3 Dean Students Medal at Skills USA Competition

Dean Technical High School sent 19 students to the regional Skills USA competition on March 10th, and three students returned winners, pushing them to the state competition in April. The competition was held at McCann Technical School in North Adams, Massachusetts, and Dean competed against seven other schools from the region.IMG_0227

Out of the 450 competitors, Dean’s Adeline Skuse won a silver medal for cabinet making, Hector Cabrera won gold for Diesel Technology, and Anthony Skuse won gold in Sheet Metal Fabrication. If they medal at the state competition, where they will compete against students from the entire state of Massachusetts, they will move on to the national competition later this year.

Last year Dean Tech students attended the Skills USA competition as delegates, but this year was the first time in 14 years that Dean students were able to participate in the competition as a result of reenergizing the Skills USA relationship in the 2013-14 school year and a renewed focus on achieving excellence in technical education.

This year, sophomores attended as delegates to get a better understanding of the competition, and juniors and seniors were allowed to fully compete. Their recent success proves that Dean students are more than prepared to participate and compete at the highest level in these important professional development events.

Skills USA is one of the country’s largest CTSO (Career Technical Student Organizations), and it serves high school and collegiate vocational education programs. Skills USA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry workers who have come together to guarantee that those who have a passion for these careers are represented and well-qualified to pursue jobs in these fields. Skills USA helps each student excel, providing educational programs, events and competitions that support career and technical education (CTE) in the nation’s classrooms. Using these skills also helps students gain access to jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields, which are in high demand.

The competition requires students to perform tasks and answer questions about their particular field, which the students choose based on their classes and training. For example, the cabinet making competition requires the building of a small cabinet from materials and drawings supplied. Students must read the drawings, lay out and cut the parts using various tools provided at the competition. They must also demonstrate knowledge of OSHA standards as part of the oral examination.

Since the success at the competition, Dean students have become energized and are already taking steps to succeed at the state competition. They have started a Skills USA club where they formally practice for their specific competitions, and they have been practicing learning OSHA protocol to ensure they are well prepared for the oral examinations in the next competition.

We wish the best of luck to Adeline Skuse, Hector Cabrera, and Anthony Skuse at the upcoming state competition and are so proud of these Dean students!

Become a Dean Tech Teacher for the 2015-2016 School Year!

Project GRAD USA is currently recruiting outstanding secondary school teachers for one of its GRAD Academies in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Dean Technical High School is a dual-track high school that offers both college preparation and career technical education (CTE). Dean is the first high school in Massachusetts, and the first vocational high school in the country to adopt the New Tech Network model, a project-based learning approach supported by a comprehensive technology platform. Through New Tech, Dean faculty are part of a nationwide network of teachers and students who are demonstrating that students can meet challenging academic standards through hands-on engagement with meaningful, locally relevant questions and problems. To find out more about Dean Tech, click here. To learn more about joining the Dean Tech team, click here.

Dean Tech is also recruiting teacher leaders as part of the T3 (Turnaround Teacher Teams) Initiative, a teacher leadership program for experienced, effective teachers in high-needs schools.

T3 Teacher Leaders learn, lead, and collaborate to improve teacher practice and student outcomes. T3 typically partners with schools for a 2-3 year cycle to create and sustain systems and structures to support ongoing student achievement. T3 Teacher Leaders are expected to commit to their role for the full length of the partnership. Click here to learn more about the Roles and Responsibilities of a T3 Teacher Leader, and you can click here to find out more about the application process.

All interested applicants can email resumes and cover letters, along with specifiying which school they are interested in applying to, to hr@projectgradusa.org, or contact Patrick Elyas, the chief of staff, with any questions (pelyas@projectgradusa.org)

 

Dean Tech Hosts 2nd Black and Gold Night

Dean Tech hosted on October 14th its annual Black and Gold Night, an open house for parents to learn more about the school. Unlike typical open houses where parents follow their child’s class schedule and walk the halls of the school to get an idea of a typical school day in their child’s life, parents at Dean gathered in the cafeteria to see a trade show set-up with tables for Dean Tech’s departments and after school clubs. Girls, Inc., Holyoke Community College, Enlace de Familias, and other key community partners of Dean also had tables set up in the cafeteria, providing information for parents and students on how to get involved with the school’s partners.

“We’re looking for every opportunity we can to engage the community in different ways and make the school welcoming for others,” shared Barry Bacom, principal of Dean Tech. “We want to show off the cool things we have going on here, and that’s why we don’t host a typical open house for parents.”

The music department provided a soundtrack for the night with musicians performing in the cafeteria, and faculty and students from the culinary department made mini paninis for the parents to snack on as they picked up student schedules and scavenger hunt lists. The hunt led parents to classrooms, the library, computer centers, and other labs throughout Dean. When the parents entered each room, there were activities to complete and when they were done, teachers checked off their scavenger hunt lists and gave the parents raffle tickets to bring back to the cafeteria for the end of the night.

John Sheedy, Dean’s Machine Technology instructor, set up a 3-D printer in front of the shop area to demonstrate to parents the works that students have been doing this year. The printer made samples for family members and friends to take home while they looked at other projects students completed earlier in the school year. When parents and friends entered the shop, they were given a live demonstration of students operating manual lathes and mills just as they would in class. Sheedy set up another display in the cafeteria, providing samples of student work, text books, and two displays of previous field trips and summer projects.

The night concluded with cookies and brownies made by the culinary staff, and raffle prizes, mainly Dean Tech polo shirts, were handed out to the parents.

Dean Tech Launches First New Tech School in Massachusetts

William J. Dean Technical High School, a GRAD Academy, has opened the 2014-15 school year as the first fully dedicated career technical high school to operate under the New Tech Network model and the first New Tech Network high school of any kind in Massachusetts.   More than a full year of preparation went into the transformation of Dean, which now uses project-based learning in a high tech context as the foundation of the classroom experience for its 9th and 10th grade students in this first year of implementation.

All GRAD Academy high schools, including Dean, are members of the New Tech Network. GRAD Academies deploy the NTN model with additional supports and programs unique to GRAD, including real-time data assessment, high tech learning innovations, college and career readiness and a focus on developing a variety of value-added community partnerships that substantially enrich student experiences. jpeg (10)

Barry Bacom, Principal of Dean Tech, was an initial co-designer of the GRAD Academy model while he was working as a New Tech Network Director Akins New Technical High School in Austin, Texas. About the New Tech transformation of Dean, Barry shared, “I am excited to take the work I’ve done with New Tech and apply it to a new context at a turnaround school like Dean Tech. I think that New Tech is a great fit for Dean Tech as a technical vocation school as students are learning life skills that all 21st-century students need.”

“We have been impressed by the Dean Technical team throughout the exploration and planning process, said Tim Presiado, Chief Operating Officer of the New Tech Network. “Through their visits to other Network schools, they were able to develop a very thoughtful design for their school that connects the Career and Technical resources at their disposal to an engaging set of course offerings and programs. While CT has always ‘done projects’, the shift has been toward full PBL implementation, using the language and process that they now share with the the core classes. We are excited to support their team in the coming year and deepen our partnership with Project GRAD USA through our work in Holyoke.”

The New Tech model has been gradually introduced to Dean Tech over the past year. 9th and 10th grade students were given two weeks to become familiar with the new structure of their school, and the teachers began their New Tech training last year, attending conferences that prepared them for leading a classroom under the New Tech model. Over the next two years, as the New Tech model is rolled out to all four grades at Dean Tech, all teachers will be fully trained in the New Tech model. “The 9th and 10th graders are really the vanguard of the implementation of this model,” Bacom shared.

“Adopting the New Tech model at Dean opens the door for a powerful integration of the core academic disciplines, the career and technical fields, and the arts — this is a direction that many have begun to talk about, but very few, if any, have really pursued,” said Dr. Marcy Singer-Gabella, Chief Academic Officer of Project GRAD USA. “Because New Tech organizes learning around complex and messy real-world problems, it positions students to become problem solvers and designers for the 21st century.”

Every student in a New Tech classroom has a dedicated computer so that they can learn technical skills and have access to learning and development resources necessary to succeed in the 21st century. Dean’s partnerships with organizations such as Holyoke Community College and the Massachusetts Green High Performing Computer Center (MAGHPCC) have brought sophisticated tech tools needed for students’ success and have helped build bridges between GRAD and the community. These partnerships have enabled the creation of the new CISCO Academy, introduced last year, and other learning labs at Dean, helping to reinvent what Dean Tech looks and feels like and pointing the way toward a bright, innovative future at Dean.

 

Dean Tech Hosts Celtics Clinic and First Graduation as GRAD Academy

William J. Dean Technical High School (DTHS) concluded its first year as a GRAD Academy on some very bright notes. DTHS hosted the inaugural Paper City Basketball Clinic and 3-on-3 Tournament with the support of new partners, the Boston Celtics. The following week, DTHS celebrated the class of 2014 during a beautiful graduation ceremony.

In the spirit of educating and supporting the whole student, Project GRAD orchestrated a partnership with the Boston Celtics and the South Holyoke Safe Neighborhoods Initiative to host a full day of basketball fun. On Wednesday, May 21, coach Ron Adams and his crew of six other Celtics coaches led students of all ages through skills stations honing shooting, defense, ball control, and much more. Then, while the Celtics coaches joined HPS and South Holyoke coaches for a coaching clinic, middle and high school students started the 3-on-3 Tournament. During this “round robin” style tournament, each team of three was able to participate in up to eight games.

Principal Barry Bacom was thrilled with the outcome of the day and the performance of DTHS students, sharing, “Everyone had a great time, and the level of mature, enthusiastic participation by our students was phenomenal.”

The clinic and tournament were truly community events. DTHS students designed flyers to advertise around the city of Holyoke; DTHS staff and faculty ran concessions and worked the registration table; the DTHS chef prepared dinner for all the coaches; Holyoke Public Schools superintendent Dr. Sergio Páez and GRAD CEO Dr. Daryl Ogden both attended the event; and HPS Media Center Director Mike Hines created a video to commemorate the event.

Just one week later on Friday, May 20, 2014, DTHS celebrated its first graduation ceremony as a GRAD Academy. The ceremony took place at the War Memorial Auditorium in downtown Holyoke. The graduation ceremony was the last event there before the War Memorial undergoes a substantial renovation.

The ceremony began with a series of meaningful speeches. Principal Barry Bacom, Superintendent Dr. Sergio Páez, and Mayor Alex Morse all spoke to the graduates and their families, wishing them well as they venture off into their post-secondary lives. Valedictorian John Connon and salutatorian Dylan O’Malley shared parting words with their classmates about the significance of the education they received at DTHS and the potential they have to succeed as they move forward.

“‘If you do something you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.’ This quote was a motivator of mine throughout high school,” Connon told his classmates. “I want the class of 2014 to never give up. If we want to pursue something, and do something that we love, we need to go and grab it and never let it go…Whether you’re an automotive technician, carpenter, machine technologist, cosmetologist, or whatever you are involved with. You all began to build a life, so continue building that life when you leave here, don’t forget the value of the choices that you make, and don’t stop believing.” O’Malley echoed Connon’s sentiment in his own speech, telling his classmates, “With whatever path in life you decide to carryout, I hope that you become the best at what you want to do. As David Frost once said, ‘Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.’”

96 graduates walked the stage in front of proud family and friends. As students were called up by their career tech programs, their career tech instructors stood to shake their hands as they crossed the stage. For the first time, this graduation ceremony included a booklet of senior biographies that detailed each graduate’s high school highlights, teacher and staff appreciations, and future plans. After the ceremony concluded, students and family remained at the War Memorial for pictures and celebration.

“Graduation Day is always my favorite day of the school year,” Principal Bacom shared after the ceremony. “We all get to share in the culmination of many years of hard work for these young adults. We also get to thank the parents and families of the graduates. We know that we all make it through life with the help of those that care for us and it is times like this that we should honor them for their support.”

We congratulate the DTHS graduates of 2014, and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors!

Holyoke’s Dean Tech Launches New & Improved Student Government

Holyoke’s William J. Dean Technical High School (DTHS), a GRAD Academy, is redesigning the way that students learn about government, voice their concerns, and take action for continuous school improvement.

Last December, student elections were held for the first time since the student government was previously disbanded. During the first week of January, a ceremony was held during which Principal Barry Bacom swore in elected officers. DTHS now has three branches of student government. The first branch, the executive branch, is being led by President Joseph Tosado (11th grader) and Vice-president Edeni Colon (10th grader). The second branch, the bi-cameral legislature, is composed of two senators for every grade level and two representatives for each one of the 12 Career and Technical Education Labs.

President Tosado is getting ready to expand his administration by appointing a few other officers to the positions of secretary, treasurer, and attorney general. The president will also be appointing nine officers to the judiciary council, which will compose the third branch of the student government.

The student legislature has also split into four joint congressional committees (Student Activities, School Rules, Academics, and Fundraising) to focus on specific issues of concern. Each committee has selected a chair and secretary. Next, they will be voting on student-raised issues and presenting them to Principal Bacom.

Student Government Officers are also SkillsUSA officers who will be attending conferences this year and getting their Career and Technical Education teams ready for competition next year. This is Dean Tech’s first year as a participant in SkillsUSA, a nationally acclaimed career technical education program that currently serves more than 320,000 students across the country. SkillsUSA works with students, teachers, and industries to offer valuable work, internship, and competition experiences to ensure that our country has a prepared and skilled workforce.

Finally, officers will also have the opportunity to meet with Holyoke Superintendent, Dr. Sergio Paez, and Holyoke Mayor, Alex Morse, to voice their concerns and participate in events to expand their leadership skills and understanding of government, politics, and educational policy.

Assistant Principal Gladys Franco is one of a team of advisors for the new Student Government. “I’m proud of the students that have taken the initiative to get involved and represent the needs of the student body,” Ms. Franco shares. “I’m excited that the students now have a protocol for discussing their ideas, voicing their concerns to the faculty and administration, and enacting positive school-wide changes. I look forward to providing students with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and seeing how they’ll make connections and effect change in the greater community.”

The student officers and team of advisers (Mr. Cavanaugh, Ms. Reilly, Mr. Fullwood and Ms. Franco) are excited about this opportunity and the many possibilities ahead.

GRAD Academy in Holyoke, MA Launches Cisco Academy

William J. Dean Technical High School has been busy this new year. Since reopening last fall, the newest member of the GRAD Academy network has been undergoing nonstop upgrades, renovations, and celebrations.

The most recent of these improvements is the launching of Dean Tech’s Cisco Academy computer lab. Cisco Academy, a global education initiative that teaches students to be computer and tech savvy, came to Dean as part of an articulation agreement with Holyoke Community College (HCC) and the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC). MGHPCC is a data center that supports the research of five research universities in Massachusetts: Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts. MGHPCC is located in Holyoke, and will provide students a wealth of resources – both technological and collegiate. The grant secured by MGHPCC and HCC not only funded Dean Tech’s new Cisco Academy; it will also provide up to $90,000 in scholarships for these students to continue their training at HCC after graduation.

“The Cisco courses truly showcase the exciting new things that are happening at Dean Tech,” says Principal Barry Bacom. “To have an industry-leading program like Cisco and a knowledgeable veteran teacher like Mr. Singh is an investment in the potential of these young men and women that will pay dividends for this community for many years to come. We are very thankful for the support of our community partners for helping make this possible.”

The Cisco Academy Lab will be offered to 11th and 12th grade students in high standing who received letters of recommendation from guidance counselors and administrators. This semester, 10 Dean Tech students from the Electrical and Programming labs and one Holyoke High School student will participate in Cisco Networking courses. Their coursework will not only count towards high school graduation credit requirements; Cisco Networking courses will also count towards certifications that articulate to HCC courses. Becoming “Cisco Certified” – that is, becoming a Cisco Certified Networking Associate – is highly respected in technology-related industries.

On Tuesday, January 28th, Dean Tech partners at the MGHPCC and HCC, along with Superintendent Dr. Sergio Paez, Mayor Alex Morse, and State Representative Aaron Vega celebrated the official Grand Opening of the Dean Tech Cisco Academy.  The school community was also joined by Executive Director of the Regional Employment Board David Cruise, Holyoke’s Director of Planning and Economic Development Marcos Marrero, and GRAD USA’s CEO Daryl Ogden.

To read ABC 40’s local coverage of this story, click here. 

Dean Tech, a GRAD Academy, Celebrates Puerto Rican Heritage Month

On the evening of Tuesday, November 19 in Holyoke, MA, members of the Dean Technical High School community gathered to celebrate the many ways Puerto Rican culture contributes to, strengthens, and brightens the school. The school, which has been a GRAD Academy since August of this year, has a student body that is 90% Latino, the great majority of Puerto Rican descent. The celebration was a huge success. More than 250 people came out to celebrate one of the community’s most significant ethnic cultures, honor some of the most prominent Puerto Rican elders in the community, and enjoy tastes of the music, food, and dance from Puerto Rico.

The event began at 5:00 pm, when all attendees saluted both the American and the Puerto Rican flags. Three members of the Dean Tech staff sang “La Boriquena,” the Puerto Rican National Anthem. The theme of this particular Puerto Rican Heritage celebration was “Honoring Our Elders,” and the member of the Dean Tech community selected to be honored was Mr. Pedro Rivera. Mr. Rivera is a dedicated member of the Dean Tech community and an active member of the Holyoke community, serving a multitude of roles including coordinator of Career Technical Education placement, testing, and SkillsUSA. More importantly, perhaps, he has been essential in helping to create the welcoming, trusting, and demanding culture that Dean Tech has been working towards all year. His rapport with both students and parents is obvious, and all attendees were thrilled with the opportunity to honor his valued contributions to the community.

A series of dance numbers followed Mr. Rivera’s tribute. A folkloric group, El Coquí, commenced the dance selections. El Coquí, which is a small frog native to Puerto Rico, is the name of a children’s folkloric dance program designed to teach Holyoke youth about native Puerto Rican dances while also engaging them in a positive after-school activity. These young dancers opened for a group of Dean Tech students who performed a series of dances: a salsa (a traditionally Cuban dance), a negroide (an African-influenced dance), and a plena (a Puerto Rican folkloric dance). Finally, a Dean Tech staff member and local artisan displayed his art and spoke about the ways in which Puerto Rican culture influences and inspires his work. During the entire showcase, audience members enjoyed an authentic Puerto Rican meal, prepared by Dean Tech’s culinary students. Between each new presentation, the student emcees would provide bits of Puerto Rican history to the audience, making the entire night both entertaining and educational.

Assistant Principal Gladys Franco – who headed the planning committee made up of teachers, parents, and students – was pleased with the event’s turnout. “We felt that it was important to celebrate Puerto Rican heritage because of our student body. So many of our students share this important culture and history; it’s part of their identity.” Engaging the students, she shared, was not the only goal: “We also know it’s important to engage the community in our celebration. It really takes a village, and it’s important that we all work – and celebrate – together.”

In true GRAD fashion, Dean Tech continues to host creative and important events that boast record attendance numbers and allow students to share their work and talent with their community. And people are noticing: this event was featured on local news network ABC40. We look forward to what’s next in line from Dean Tech. Until then, check out this video archive of Dean Tech events compiled by a Dean Tech parent!

GRAD Academy in Holyoke Hosts Black & Gold Night

On October 9th, Dean Technical High School, a GRAD Academy in Holyoke, MA, didn’t host just any ordinary Open House night. “We took your traditional Open house,” explained Principal Barry Bacom, “where parents and students shuffle from class to class and listen to a 15 minute overview from every teacher – we took that idea and threw it away. We wanted an inclusive, dynamic community event.”

And that is exactly what Black and Gold Night turned out to be. Students, parents, alums, community members, and local leadership made a combined effort to meet Superintendent Sergio Paéz’s challenge: 100% participation. By this he didn’t mean that every member of the Dean Tech community would show up to the school’s open house; rather, he meant that every Dean Student would do their best to get the message out in different ways to promote the best attendance possible. Between 300-400 people attended the event, marking a record high for a Dean Tech open house.

As families entered the front doors of the school, they were directed to the cafeteria, which had been cleared of chairs and tables to allow for a trade show setup exhibiting all of Dean Tech’s offerings. Each tech program and each academic department had its own booth that displayed information about their technical or academic expertise, samples of student projects, and promotional materials. During a half hour meet-and-greet over refreshments, families listened as Mayor Alex Morse and Superintendent Paéz shared encouraging words about Dean Tech’s recent transformation. Principal Bacom then took stage, announcing the night’s main event – a scavenger hunt.

Each family was given a copy of its student’s schedule, which listed all the related items to search for during the scavenger hunt. The lists were long – find each of the student’s teachers, the student’s classrooms, the main office, the College and Career Access center, administrators – and for every item successfully found on the list, the family received one ticket for a raffle that would take place at the end of the night. The more scavenger items families found, the better their chances of winning!

While families were zealously searching, Principal Bacom and staff were transforming the trade show room back into a cafeteria. The students in the Culinary lab had prepared a traditional Puerto Rican meal for all of the guests and, for dessert, one of the Culinary instructors baked a gigantic birthday cake to celebrate 100 years of Dean Tech. The raffle was done over dinner, and many families left donning Golden Hawk t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hat prizes.

One of the many highlights of the night was a NASCAR photo-op provided by the Universal Technical Institute (UTI), one of Dean Tech’s post-secondary partners. UTI is one of the nation’s leading providers for students seeking careers as professionals in the automotive world. UTI brought an actual NASCAR racecar to the Dean Tech campus and allowed students and families to learn about the intricacies of a racecar, sit in the driver’s seat, and leave with a fun photo memory.

Black and Gold Night was a huge success. Apart from setting a new attendance record, veteran teachers who have served over 20 years at the school noted its uniqueness. Principal Bacom hopes to continue hosting unique events, making each bigger and better than those of the past. Some previews as to what these events might look like: a Shop Night to showcase each of the technical areas and a Float in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Priority number one as of right now, explains Principal Bacom, is recruitment for next year. We can expect a number of recruiting events within the next few months targeting students from local feeder schools.

Whether these events are for recruiting, showcasing, or celebrating, we look forward to the creative spark that Dean Tech will surely bring to each.

Dean Tech Reopens as a GRAD Academy in Holyoke, MA

Project GRAD has been keeping busy in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, as Dean Technical High School, a GRAD Academy, celebrated its opening day. On August 28th, students walked back onto a campus that they hardly recognized. After construction, a redesigned master schedule, and some revised policies, the reimagined school took most students by surprise. Some students were more than surprised – they were pleasantly shocked to be informed that they were no longer students, they were graduates.

Project GRAD USA CEO Daryl Ogden is pleased with the changes occurring at Dean, sharing, “We’re excited about the redesign and reimagining of Dean Technical High School.  Our goal is to make Dean a distinctive 21st century technical high school in Massachusetts as well as nationally and provide Holyoke students and parents with a truly great high school option.”

The $7.5 million renovation is the most visible change that Dean underwent this summer. Apart from the much-needed tune-ups – a new paint job, new cafeteria furniture – Dean students now have six state of the art science labs (which will ultimately be STEM labs) and three brand new computer labs. These new labs illustrate the New Tech Network influence on GRAD Academies; the labs will give students an improved space in which to learn, and the potential to learn in new and innovative ways.

Two of the computer labs will be for the general usage by all Dean students. The third will be unveiled in January as a Cisco Academy Lab for use exclusively by 11th and 12th grade students. Cisco Academy, a global education initiative that teaches students to be computer and tech savvy, comes to Dean as part of an articulation agreement with Holyoke Community College and the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC). MGHPCC is a data center that supports the research of five research universities in Massachusetts: Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts. MGHPCC is located in Holyoke, and will provide students a wealth of resources – both technological and collegiate.

Across the hall from these computer labs lies the College & Career Access Center that has become a staple in Project GRAD schools across the country. Here students receive help completing the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid), applying for scholarships, writing their college admission essays, and searching for jobs and internships. The resources provided by the Center are essential in promoting a college-going culture at Dean.

The rest of the changes to Dean were less visible, but perhaps even more important to student success. One of the influences GRAD hopes to have on Dean is to shift away from the traditional idea of a “vocational” school, and more towards the idea of a “career and technology” school. This shift in culture begins with a complete remodeling of Dean’s master schedule – including the addition of 74 minutes to each school day.

Previously, Dean students and teachers operated on a “week away” schedule, where students spent an entire week focused solely on their vocational shops, followed by a week focused solely on their academic courses. Project Director Greg Oliver has brought a new model with him from his previous home, Ohio – the AM/PM model. In this new master schedule, 9th and 10th graders spend the morning hours working in their career and technical labs, while 11th and 12th graders spend the morning hours in their academic labs. In the afternoon hours, they switch.

During one of nine daily periods, Career and Technical teachers team-teach with Academic teachers, providing students room to integrate what they are learning in practical ways through real-world situations. Another daily class period is on Occupational Related Theory, which teaches students the theory behind the practice of their chosen Career and Technical lab. This schedule integrates many different aspects of what students are learning, providing a rigorous and multidisciplinary approach that challenges students to make connections in new ways.

Another important change deeply impacted the lives of some students – after a revised graduation and grade promotion policy, eight Dean students were told they did not need to return for one last semester because they were now high school graduates. Principal Bacom explained how policies frequently become outdated, especially in a context as complicated as Dean’s: “Over the course of nine principals in twelve years, policies would change one year, the master schedule would change another year, and ultimately the way credits counted just wouldn’t work and wouldn’t align with state standards. It was actually more difficult to graduate from Dean Tech than it was Holyoke High School because of the old policy.” Under this updated policy, now aligned with state guidelines, eight Dean students have been awarded diplomas and are officially graduates of the class of 2013.

Students aren’t the only ones excited about the changes at Dean. Teachers are enthusiastic about the new design and organization of departments. The twelve Career and Technical labs are divided into four clusters, called Academies. There is the Transportation Academy (Automotive Collusion, Automotive Technology, and Diesel Technology), the Construction Academy (Carpentry, Electrical, and Metal Fabrication), the Personal Services Academy (Culinary, Health Assistance, and Cosmetology), and Manufacturing & Technology (Machine Tools, Web & Programming, and Graphics & Design). Each Academy has a lead teacher who directs the vision of their particular Academy and plans new and innovative courses for students. Academy leaders contribute to the campus leadership team, which also includes department chairs. Teachers are working together, across departments and Academies, in a new way towards a common goal.

Students, faculty, and administrators at Dean are excited to showcase their new home on October 9th at the school’s annual Open House. This year’s open house will exhibit a fair-like atmosphere, with information booths, food, and games. Over the next few years, Dean’s goal is to expand Open House Night to become a community event called Black and Gold Night.