Students bored by regular English classes will have two new options next year: Literature and Journalism in Athletics and English for Work.
Other curriculum changes recently approved by the Payson Unified School District board include transitioning the Business Management and Administrative Services program into Entertainment, Hospitality and Sports Marketing.
Two new dual enrollment programs in conjunction with Gila Community College include drafting and Web Development.
The changes mark Payson schools’ continuing effort to develop classes to match student interests and needs, officials said.
“It is our responsibility to reach all students by doing whatever it takes,” said Director of Curriculum Kathy Kay. The courses meet state standards, she added.
The sports-oriented class features a Sports Congress at its end where students write bills and then attempt to persuade the class to pass them. Successful bills will go into a Literature and Journalism Hall of Fame.
Students will also analyze newspaper sports coverage, writing their own articles and editorials.
English for Work targets students who will likely not attend college. Students will ponder career options and listen to guest speakers explain what they look for in employees.
They’ll learn how to create budgets and make dinner menus from supermarket advertisements.
While English for Work fills two semesters, students who opt to take the sports literature class for one semester would take traditional English for the other semester.
Kay said the classes give students who have failed English class the chance to try again with different curriculum. “If they failed a course one time, making them sit through it again may not be the best way to get them to pass,” she said.
Board member Barbara Underwood agreed and said the new classes allow seniors to retake classes without having to sit with juniors in a junior English class, for instance.
The business management program’s change in focus to marketing appeals to a broader base of students, Kay said.
Teacher Joe Parone has built a successful DECA club for marketing students in just one year, she added, and interest for the four-year marketing program is already mounting.
Kay noted in a memo that, “We feel it would be a good fit in our community that derives 60 percent of its revenue from hospitality, travel and tourism.”
The new drafting program will now close to freshman and sophomores, but allow enrolled juniors and seniors the chance to earn college credit in a more rigorous program.
Some board members said they didn’t like eliminating the opportunity for younger students, but the change passed unanimously.
Member Matt Van Camp said the erosion of available vocational programs for younger students concerned him. “It concerns me, but it sounds like a good program,” he said about the new one.
Students who complete the two-year track of courses can receive a certificate of proficiency, as well as the opportunity to earn an associate degree. The certificate is good education for an entry level job that will give students an “edge” over the competition, officials said.
Students enrolled in the program will also need to take a college-level English class at some point during the two years, which worried some board members.
“This is not a brand-new concept,” Kay said. Other dual enrollment programs like fire science and nursing have the same requirement.
She said that the district recently lost the freshman and sophomore drafting teacher anyway.
The new Web Development program marks the expansion of the highly popular computer networking and hardware building class taught by Bud Evans.
Freshmen and sophomores can still take classes, but then begin in the dual enrollment program with GCC in their junior years. After two years, students can receive certification.
“I expect to see the enrollment for the IT program explode,” Kay said.
Underwood said she liked the model of having kids try classes during their freshman and sophomore years to test interest before taking courses for certification.
“This is the good plan,” she said.