to be able to work as part of teams. They need to understand how to work in a world that is much faster because of technology. All of this requires a different set of skills that as a school we feel obligated to equip them with.”
Dr. Montero, along with teachers and staff, began by updating Timpview’s mission statement. According to Dr. Montero, “Helping students be college and career ready” was already part of the statement. “We wanted to add ‘life ready’ to our mission, achieving this through growth, excellence and inclusion.” Dr. Montero placed special emphasis on inclusion, stating that it is “one of the most important things we can teach our students. If a child can leave Timpview placing significant value on inclusivity and the importance of diversity then we will have achieved something and added something to their lives.”
Knowing that success or failure in the 9th grade year is a strong predictor of performance for the rest of the high school experience, Dr. Montero organized a committee of teachers tasked with the creating the ideal situation to aid incoming freshman with their transition to high school. The school established a goal to see 100% of freshman complete their freshman year with the expected credits to move on to their sophomore year. Every new initiative and program is intended support this goal, which will set students on a course to graduate high school.
The committee spent several months studying some of the best schools in America to see what was working. A proposal framework for 9th grade was developed and subsequently studied by department chairs, the community council, and other stakeholders. These groups then provided recommendations, which the school used to implement several new programs/initiatives. These programs will be evaluated regularly to ensure their value and efficiency.
Advisory period matches every student with a teacher mentor whose sole purpose is to make sure that that student is having a positive experience at school. The advisory period meets a couple of times a week and is structured like a regular class period. The teacher mentor meets with each of their students one-on-one. The teacher mentor also gives lessons on life skills such as perseverance, patience and grit. Even the administrative team has joined this effort and mentors a group freshman during advisory period. Advisory period will also provide students a teacher resource to turn to when needed.
The committee quickly recognized that many students were entering 9th grade were reading below grade level. Since literacy skills are foundational for all classes in high school, the school and the community council worked to fund new literacy programs. A new literacy specialist was hired, and a class was created to help students who have fallen behind. The new class has enrolled about 100 students this year.
The committee also found that student attendance needed to improve. Students were missing classes or showing up late too often, and it was affecting performance. Knowing that showing up was half the battle, Timpview implemented a set of attendance expectations and communicated this new narrative to students.
Extended Time Program
Timpview has many after-school programs, but they have been conducted in isolation from each other. Under the direction of the new Dean of Students, and in collaboration with the assistant principal over student affairs, these programs have now been brought together under one umbrella. Students also now have access to an afterschool homework center, credit recovery, accelerated opportunities and more.
For years, special education students have received instruction from a special education teacher instead of a teacher trained in the specific subject of the class. This year, Timpview is making changes to ensure that special education students receive instruction from content experts in subjects such as math and science. These students are included in classes with their peers, and are also being supported by special education teachers. The students are front-loaded with the information they will be learning on a subject, and when they arrive in class, are better prepared to understand the content.
Each of these programs is designed to elevate the educational experience for each and every student at Timpview High School. Through the work of dedicated administrators, faculty and staff, Timpview has created a framework designed to prepare students for graduation and life after high school. These programs will continuously be evaluated, redesigned and added to in order to provide students with the best educational opportunity they can have.