The Focus Program was originally collaboration among the school districts within the Douglas and Sarpy County Learning Community. Although the other districts have chosen to leave the program, the program has continued due to the fantastic support of parents, the Learning Community Board, the students, teachers, and the community. The students in this program are not only exposed to the general high school curriculum, but also have the opportunity to learn and grow in the Focus extra-value standards. The students prefer to call it, “leadership through communication and technology.”
Focus students start elementary in 3rd grade at Wilson Focus School. From there, they attend the Focus Program at Lewis & Clark Middle School.
The “focus” of the Focus Program at Burke High School has been a cross-curricular model in which we are able to integrate the extra-value standards (leadership, communication, technology) into the English, U.S. History, and FACTS (freshman academic career and technical seminar) courses. As freshmen, the 40 students in the program take these core classes in one day, all in a row, with the same two Focus Program teachers, Mr. Randall Howard and Mrs. Cassie Benzel. (Contact info found below). Because of this unique class schedule, the students gain a deeper understanding of both the core concepts and standards of their classes, but also have the ability to expand their skills in the extra-value standards.
Specifically, the technology application of the program has utilized a partnership with Apple to integrate the latest technological advances into education. Students are the first in the district to use one-to-one iPad3 devices in a school to home setting. In addition, access to MacBook Air laptops enable teachers to use a whole new level of instructional strategies in the classroom.