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BCSC: Community input key to new academic model

Submitted press release

(BATESVILLE, Ind.) -- After a year of preparation, the Batesville Community School

Corporation (BCSC) has launched the initial phase of its new community-connected academic

model and will be seeking additional input from citizens as the model expands throughout the

school system.


Freshmen were introduced to the Freshman Community approach when they arrived at

Batesville High School (BHS) in August. Using the structure championed by Ford Next

Generation Learning (NGL), the Freshman Community is just the beginning of a new approach

at BCSC that will impact three strands of transformation: teaching and learning; culture,

systems, and structures of schools; and partnerships between schools and community.


“The Freshmen Community approach uses a dedicated team of teachers and administrators to oversee meaningful activities and career-focused experiences for those students during that first year,” explained Kyle Laker, BCSC Community Coach. “We will pass along practical skills to students in a small-group environment while also introducing them to the various high

school paths they can take."


During the freshman year, students will be using their student resource time (SRT) to be

immersed in freshman onboarding. Through a dedicated cohort, they will practice relevant

21st-century skills, such as developing effective communication and presentation skills, as well

as mastering data spreadsheets. In addition, they will have experiential learning opportunities,

like attending a career fair, going on a college visit, and exploring local businesses. In the past, some of these activities have been reserved for upperclassmen.


“We will be transforming the culture, systems, and structure of our schools, thanks to our work

with the Ford NGL process,” said Andy Allen, BHS principal. “Besides introducing us to the

concept of the Freshman Community, their dedicated coaches have been guiding us in

developing a snapshot of what every Batesville Bulldog should aspire to be. We call this being

Bulldog Ready.”


BCSC’s mission for this transformational initiative states: “Together with our community, BCSC

is committed to providing an engaging and relevant learning environment based on a strong

foundation of academic knowledge, transferable skills, and real-world experiences. Batesville

Bulldogs embody confidence, empathy, and resiliency to ensure 21st century success.” Using

input collected during several community envisioning meetings earlier this year, the BCSC

team has further developed this summary into a detailed “Portrait of a Graduate” (POG), which

expounds on the attributes desired of every BHS graduate.


“We expect our graduates to establish a foundation of academic knowledge and lifelong

learning, gain valuable skills that will serve them well in the future, find their passion and next

steps after graduation, and be prepared to become desirable applicants,” Laker said.

As the 2023-24 school unfolds, several additional resources will also help inform BCSC’s path

forward: site visits to other schools that have employed the Ford NGL process and meetings

with additional community members so that both short- and long-term master plans can be

created. The POG document will serve as the focus for this series of master planning meetings

to develop academic communities within BHS beyond the freshman year. Using this model,

students with similar academic interests will experience classes with their career interests

always in the background.


“A large part of this process—both now and as we roll out our new Bulldog Ready

framework—is community involvement,” Laker emphasized. “It is the key component and what

makes this different,” Laker said. “The master plan will rely on community members and

designated tactic teams to develop ways that the community can be more connected to how

we teach,” Allen said. “Students need to see through the lens of those who are doing the work that appeals to them, either through bringing the outside world into the class to lead a project or by taking students outside the school so they can be immersed where the work actually happens.”


Laker stressed that, while the current focus of this initiative is on the high school experience,

the community-based model will eventually encompass the entire school system from

kindergarten through grade 12. Processes will be developed so that, as they advance, BCSC

students will be more engaged each year in the values expressed in the POG.


“Bulldog Ready is a K-12 learning continuum and will be appropriate and targeted for each

grade level,” added BCSC superintendent Paul Ketcham, who has been extensively involved

in the process. “Our journey together is just beginning. We are working to expand the four walls of each school to encompass all of the 47006 zip code, bringing much of the community’s resources into our classrooms.”


Anyone interested in participating or interested in learning more about the process should

reach out to Laker at 812-934-4384 or klaker@batesville.k12.in.us.


A new website detailing Batesville’s plan to transform their school corporation’s educational

structure has been created and you can view it by clicking here.

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