CITY DISTRICT Small schools help students prepare for college, job market

More than 70 Youngstown students are enrolled in The Early College at Youngstown State University.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Many more students attending Chaney and Woodrow Wilson high schools and The Rayen School will likely be better prepared for college and be more successful in today's job market, thanks in part to several smaller schools functioning inside the larger schools.
Before their meeting Tuesday, school board members heard from Jerome Harrell, Bill Esterly and Pete Lymber, principals of Class Academy, The Center for Excellence and The Center for Interactive Exploration, respectively. All three are part of Youngstown Small Schools and each operates within one of the three larger high schools.
Larry Johnson, principal of the Youngstown Early College, also addressed the board. The Early College is set up at Youngstown State University to give city high school students an opportunity to take college-level courses. Seventy-two students are enrolled this year.
Today's job market
Superintendent Wendy Webb said the job market in the 21st century requires more critical and higher-order thinking, collaboration and technological literacy.
Some of the main themes of the small schools include creating an environment in which students' instruction is built largely on their knowledge base, teaching them how to apply what they have learned and stressing "relevance, rigor and relationships," such as how to build better respect between students and adults, Webb added.
The three small schools also have a core group of teachers who emphasize English, math and social studies, and the schools focus on academic standards, Webb continued. They are designed to give teachers "creative ways to meet the standards," she said.
"We want kids to be more academically prepared and prepared to work harder, and to come out with good social skills. Kids have to know how to work together in diverse groups," she said.
Giving students, many of whom live at or below the poverty line, a chance to have two years of college courses before they graduate from high school is the main goal of the early college, Webb noted. The early college is paid for largely through donations, fund-raisers and scholarships, Webb added.
"We're trying to increase diversity at YSU and raise the bar for kids to go to college," she said.
Kirkmere additions
In other business, Kirk Kreuzwieser, an architect with Hanahan Strollo & amp; Associates of Youngstown, said that renovations and work on a new addition to Kirkmere Elementary School will begin later this year. Additions to the 50-year-old school, on Youngstown's West Side, will include a new gym and more space for kindergarten pupils, Kreuzwieser said.
Estimated cost of the project is about $7 million, and work should be completed by fall 2006, he predicted.

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