Barr-Reeve unveils big curriculum change

Nov. 21—MONTGOMERY — The Barr-Reeve schools will be making some changes in the curriculum moving forward. School officials have unveiled a change in the curriculum that will reach from kindergarten through graduation and will include much more integration of business, work and technical skills.

"We have had a high-achieving district here from an academic standpoint and that was related to how we have been evaluated all of these years and that was through the state test," said Barr-Reeve Superintendent Dr. Travis Madison. "Now, the state is making changes in how they evaluate schools and it comes down to five different areas and we want to meet those. We also want to look at this from K-12 and have the kids embrace the skills they need for a career path and it engages with them it makes school more relevant."

Madison says the curriculum is being built not just on academics but also on the needs of the business community.

"We want to respond to the changing economy and the work force needs," said Madison. "We want to work with area employers and help build a framework for what they need locally, regionally and nationally to make sure we are preparing our kids."

The school system is working on helping students for post-graduation, but that does not necessarily mean a traditional college. It could be a two-year program, apprenticeship and certificate that is needed for work.

"Education is the equalizer," said Madison. "We want to provide a bridge to a life without financial struggle. We want to break cycles of poverty. We know lifetime earnings are highly affected by the educational attainment level."

One thing the school is hoping to achieve it to help students deal with the changing landscape of technology and finance.

"We will be working with our kids on communication and collaboration and what their work ethic is like," said Madison. "We will also work on civic, financial and digital literacy, trying to produce well rounded students who understand civics and financial literacy and how to maneuver through the world as an adult."

The school system has formed some committees to help build some of the programs and changes that should start showing up in the spring.

"We will be meeting with our teachers and working on plans, and then after the first of the year meet with our business people and bring them in," said Madison.

A series of meetings were held a Barr-Reeve this week to give parents and the public a look at the changes. Madison says it appears to have had a positive reception so far.

"We hope they will provide us with some ideas," said Madison. "All of our parents have jobs and they are the pros. We hope they will be willing to come in and talk with a class or maybe work with our media class, or let kids job shadow them."

The school system is also looking at adding some programs that will include more agriculture. There will also be operations called Viking Enterprises where the school will have its own small businesses.

"It's an all-encompassing proposition that will be a big difference-maker to our kids," said Madison. "We think it will help them get engaged with school and what it next and at the same time get that academic piece as well. And then hopefully, by the time they are in high school they will be able to get involved in more than their normal course-work that will build those skills and be a big difference-maker as they move into the workforce."