There are many elements to bring growth and sustainability of a nation. It begins with Education as the main root of every stem of development. We had a good chance to see how education sector is progressed here in Middleton city and how educators express their perspectives in this sector. In a systematic approach, formal education is in implementation, ranking from elementary school, middle school, and high school. Along with this, non-formal education is also running for those students who need an alternative.
We visited Sauk Trail Elementary School. Students are taught in a very authentic reading and writing workshops. Besides their basic learning, they learn about physical education, music, technology…etc. There is a dual language education for those whose first language is Spanish. Their curriculum is well designed by the researchers to ensure students’ understanding in both English and mother tongue language. We continued to observe more in Kromrey Middle School. Here there are more movable stuff and flexible space. More interestingly, STEM is implemented from the elementary school to high school, and there is another Project Lead The Way (PLTW), which is implemented from Middle school to high school. Thus, it seems like the big transition occurs here in Middle school that students start to be more matured and decisive on what they want to study. There are also transitional trainings for students from 4 – 5 K and those from 8 – 9 K. Next is Middleton high school where we visited before our lunch. Students here are taught not only to learn and practice, but also to understand, analyze, and be able to explain the other mates about the reasons how things are going. Students get the career path guidance; and of course, students’ development in PLTW and STEM is still progressive here. Most curriculum are designed by faculty members, teachers, coaches, and trainers. Students must be educated in the way they can be ready for college and the future career. Anyway, reading and writing workshop still exists, and students are also equipped with E-learning for the student-centered purpose.
Next, we went to view a non-formal education at Clark Street community school. The duration of learning here is four years. We could differentiate this school from the traditional-system school by its curriculum, instruction and learning process, testing and evaluation, which are dynamically customized to each student based on her preference and talent. Some students are more comfortable to learn in this school simply because they feel their problems are well solved, and they can dig out more about causes and effects as well as problems and solutions in their academic and social life. They are taking more challenges to take a deep taste of what they are researching. These students are well equipped through seminars, extra learning and outreaching to their community, connection in business and technical areas, involvement in business opportunity, independent projects and researches in their interests, basic skills of writing and reading, networks with other relevant stakeholders, self-reliance and management in life, and most-preferable tailored courses and skills. Their performance is evaluated based on the portfolio of achievements which includes the qualitative assessment. Students could view the real practical world; thus, they dare to take more risks to improve what they are believing and doing while their certificate is also equivalent to that of the traditional high school.
Moreover, there is a Special Education for students with disability at Middleton High School. These students are given a special treatment and care for them to learn and improve their life quality. Teachers in charge of this special education are paid in a high rate to ensure their best motivation in teaching and taking care of those students. Some students are able to reach higher education while some students look for jobs through a support of the school. Moreover, it is such a good chance for us to meet a lady who is working as an employment coordinator for an agency supporting the disable students to find job during their study at high schools and after graduating. This agency is called Advanced Employment, a not-for-profit organization working on vocational training and rehabilitation, providing job coaching, coordinating, and facilitating disable people to obtain and retain their jobs. Hence, we could see that disable people’s interests are truly considered by the school and community, and they have equal chance to work and be paid. This also shows how human resources are developed in all phases, regardless of the disability.
As a big picture, students are taught to think critically and develop creatively through a fair intellectual and emotional development. The most important thing is about to improve the quality of students’ life and achievements with healthy school environment, curriculum, teaching methodology, and evaluation.