Academic Pillar:
PHS adds Environmental Sustainability class

Posted January 9, 2017

Plymouth High School has added an Environmental Sustainability engineering class this year, which allows students to investigate and design solutions to real-world challenges.

“The class primarily focuses on ways to more efficiently use water, produce food, and use fuel,” said teacher Jason Jaeckels. “We discuss how these things can be accomplished locally, nationally, and globally.”

Applying their knowledge through hands-on activities and simulations, students research and design potential solutions to true-to-life challenges. Upcoming units include:

  • Viewing the damage that European Corn Borer larvae can do to corn plants, then viewing and discussing how genetic modification has allowed researchers (and farmers) to grow corn able to fight off this pest.
  • Extracting DNA from plants and then testing DNA from food sources to determine if any of the food sources were derived from foods that were genetically modified.

The year-long class for upperclassmen is part of the district’s offerings through Project Lead the Way, a nationally recognized engineering curriculum. The course is one of seven PLTW courses offered in the district, and one of six at the high school. The high school has given it cum laude designation, due to its academic rigor.

The new class also is one of the initiatives called for in the Academic Pillar of Excellence strategic plan. The Board of Education has established four Pillars of Excellence – Academic Excellence, Extra-Curriculars, Community Engagement, and Financial Responsibility –  as key principles that distinguish the district and advance its mission. Each Pillar has a strategic plan that identifies desired Future States and initiatives for the next three years.

The overarching goal of the Academic Pillar is for students to learn to apply knowledge and skills consistent with the ever-evolving 21st century. The related Future States are:

  • All students are prepared to enter post high school education in order to find personal success in a global society.
  • All physical and cultural learning environments in the district are exemplary.
  • District teachers, teacher leaders, staff and administrators are of the highest quality and deeply committed to our common mission for children.

In addition to the new class, 2016-17 strategies include:

  • Assess impacts and outcomes from curriculum and facility improvements and propose revisions - develop and integrate FSAC curricula K-8.
  • Implement Plymouth writing program ELA 11-12 - including published products.
  • Plymouth will extend successful pedagogy in all areas of focus through professional development for all staff.
  • Integrate STEAM curricular pathways across subject areas grades 5-8. Create STEAM curricula links K-4
  • Implement curricula using school gardens and outdoor spaces grades 4K-8 – Expand FSAC outdoor facilities.
  • Propose additional/refine arts offerings.
  • Continually evaluate and improve the physical and cultural learning environments throughout PSD – Continue to implement priority OM projects and safety plan.
  • Publish and market PSD report card.
  • Inspire and grow all staff through professional learning i.e. PDC, workshops, graduate classes and masters degree opportunities.
  • Second UWGB Masters Cohort completes degree process - both cohorts actively impacting pedagogy and programming district wide.
  • Attract teachers, staff, and administrators leveraging PSD framework, culture, benefits and potential for growth and inspiration. Begin development of Teacher Education Development Center.

Learn more:
Visit the Pillars of Excellence page to learn more about all four Pillars of Excellence.