07/30/07 — First engineering class preparing to start studies at Goldsboro

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First engineering class preparing to start studies at Goldsboro

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 30, 2007 1:45 PM

Wayne County Public Schools' newest high school is changing the way schools do business, says its principal.

Wayne School of Engineering, housed within Goldsboro High School, officially opens Aug. 8. But for four days last week, orientation was held for the more than 70 incoming freshmen who will comprise its first class.

Gary Hales, principal, called the four-day event a "get to know you session" for students and staff.

"Since we're bringing in kids from all over the county, the relationship piece is very much a part of what we're trying to do," he said.

Applications were taken earlier in the spring for students interested in the novel program, focusing intensely on science, technology, engineering and math. In addition to Hales, the school has six staff members, including a full-time guidance counselor and teachers in all the core subject areas.

A young staff is in place, with good reason.

"We're changing the way of teaching and needed people who were able to adjust," Hales said. "Because everybody went to a traditional school for the most part, now we're changing that."

The school will hang its hat on project-based learning, he added, with hands-on instruction that brings relevance to the classroom.

"Too many times students have told me that they're bored sitting at a desk all day, taking notes, and we want them to experience the learning firsthand," he said. "We're able to offer them that."

The educators will not teach in isolation, but will work together, have planning periods at the same time, Hales said.

Academically, a writing course at the ninth-grade level will be incorporated, along with two science classes and integrated math.

The recent orientation gave students a taste of what the upcoming school year will offer.

Ashley Busdieker will be teaching math. A first-year teacher who recently graduated from Meredith College, she also is from Wayne County. She admitted to being nervous but excited about the unique school situation.

"It's something different and it's not a traditional setting, which is something my (college) advisor had talked to me about, and I didn't even know about this school at the time," she said.

The chance to work with students in advance -- and for them to become acquainted with one another -- was beneficial, she said.

"I noticed when they first came in, they sat with kids they knew. We have done our best to move them around to get to know others," she said. "They worked really well together. Their thinking, they're definitely in the mindset for it. They came very open to interacting with other kids."

Jesse Adams comes from Norwayne Middle. He said he applied because he thought the school would be more challenging and less crowded.

"I can get to know people," he said. "I feel like I could actually do something here instead of going to a normal high school -- go to college, get a doctorate ... It would be cool to be a game designer."

Jalen Lewis, transferring from Brogden Middle, was a self-proclaimed "math nerd" in middle school and anticipates he will like the new environment.

"I have enjoyed the activities, the projects," he said. "I chose this school because it was a more hands on approach than the traditional school and thought it would be more challenging going into engineering."

The mix of students from other parts of the county was another advantage.

"It's been a nice experience. I got a better look of what I would be looking at in my years here," he said.

One thing he especially looks forward to is the possibility to getting to take college classes in his junior and senior years. Tyler Fitzpatrick, from Rosewood Middle School, agreed.

"I think it will be very helpful in the long run," said Tyler, an aspiring nuclear engineer.

Jada Eason, also a Rosewood Middle transfer, said the smaller classes and opportunities appealed to her as well as her parents. She struggled in school last year after one of her teachers was in an accident and was out half the year while substitutes filled in.

"I feel like I can start over here and get a good education like I'm supposed to," she said.

Jada said she was fairly confident in math but science is her best subject. She is exploring either becoming a lawyer or a forensic scientist as career choices.

Meeting her future classmates was helpful, as was the chance to sample the new school.

"I'm looking forward because I feel like this high school doesn't stick to just one type of learning, not just out of a book. You can learn more than one way," she said.

"I just really like this school. I plan on going all the way through my senior year."