Kristen Foster said she’s not out to make wholesale changes now that she’s principal of Brookfield High School.
“I think we’re on the right path at the high school,” she said, noting the Class of 2019 had a 100-percent graduation rate and she wants to do that again in 2020.
The state, though, wants the high school to do a better job making those graduates ready for college or a career path, and Foster said she will emphasize that this year.
“I think it’s essential that we prepare students for the workforce and for a competitive job market,” said Foster, who was promoted from assistant principal of the high school and middle school. “It’s essential for our students, obviously, for success, but also it’s an important
part of our (state) report card.”
“For a long time, I think, kids either thought they’d go right into the workforce or they were gonna go to college, there was nothing in between,” Foster said. “There’s so many other things. There’s trade schools and apprenticeships and internships.”
To meet that end, Foster said classes will offer more project-based learning opportunities to develop critical thinking skills, and the school will: continue using a career counselor from Mahoning County Educational Services Center to help students develop a path to a career; look for ways to integrate science, technology, engineering and math into the curriculum; and implement an entrepreneurship class.
“We want to help them develop an entrepreneurial mindset, which is gonna look like innovative thinking, problem solving, team building, and I think that’s gonna go along with financial literacy,” she said, referring to another required class.
Students also can expect to see more college and business representatives at the school to give them a better idea of post-high school options and expectations.
The school will promote the College Credit Plus program in which Brookfield students attend college classes, and is setting up an area in the library where students can attend college courses online through Youngstown State University, Eastern Gateway Community College and Kent State University.
“We really want students to know they can stay here rather than leaving the campus,” Foster said. “The students will be able to go in there (library) and work on their courses together as well as just have a quiet place where they can go and study that feels more like a university.”
Warrior Online Academy, which originated as a credit-recovery mechanism to help students make up work they need to graduate, will be expanded to allow students to take online courses that they are interested in.
There also will be a big emphasis on helping freshmen transition to the increased expectations that come with entering high school. Freshman Bridge Day will return Aug. 19, where freshmen will meet with teachers, administrators, a guidance counselor, the school nurse, senior mentors and Brookfield Police Cpl. Ron Mann to talk about expectations, policies, scheduling, extracurricular activities, responsible social media usage, cyber safety and the subjects they will be studying.
A new class also is being created, Freshmen in Transition, to show freshmen that more happens than just moving to another part of the school building. The class will offer high school survival skills and cover time management, testing, the importance of attending school, community involvement and other issues.
“Really you’re moving to a whole new mindset and culture, and they weren’t ready for that,” Foster said. “It’s just gonna cover everything they need to know about the high school in general and how to be a successful student while still maintaining a work-life balance.”
The community involvement she talked about could include the school community. The senior student mentors who will participate in Freshman Bridge Day will be expected to have ongoing contact with the freshmen throughout the year, but also to act as a sounding board for Foster.
“I really want their insight, so I’d like to meet with them once a month and tell them some ideas that I have and maybe hear some ideas that they have,” she said. “I think if our mentors and I agree on things and they buy into them, they can help the other students to understand. They bring in great insight, things we don’t see.”
Foster said she also wants to revive a Big Brother Big Sister program that fell by the wayside last year.
“The middle school kids ask every day, ‘When are we doing (it)?’” she said. “They love it. They do arts and crafts and every two weeks sit down with their Big Brother Big Sister and talk. So many of our kids need that.”