OHS caters to student needs with changes to school-day schedule, new events

Caroline Crews, Staff Writer

OHS principal Bradley Roberson has been instrumental in his first year implementing new programs and events to better facilitate students' needs.
OHS principal Bradley Roberson has been instrumental in his first year implementing new programs and events to better facilitate students’ needs.

Oxford High School has a new motto – OHS Cares – and along with it comes three foundational principles: loving, teaching and inspiring.

This new mantra has already been and will continue to be implemented into the school in several different ways.

The loving component of OHS Cares has been implemented through LYP and Character Education.

LYP, which stands for “Love Your People,” is the “theme” of OHS for the 2015-2016 school year.

“LYP creates a culture in which all students are comfortable and are respected,” OHS Principal Bradley Roberson said, “which affords them the opportunity to focus on what they need to focus on in school, and that is their education.”

Character Education, which was applied in the school during the first semester, strives to teach students about morals and values.

“All of the knowledge in the world will not do an individual any good if they do not have the character to go along with it,” Roberson said.

The teaching component includes the new flex schedule, the educational practices in John Hattie’s book Visible Learning, and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).

Debuting this month, the flex schedule is a 27-minute study hall/tutoring period that occurs every day except for Wednesday after second period.  (Wednesday is the designated day during the week when the sole focus during the day is on learning; classes are 48 minutes long as compared to 45 minutes of class time on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and there are to be no interruptions during instructional time on Wednesdays: no announcements over the intercom, assemblies, activities or field trips.)  

The first day for the flex schedule was Jan. 19.

“I think this will be useful for those people who really need that extra help in a course,” senior Sierra Polk said.

According to John Hattie’s research in Visible Learning, there are certain educational practices that have the highest influence on student achievement.  Roberson will highlight one of these practices each week in the OHS staff’s “Weekly Charger” e-newsletter to inform teachers of the different ways they can help students achieve their goals.

Professional Learning Communities allow teachers to collaborate on creating lesson plans, etc., by giving teachers in each academic department the same planning period.

“It’s a process in which, collectively, we should come up with the best practices in order to educate kids,” Roberson said. “There’s a saying in education that isolation is the enemy of growth.”

The inspiring component will be implemented in several different ways: a college fair during the school day, a job fair for students and parents, a job shadowing day for freshmen, an academic signing day for seniors who have received academic scholarships.

The college fair occurred during the first semester in October during the school day.  

“I wanted to do a college fair during the day and make sure that everyone has access to it because typically a college fair is done at nighttime, so a lot of the kids that ride buses can’t make it,” assistant principal Paul Ross said.

During the second semester there will be a job fair for students and for parents.

“This spring we’re going to have a job fair for students,” Ross said. “I also wanted to have a job fair for parents who are either unemployed or underemployed.  We’re going to have a day sometime this spring where we have a job fair for parents to seek out employment around Oxford.”

The job shadowing day will occur on March 8 and will be for ninth graders.

“Job shadowing gives students the opportunity to gauge their interests in certain professions.  Some students may not understand what a profession entails until they go and visit and see the everyday work of a professional, and, at the same time, it may be something that sparks interest in another profession,” Roberson said.

Finally, there will be a college academic signing day on April 28, which will be similar to athletic signing days, for seniors who have received academic scholarships.

“We’re going to let the people who are signing scholarships get on a little podium and take pictures and sign paperwork and have their parents there,” Ross said, “and we’re going to recognize them for their achievements and hard work they’ve put in over the past 12 years in school to give them the recognition that they so richly deserve.”

Added Roberson, “Academic signing day rewards those who have worked hard throughout high school and shows that their education is important. Hopefully, it instills motivation in underclassmen as well.”