At Philip Barbour High School, 53 incoming freshmen, 10 teachers and two administrators entered uncharted territory this school year - the New Tech Network environment.
The New Tech Network is a nationwide program designed to develop innovative teaching and learning techniques in high schools. The goal is to enable students to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow, according to information from the program's website.
The hands-on, multi-year approach gives schools structure and support to ensure long-term success. Founded in Napa, Calif., in 1996, New Tech is made up of more than 115 schools in 18 states.
New Tech students and teachers take part in the first week of classes.
Philip Barbour's NewTech "school-within-a-school" model is funded through a West Virginia Department of Education Innovation Zone grant, and is housed in the Career and Technical Education Center.
Ten Philip Barbour teachers and one technology specialist volunteered to be trained and to teach using New Tech's problem-based/project-based learning model and ECHO, the specialized computer application platform utilized by teachers, students and parents in the New Tech environment.
After spending a week in Grand Rapids, Mich., for New Tech Network New Schools Training and additional work time over the summer at PB, the teachers organized and hosted a PB New Tech Orientation cookout. It took place July 31 at PBHS, and more than 100 parents and students participated.
The cookout included a welcome from New Tech Director Rebecca Nesbitt and Barbour County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Super. Following the meal, parents were given an overview of the New Tech program and an introduction to the Echo computer application.
Students and parents were introduced to their New Tech teachers, other PB teachers and administrators. They also enjoyed team-building games and a scavenger hunt competition to familiarize themselves with the people and places involved in the New Tech program.