The Academies of Big Sky: A Transformational Model
Our journey to create the Academies of Big Sky started almost 10 years ago. The Health Science Academy started
in 2011 and the success of the HSA left us with the desire to create the same opportunities for all our students--smaller learning communities, project-based learning, industry certifications, EdVentures, job shadow experiences and teacher cohorts.
Academies are a transformational model for schools, helping to bridge the gap between school and post-secondary experiences, whether that's a four-year university, a community college, the military, or industry certifications.
We based our transformation on the following concepts:
- Bringing real-world experiences into the classroom for all students by aligning curriculum, job shadows, field trips, and college and career exploration with student interest.
- Creating smaller learning communities in areas of student interest through teacher collaboration, relationship building, project-based learning, cross-curricular collaboration, and individualized student support.
- Engaging business and community partners to provide site visits, job shadows, internships and quality career experiences for all students.
Every student who enters the Academies of Big Sky will have a choice of four different academies. Whether a student is interested in engineering or culinary arts, each academy offers plenty of flexibility, creativity, rigor, and real-world experiences to enhance all aspects of high school while preparing them for post-secondary opportunities.
In addition, all students will benefit from community and business partnerships, ensuring that students will gain experiences and exposures outside of the four walls of the classroom. The Academies have teamed up with local colleges and universities to offer a wide range of dual credit, dual enrollment, and industry certifications that will better prepare students to be college or career ready.
Our academy model is designed with smaller learning communities that meet students’ social and academic needs in a more personalized learning environment. Our goals include:
- Student collaboration with a cohort of teachers, counselors and administrators who have all students’ interests at the forefront;
- College and career exposure that allows for experiences that will engage students’ interest in school and education, generate ideas for post-secondary education and careers; and
- Preparation for life with the skills to be successful in the post-high school world, giving students a voice in their educational experience.
The Academies of Big Sky will focus our goal to provide a wide variety of real world experiences beyond the classroom walls that provide students with the skills that are often not emphasized in traditional classroom settings but are increasingly necessary in our world.
Our Academy model will help students explore careers in healthcare, education, business, media, culinary, engineering, architecture, agriculture and more. Here are just a few of the things you can expect and be a part of as a member of one of our academies: Cohorted Classes: You may be in academy sections of core classes (science, social studies, English and Career & Technical Education) that will give you a chance to explore these topics through related resources, assignments, and activities.
Electives: We offer many electives to include music, art, world languages and our International Baccalaureate program.
Ed-Ventures: Opportunities to visit Universities all across the state, outdoor ed-ventures, local community partners in manufacturing, healthcare, tourism and more.
Certifications: Students are offered certifications in many areas, to include: Certified Nurses Assistant, OSHA, First Aid/CPR, Revit, AutoCad, Dental Assisting and ServSafe.
Job Shadows: All academy students will complete at least 3 job shadows during junior and senior year in ANY area of their choosing.
Opportunities Beyond the Classroom: Experiential Learning Model
Experiential learning is an important aspect of our academies. Each year, students will receive unique opportunities with their cohorted groups for hands-on learning experiences outside of the traditional classroom setting.
Experiential learning is
- learning by doing,
- learning through action,
- learning through experience,
- learning through discovery & exploration.
At the 9th grade level, students will visit college campuses and meet with industry professionals as they begin to think about life after high school. Students will learn about 2-year & 4-year colleges and universities, as well as certification programs and on-the-job training opportunities.
Industry Field Trips
10th grade students attend industry field trips with local business partners to confirm or reevaluate academy choices through real-world experiences. Sophomores also continue to explore college and academic certification programs as they progress through their academies.
Job shadows inspire students to formulate future goals and offer students an opportunity to explore a career and its associated post-secondary education pathway. In addition, job shadows also help develop workplace readiness. Students will complete three job shadows--two during junior year, and one during senior year.
12th grade students participate in hands-on experiences in which they can see the importance of their studies first-hand and form valuable connections with industry professionals through capstone classes, internships and quality career experiences.