Ghidotti High: a laboratory for learning
February 13, 2014
A school that nurtures, a staff that motivates, and a student body that is anything but ordinary. This is what every aspiring high school student should have access to, and it is exactly what Ghidotti Early College High School provides for each and every one of its students.
The world of education is changing, and Ghidotti aims to be on the forefront of that change. With an emphasis on self-directed learning and in-depth understanding, Ghidotti's unique combination of new Common Core concepts and incredible teachers pushes students to be their best.
"Students who are intellectually curious, like to be involved in things, and are enthusiastic, wanting to be a part of something, makes a good Ghidotti student, in my opinion," stated Ghidotti English teacher Janet Mason when asked what sets Ghidotti students apart.
Because many classes are taken through Sierra College, any high school classes such as English, history or geometry can go into greater detail.
"Ghidotti students need a challenge and then take it to the next level, and as their teacher I am always trying to meet their challenge of staying at that level, going deeper into questions and thinking in ways that I would not have thought of," says Ghidotti world history teacher Kristanne Heaton. One of her more recent challenges to the students was a World War I simulation, turning students into political leaders and letting them create their own version of history.
Science and math classes at Ghidotti are evolving, becoming less dependent on multiple choice tests and more on a student's ability to close read and reasonably argue their answer. A flipped classroom approach is being taken, where reading and study, replacement for lecture, are done at home, and the class periods focus on the application of the knowledge. This allows for more in-depth understanding of the material.
English classes have begun to focus more on close readings of classic texts and analyzing the material, then discussing the relevance in terms of both the world today and the student's personal lives. Multi-media presentations are being utilized more frequently, improving students' abilities in collaboration and the use of technology.
Nonfiction reading is becoming a common curriculum choice, not only in English but in science as well. The freshman biology class is currently reading Richard Preston's true-life thriller "The Hot Zone." Through a variety of activities science teacher Tom Kirwan says he is attempting to "extend experience past just what the book is about, and for students to create their own understanding." This not only encourages individual interpretations but is an effective method of creating more class involvement.
Behind all the changes are not only the teachers but the students as well. Due to its somewhat small size and active student body, a large amount of Ghidotti's decisions are made by students. "Unlike other high schools where the adults create the school, at Ghidotti the students have a huge say in their school and what they want it to be," says Janet Mason.
More often than not, any changes made, in a class or school-wide, are most likely backed by any number of active students.
The gears of change have started turning in education. And while for a system to change may take many years, it is an opportunity for Ghidotti to go above and beyond what is to be expected of a high school, and to create the greatest learning and evolutionary environment for a student.
What Ghidotti has in the way of educational brilliance, a student body motivated by curiosity and enthusiasm, and staff members willing to go the extra mile, makes it rise above. What it makes is extraordinary.
Aidan Ginn is a junior at Ghidotti Early College High School. He lives in Grass Valley.
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