TPS Offering Interest-Based Education

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SPECIALTY EDUCATION: Chris Johnson, Nathan Hale High School Principal and Janice Bayouth, Director of Magnet Schools for Tulsa Public Schools meet at the Hale High School of Restaurant, Lodging and Health Management, which caters to all aspects of management and operations in the hospitality industry. It is one of four interest-based programs now offered by Tulsa Public Schools.


Tulsa Public Schools is offering innovation along with education in this age of specialization.

Students in the district and in other districts are being given choices.

And they are responding.

With the aid of $12 million in federal funding that arrived last year, TPS has been transforming four high schools, Central, Hale, McLain and Webster into enhanced learning environments.

“Enrollment is going very well,” Janice Bayouth, director of the four magnet schools, said during spring break.

The four-school alignment with the diverse training fields is the first in Oklahoma.

Magnet schools have been in place in Tulsa for several years.

Washington High School is an academics-based magnet school. Edison and Memorial high schools offer limited magnet programs.

The four schools in Bayouth’s charge are interest based.

“If you have the interest, you’re getting in,” she likes to say.

Applications are available throughout the school year for students with an interest in areas that range from fine arts to journalism to science and technology.

Construction of classrooms at each of the four high schools is continuing as students take advantage of the multiple “strands” of study, each similar to a college major.

Unused classroom space is being converted to accommodate the new learning centers.

At Webster, the vacated basketball field house has been transformed into a broadcast center.

Webster offers direction in all aspects of communication, from the digital television industry to print journalism.

At Central Academy of Fine Arts, students can specialize in visual art, arts production and management, theater and dance interpretation and vocal/instrumental music. A recording studio and a black-box theater are scheduled for completion by the next school year.

Hale High School of Restaurant, Lodging and Health Management caters to all aspects of management and operations in the hospitality industry.

A restaurant that is being stocked and finished at this time will be open to the public in the fall. Bayouth says students “are cooking away in a state-of-the-art kitchen” this semester, in preparation of the restaurant’s debut.

A wellness center at Hale “looks like Bally’s,” Bayouth said. “It’s unbelievable.”

The curriculum at McLain High School for Science and Technology has been designed for students who excel in science and mathematics. Students can prepare for careers in aerospace, aviation maintenance, meteorology, among other areas.
These are “career-path” schools, Bayouth said.

“If kids are more interested in what they want to do, then they’re going to show up,” she said. “And, they’re going to participate if it’s something that they enjoy doing.

“You still get the core subjects – math, science, history, English – but at the same time, we have changed the curriculum to integrate the theme of each school.”

A team of curriculum consultants in tandem with TPS resource specialists help faculty members at each school write curriculum activities.

“The curriculum has the theme running through all subjects,” Bayouth said. “All the subjects have to intertwine into the other subjects.

“For instance, in Social Studies at Webster, students can learn the history of communications, say, beginning with the feather pens.
“In science at Webster, you might learn how science can relate to journalism. Say, the development of ink.

“The kids can actually see how the field they want to go into relates to math, how it relates to history, how it relates to science,” she said.

“When all the teachers are teaching something at the same time, the kids see how it all relates.”

Students will continue along the expected paths toward graduation, meeting all requirements in the core subjects. The “strands” of study at each school, broadcast and journalism to the hospitality industry, are elective studies. Students must maintain a certain grade level in the core subjects to continue in their elective fields.

Next school year, Bayouth said, juniors and seniors enrolled in the magnet fields will be eligible to take part in community internship programs.

The four magnet schools are open to students throughout the Tulsa Public Schools district and other districts. Transportation is provided by TPS.

Students at the magnet schools can begin gaining college credits in addition to the knowledge about their prospective careers while still in high school.

It’s innovation in education.

For more information, call (918) 746-6800.

Updated 03-25-2009

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