HomeNS SentinelN/S Sentinel NewsSouth Brunswick High School's first Career Academy will offer extended learning in...

South Brunswick High School’s first Career Academy will offer extended learning in computer science

The South Brunswick School District will offer a Career Academy for students at South Brunswick High School (SBHS), beginning with a computer science program during the 2022-23 school year.

The Career Academy experience will provide an academic foundation in a selected field of study. Students will have the chance to explore classes in their field during the first two years of their journey and then select an academy to create a more focused experience for the remainder of their time at the high school.

Students will have the opportunity to apply to specialized internships, attend small group college tours, visit with former South Brunswick alumni in their chosen field and have a member of the school staff advise them on a capstone project.

Students will become part of a community of learners who travel through their classes as a cohort. The expectation is to accommodate all who wish to join, said Jennifer Diszler, assistant superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Administration for the South Brunswick School District.

“Based on our numbers of students in the past who have taken high level comp science classes, we think there will be about 50 to 60 students in the academy, but we will know more after class registration in the coming months,” she said.

The idea of a career academy came out of a strategic plan set five years ago.

“This came from the interest of the students, staff and community. The way we are running the program, there is not too much cost to it as we are not looking to build new facilities or overhaul courses. Our approach is to create a cohort structure where there will be a community of learning,” Diszler said.

“Comp Sci has always had high interest for our students and we happen to offer many courses in this area. This gave us the ability to craft a template for the career academy design so we can add more each year,” she said.

According to the Journey Map, during a student’s freshman and sophomore years, they will discover career-related interests through introductory courses and gain exposure to potential pathways to explore through the academy. They will apply for the Career Academy through an interview with faculty.

In their junior year, students will engage in coursework that takes fundamentals learned through the explore phase and translates to real-world applications.

Students will have the opportunity to participate in an internship in the summer following their junior year.

During senior year, students will complete a capstone project in which they will develop new and novel solutions to real-world problems by using the knowledge learned through career-connected courses.

“Students in the Career Academy get the following, which is unlike the traditional path:
“Community-oriented: Career Academy students will engage in activities to support a strong and cohesive community within and outside of SBHS;
“Capstone experience: Career Academy students will complete a capstone project to demonstrate mastery of content and application to real-world contexts;
“Cohort model: Career Academy students will be grouped into smaller cohorts that will participate in the same courses to further develop strong relationships between students and staff;
“Connection to opportunities: Students in the Career Academy will have access to additional support from staff, industry partnerships, internships, class trips, guest speakers and volunteer opportunities,” Diszler said.

Students may also participate in dual-enrollment opportunities to earn college credit.

“The Computer Science Department at SBHS is a wonderful place to study. As you review the academy offerings in the course booklet, you will notice there are certain key elements in our program that allow us to provide our students with one of the best experiences in the state.

“Community, teamwork, leadership, ethics and relationships are some of the themes you will see emphasized as part of our program. If you decide to take any of our classes, I’m sure you will be impressed by the students, staff, curriculum and overall vision of our department.  

“Our course offerings start with basic computing ideas and progress to cover the modern areas of computer science. Lessons are always student-centered with a focus on projects and collaboration rather than lectures.

“All of our students will be prepared to major in computer science, but that certainly isn’t necessary. A firm understanding of technology and computing will help any SBHS graduate as they move forward with their future plans,” Steven Schiff, chair of the Computer Science Department, wrote in the academy overview.

Pre-requisites include Computer Science in the 21st Century and Advanced Placement Computer Science. Course offerings include virtual reality and game design, mobile application development, data structures and the capstone experience.

The academy provides access to a variety of possible careers, including software engineer, security analyst, IT specialist, network administrator, web developer, data scientist, app developer, network manager and database administrator.

Sophomores who are interested in applying, parents who would like to join the parent council, or former students/business members who would like to participate should email Schiff at steven.schiff@sbschools.org

“Our goal is to add more career academies that all embody those same benefits described, no matter the topic,” Diszler said.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.

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