New Portrait of a Graduate program launched by OSD

New Portrait of a Graduate program launched by OSD

Javier Centellas, staff writer

The Portrait of a Graduate program has recently been implemented throughout the Oxford School District. The Portrait of a Graduate’s goal is to ensure that when students cross the stage at graduation, they haven’t just met academic requirements to graduate, but have also met several character requirements necessary for life.

The program is spearheaded by Title IX coordinator Chris Cutcliffe. In grades nine through twelve, the Portrait of a Graduate curriculum is being taught during an additional thirty minute time block called advisory. 

“The plan right now is to meet once a month in your advisory class, and you would stay with the same advisory teacher throughout highschool,” Cutcliffe said. 

Another purpose of the advisory class period is to strengthen relationships between the student and teacher as well as allowing students to meet teachers that wouldn’t occur on a daily basis.  

“It’s somebody, it’s an adult, it’s a teacher in the building who you’ll be with all four years of high school, so you’ll be able to maintain a long-term relationship with the teacher in the building, which will be a really positive thing,” Cutcliffe said. 

Students will also be responsible for submitting evidence that they are accomplishing portrait of a graduate skills within the advisory period.

“It is going to be a place where we facilitate the submission of evidence for Portrait of a Graduate skills,” Cutcliffe said. “It’s also going to be a place where we facilitate a lot of submissions of evidence for our redefining ready metrics which is something that you guys will learn more about as we go through this school year.”

The Oxford School District first adopted the Portrait of a Graduate program in April of 2018. A team of 45 leaders, from schools, businesses, and the general community, collaborated on this new curriculum. The program was put on hold mid-2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet despite adversity is coming back with full force for the 2022-2023 school year.

“Portrait of a Graduate is a vision of what our community has deemed what they would like to see in a Oxford High School graduate,” Cutcliffe said. “And so there was a team of community members several years ago that met and came up with the skills that they would like an Oxford graduate to have. And so Portrait of a Graduate is eight skills, again, kind of given to the school by the community. And so we’re charged with ensuring students are develop ing these eight skills.” 

The school district hopes that the Portrait of a Graduate skills learned in the classroom will translate into students’ other school activities. 

“As we continue to grow in this, you’ll see these skills will pop up into your regular academic courses and extracurriculars you’re a part of. There’ll be lots of opportunities to push students to demonstrate that they’ve mastered these skills,” Cutcliffe said. “Portrait of a Graduate, I think, is the thing that will connect all aspects of our district. All grade levels, academic settings, extracurriculars, so many different things can be tied together with a Portrait of a Graduate.”

Students will encounter the new program at all grade levels. Beginning in January 2023, students fourth grade and up will utilize a program called Transio, which will track student progress in Portrait of a Graduate skills, which will then form a portfolio for students to look back upon at any time. 

“The district is making a strong push to help all of our students be college, career and life ready,” Cutcliffe stated. “We’d like everybody to be all three of those things when they leave here. That’s the purpose that advisory serves.”

The goal of the Portrait of a Graduate is not to add to students’ burdens, but rather to simply record what students are already accomplishing.

“It could be things like submitting evidence of having completed college applications, or having completed college visits, or maintaining a job successfully, or so many different things that we will be tracking on all of our students to help ensure everybody is college, career, and life ready when they leave,” Cutcliffe said.

Cutcliffe believes that the program has had a great start, and has served as a good introduction to the program. 

“I’ve gotten some good feedback from students and teachers I’ve talked to. The first class was serving as an introduction to reintroducing everybody to Portrait of a Graduate, so I thought last week was a great introduction to Portrait of a Graduate as a whole,” Cutcliffe said. 

The first advisory meeting occurred on August 31, 2022. Smiley and other teachers saw this meeting as a good starting point. 

“I hope that a more in-depth explanation of the purpose of the Portrait of a Graduate will better help students understand the reasoning behind the design of the course,” Smiley said.