At the D219 Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14, a wide variety of topics were presented and discussed. Among these was the decision to approve five new courses that students will be able to take in the 2018-2019 school year. They include Statistics and Probability, CNC Programming and Machining Technology, Entrepreneurship & Business Strategies, Social Justice and Equity, and Women and Gender Studies in Literature. The complete course descriptions can be viewed beginning on page 196 of the board meeting packet, which can be found here.
Of the five courses, three will be added as either general or honors-weight electives. The two English courses, Women and Gender Studies in Literature and Social Justice and Equity, will be able to fill the senior English requirement, providing students with an alternative to the current courses offered that meet the requirement.
Currently, students can meet the senior English requirement by taking either one semester of regular or honors College Prep and an English elective, or by taking AP English Literature and Composition, a two-semester course. The newly approved English courses would be a one-semester alternative to College Prep.
Although West offers a diverse array of English elective courses, from Bible and Mythology to Literature of Sports & American Culture, there are not nearly as many courses that are able to fill the senior English requirement. English teacher Jody Weatherington believes that adding these two courses will benefit students by providing them with the ability to learn about topics that may be more relevant and interesting to them while still learning the necessary writing and research skills.
“Choice is important. When students are invested in the area of study, they are often more successful,” Weatherington said of the Women and Gender Studies in Literature course. “We will, of course, be reading, writing, researching, and discussing like any other literature course, but the focus will be on gender.”
Senior Simone Perrin, co-president of West’s Feminism Club, is one of many students excited that these courses have been developed. Even though she won’t be able to take the course, she believes it’s a great addition to West’s course offerings.
“Taking these classes will allow students interested in learning about women, gender, and equity, to engage more with these topics and indulge in conversations that are not discussed in other classes. These topics are heavily discussed in the media, around our school, work, etc., so I think it is very beneficial that these classes will be available to take next year,” she explained. “It is too bad these courses were not available this year because I definitely would have signed up.”
Several teachers, staff members, and even some students were involved in the development of the course, including English teachers Michele Hettinger, Dena Lichterman, and Weatherington; social studies teacher Daniel Kosiba, D219 Director of Equity La Wanna Wells, Niles West Director of Humanities Sanlida Cheng, and several others.
According to Cheng, it took a long time to go from working to get the courses fully developed to finally having them approved earlier this month.
“Regarding process, it actually took about 3 years for this course to go from an idea to a reality, starting with a team of teachers and students who expressed interest, then moving to work over the summer to develop the course proposal, to extensive discussion and vetting within both the Humanities departments at North and West, and then presenting the proposal to other stakeholders like CSSI, district administration, and the board.”
Course scheduling is not determined until spring, so as of yet, it is unclear how many sections of the course will be available and exactly who will be teaching the courses. As Weatherington attests to, scheduling is always a “jigsaw puzzle,” but more information will become available as planning for the 2018-2019 year progresses.