Norman North High School principal Bryan Young said that freshman entering high school look much different then seniors graduating high school.
“The Freshman Academy would allow us to provide more structure during a transition. It’s a big change from eighth grade to high school,” Young said. “We’re very fortunate in Norman to have support so we can provide these types of opportunities for our kids because it does take a commitment to stay up with other schools.”
Beck said the development of University Centers also should allow for more autonomy and collaboration among students. With the technology initiative in the 2014 bond that will place a device in every students’ hands, students can use those devices to work in groups and solve complex problems, Beck explained.
“This is a forward and innovative district,” Beck said. “The bond goes right to the core of providing solid services for students.”
The University Centers would provide seminar areas, student work areas, conference rooms and more to facilitate teamwork and rigorous learning.
“Teachers love to use the phrase ‘in the real world,’ well in the real world, you don’t sit at a desk all day without your phone or any other distractions. There is distraction and interaction, constant movement,” Beck said. “We hope the University Centers will provide a space where students can learn to engage while adapting.”
University of Oklahoma Dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education Gregg Garn said that research from around the country shows that students are two times more likely to get accepted into college and to graduate if they participate in concurrent enrollment. Although Norman students already participate in concurrent enrollment having facilities like the University Centers would provide for more options and equity among students, Garn said.
He explained that right now students have to drive to OU campus for concurrent enrollment classes, which can be a problem for students without a car, but with the addition of the University Centers, OU and NPS hope to connect further and bring some of the concurrent enrollment classes to NPS campuses.