The Miami Trace Local Schools’ “State of the District” event on Monday featured presentations from the three school principals: Ryan Davis, Jason Binegar and Rob Enochs.
Following an introduction from Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis, Davis took to the podium at the high school to discuss the various programs that have been brought to Miami Trace Elementary School (MTES) to enrich the lives of the students. Davis explained these programs and opportunities are all efforts to work with the community to address student needs and provide them with “the experiences that will lead to a brighter future.”
“We have many opportunities for students with our programs,” Davis said. “One of the most recognized is the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program we hold with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office instructed by school resource officer, deputy Monte Coe, and this provides 10 weeks of instruction with our fifth grade students. Another drug education related program is the ‘Too Good For Drugs’ program with the Fayette County Prevention Coalition that promotes life skills, character values, skills to resist negative peer influence and more. We also start out each morning with ‘Mindful Music’ that features music from the Columbus Symphony, CAPA and the Columbus Opera. The Columbus Children’s Theatre is another favorite at the school and they have come down multiple times to share a show with the students.”
The opportunities for students don’t end there though as MTES also partners with the Good Hope Lions Club to bring the GOOD Program to the school. This program was established by Lions Club member Ron Derry, who was a former teacher and coach when he was afflicted with blindness. The concept of the program is to recognize young people who are not necessarily the straight-A students or top athletes. Also new to MTES is the Lunch Buddies program in partnership with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Ohio, and it partners elementary students with high school students for lunch, a bit of time for fun and a chance to have a quality role model.
“We also have Biztown for the kids to participate in,” Davis said. “This program helps teach basic economic concepts in a town to students. We partner with 18 Columbus businesses and the students get to learn all about the business world. They learn about insurance buying, how to write checks and more. We also partner with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Fayette County Soil and Water to make sure we give the kids plenty of real life experience in the environment learning about wildlife and more.”
Finally, as Davis flipped to a slide with many photographs, he explained that the school is working everyday to keep track of the health of students. They address mental illness and health issues and — being at the height of the flu season — nurse Amanda Brown at MTES sees about 140 students a day.
Next to speak was Miami Trace Middle School (MTMS) Principal Jason Binegar, who talked about the addition of unified arts offerings. From health and agriculture education in the eighth grade to world cultures in the seventh grade, MTMS is attempting to open up class options for students when they get to the high school by expanding its curriculum and laying the groundwork for some of those classes now.
“We have been also working hard on the addition of intervention and enrichment for the students and have implemented targeted strategies for growth and other opportunities,” Binegar explained. “We have also implemented a Career Basic Intervention Program (CBIP) for some eighth grade students. This program helps to instill strong work habits in students and helps them make some money.”
Another important issue at MTMS is the social and emotional health of students. This has led to a number of useful programs, including “Signs of Suicide” to find students who may not be themselves and could use some emotional or social help, “Say Something,” which encourages students to talk with a trusted adult about potential issues or threats that could arise, and the introduction of periodic guest speakers talking about emotional or social issues. Additionally, the school has a dedicated counseling source and has implemented focused character education with the “PANTHERS (Perseverance, Accomplishment, Nobility, Trustworthiness, Humility, Empathy, Responsibility, Service) Circle.”
“All students and staff have been involved and working on the PANTHERS Circle and we meet once a week on Thursday,” Binegar said. “The students do different activities and/or lessons to strengthen these traits and students earn Panther tokens for representing their house. We have various competitions, and reward students who represent PANTHERS the best. Finally, we have a number of opportunities for student involvement in various clubs or activities. We have 30 kids on our student council, 90 participating in the musical, and the bands and choirs also attract a lot of students. We also have the annual art show which has a lot of student involvement, and we have plenty of students who take field trips with these groups to Washington D.C., caverns, colleges and more.”
The last principal to speak was Enochs with Miami Trace High School (MTHS). He began by reflecting on the approach of the one-year anniversary when students moved to the new high school on the Miami Trace Local Schools campus. He said it is surreal to finally be in the building and that students and staff have been hard at work utilizing the school.
Enochs then spoke about the extra-curricular activities at the high school. According to Enochs, 393 students participate in 13 clubs and organizations, including the Key Club, FFA and more. He explained that several of the students attend multiple meetings or are involved in many clubs. Additionally, the school offers 12 girls sports and 11 boys sports that see about 492 participants throughout the year. The school also offers band and choir, which have performances throughout the year and about 220 participants between them.
“We also continue to facilitate blended learning in the school,” Enochs said. “This type of learning combines online courses and teachings with the more traditional method of teaching. We try to choose the most interactive forms of learning and use the extra learning area spaces within the school for group collaboration or even for students who need the ability to look and work through material on their own. Years ago, before we even started conceiving the new building, we worked on our first school educational vision. This is what we wanted to be able to do for the students as we progressed. We decided one of the most important for us was to prepare the students for the real world. Not only just to go to college, but also prepare them for careers.”
As they wish to prepare students for the future, MTHS has expanded its class offerings to bring the curriculum more into the 21st century with a focus on careers that are relevant today. One of the most recent additions is the advanced placement (AP) music theory course, but the school also has students in video broadcasting and production, graphic design and more. Enochs explained they want to prepare students entering the workforce with skills and additional avenues to explore their interests. With this in mind, the school has expanded its College Credit Plus courses for a total of 13 courses in seven subjects. Currently, English, communications, political science, sign language, physics, chemistry and psychology are among the subjects, and last year 115 students earned 1,445 college credit hours with the program. Additionally, the school offers other AP courses including English 11 and 12, physics, government, calculus and chemistry.
“We are truly blessed when it comes to the class offerings and the work that goes into the students,” Enochs said. “There are many great educators and administrators who work tirelessly in this district for the kids and we are glad to continue to offer students college and career prep to ensure they are ready for life after Miami Trace.”
Stay with the Record-Herald this week for part three of the Miami Trace State of the District event with coverage of the other departments in the district, including technology, transportation, financial and more.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.