For the week of May 19, 1999  thru May 25, 1999  

Quarles takes helm of "school within a school"

National Academy Foundation program


"It’s designed to be a school within a school," said newly-appointed director Roger Quarles about the Blaine County Academy of Arts and Sciences.

"We’re trying to prepare more students for their life after high school, rather than just the select few who go to college," he said.

Early in May, Blaine County School District career education coordinator and "School to Work" director Quarles, 37, accepted a promotion within the district.

He was put in charge of developing and implementing the new Blaine County Academy of Arts and Sciences. Quarles will oversee staff development, publicity and student retention.

Driven by private industry and falling under the umbrella of the New York City-based National Academy Foundation, the Academy is an effort to prepare public high school students for jobs and careers.

Quarles said, "Public education has to make substantial changes in the way we do business, and the academies are a good step forward."

Addressing the need, the Blaine County School District has teamed with 18 other school districts in the Gem State, and the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, to form the Advanced Regional Technical Education Coalition (ARTEC).

Quarles said, "ARTEC was put together by professionals in the private scctor to provide more rigorous standards in certain areas."

The coalition successfully completed a $4.8 million grant through the Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

Quarles said Blaine County was one of the major recipients of funding—and will be the first Idaho school district to implement an academy that is affiliated with NAF.

NAF is a non-profit organization established in 1989 that designs, encourages and supports academic programs—called Academies—that are focused in specific professional fields. The Academies are two-to-four year programs open to students who apply for admission.

"The Academies will be open to all students," Quarles said. "We expect to host students from other school districts as well as our own."

Specifically, the first Academies implemented in Blaine County during the 1999-2000 school year will be the Academy of Finance, and the Academy of Information Technology.

They will be two-period electives during the school day, for all three trimesters at Wood River High School in Hailey. Wood River technology teacher Dennis Murphy will be involved in the instruction, Quarles said.

Blaine County plans to host a total six Academies over a three-year period. Others are: Academy of Travel and Tourism; Residential Construction Technologies; Health and Medical Science Technology; and Automotive.

"The students will come out of the programs with some industry-recognized certification or license," Quarles said. About 35 students will be accepted for the first year.

Future plans call for the Academies to acquire what Quarles calls distance learning labs using real-time interactive digital television.

"Our goal is to have one distance learning lab here at Wood River High School, one in Carey and one at Silver Creek Alternative School," he said.

Among the goals of the National Academy Foundation are:

To improve the educational and career preparation of young adults; to act as a vehicle for the exchange of research on labor, business and education trends and programs; and to promote a model as a proven vehicle for school reform.

Internships, workplace experience, exposure to current technology and mentoring programs are big parts of the Academies.

For more information about NAF and its programs, call 212-420-8400 or visit its website at www.naf-education.org.

 

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