Dr. Laura Herman, Principal at Highland High School, has been selected to serve as the Headmaster of the new Palmdale Aerospace Academy in Palmdale, Calif.
The charter school is slated to open in August 2012 at the old Cactus Middle School site next door to Palmdale High School.
Herman appeared as a featured guest on Aerotech NewsRadio April 26. According to Herman, having an independent charter will allow the school to look at their approach to education “a little differently.”
Traditional schooling has a very predictable structure. Teachers are told that they must progress through a particular portion of the curriculum by a set date. The Palmdale Aerospace Academy will still cover all the same material, but not necessarily in the same way. Teachers from various departments will have the opportunity to coordinate their lesson plans so that the subject matter connects across the board. That means that what a student is learning in history class should have some level of relevance to what is being taught in math.
In addition to creating interconnected courses, the school will also provide project-based learning. According to Herman the new school will utilize the hands-on techniques designed by Project Lead the Way to introduce students to various aspects of science, engineering and technology.
Industry professionals in the community will also be asked to come into the school as guests. This will aid in the school being able to create projects that are more applicable to the particular learning needs of the student body. This will also help prevent students from being “mystified” at that comes after graduation.
Herman shared that the idea behind building this school is that educators should serve the community. The goal is to produce students that graduate with a set of skills that they are ready to use in the work force.
“[It's about] supporting the extraordinary aerospace base that we have in the Antelope Valley,” said Herman, “And what do we need to do as educators to prepare our kids to step into those jobs that support the industry.”
The school will seat 540 students when it opens in August and there are currently more than 900 student applicants. The slots will be filled using a lottery system and those not chosen will be put on a waiting list, in case a spot should open up at a later date. The first year will include grades 7-9 and the consecutive high school grades will be added one at a time for each following year. Eventually, the school’s goal is to offer a K-12 program.
Herman said that when she was introduced to the concept of the academy, it was “impossible to resist.” She also added, “It’s that age old questions that math teachers always have to face ‘why do I have to learn this?’ This school, this place is built around why are we learning this. Everything is about relevance … there is a reason and it’s a tangible one – how could I pass that up?”
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