Sooner Rotarians were “schooled” today about positive changes in Norman’s High Schools. Principals Dr. Scott Beck and Dr.Peter Liesenfeld shared what Norman schools are doing to maximize the education experience for Norman students and the community at large.
The pair said it is not just about test scores. Under the direction of Dr. Siano, the they looked at a variety of factors including how kids feel when they come to school.  They look at trust factors and they look at school process and community outreach. These and other non-tangible skills determine how students will flourish beyond school. They are teaching delayed gratification, tenacity, perseverance and grit. These are the skills students need when they go to college or join the workforce.
Dr. Beck explained how when more space was needed, school leaders seized the opportunity to do more than just add classroom space.  Two of the most publicized areas have been Freshman Academies and College and Career Centers which should be complete by next year’s term.
Dr. Beck said that Norman’s high schools are unique.  They share a remarkable unity and yet each school can still maintain a unique identity. Each school designed their new spaces to fit the needs and personality of their school. At Norman High, they took what was formerly the library and made it into a space called the Learning Commons, which provided more of a collaborative space than before. This is a world class facility where students and teachers can come from all over campus and engage in collaborative work.
Dr. Liesenfeld said Norman North’s College and Career Center offers a new media wing as well as lot of area for independent learning and growth, much like what students may experience after high school. He said the intent is not just to focus on those going to college, but also the business world.  He added that both high schools are working on a mentorship program to connect students to specific individuals in the community.
The Freshman Academies extend the middle school philosophy and feel into the first year of high school.  He said the purpose of the academy is to insulate 9th graders while still exposing them to all the offerings of high school. Dr. Liesenfeld said Norman’s high schools have a lot of offerings not often available in other communities.
Dr. Beck said the one-size-fits all instructional and supportive approach just doesn’t work. Their goal is tailor the instructional needs to each individual student. That is what they each love about their district and what is being done in Norman schools.