SBDM plans to change HSU, career pathways


Due to the power outage, teachers had no access to the internet, projectors or lights. Photo by Jack Bell.

Reece Gunther

Manual is looking to change the High School University (HSU) magnet to make the program more unique when compared to other college preparatory programs at other schools across the district.

A district audit under former Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Donna Hargens specifically compared Manual’s HSU program to Western High School’s college preparatory curriculum, prompting Manual to look for ways to make the programs distinctly different.

The proposed change is a three-pronged plan which includes introducing a foundational course, a “cumulating project” at the end of senior year and the option to complete either three AP courses or complete one of the career pathways.

Most of these changes will not affect current HSU students, however, the option to choose between three AP courses or the completion of one of the career pathways will be implemented as soon as possible.

HSU foundations course

One of the proposed changes includes a required class for freshmen known as “HSU Foundations” or something similar which would teach study habits, life skills, financial literacy, quantitative literacy, written and public speaking, global diversity, economics and appreciation for the arts.

The foundational course would also serve as an introduction to Manual and the Youth Performing Arts School’s (YPAS) many elective courses that are offered to better give students an idea of the things they might be interested in.

Students in the class would rotate every six weeks to different topics and areas of study around Manual and YPAS with several different teachers.

In addition to the foundations course, HSU students would have advisors to help them best plan their four years at Manual and to help them select the four classes that would make up their HSU pathway.

The foundational course also allows students more opportunities to make friends and find their identity within the magnet, an issue that is unique to HSU since every other magnet has magnet-specific classes that students share with each other.

Many liberal arts colleges also have similar foundational courses and mentors for college freshmen which gave Manual administrators the idea to implement a similar program within HSU.

HSU pathway changes

The first proposed pathway change introduces a clearer engineering program into Manual’s pathway options. The pathway would require students to take Engineering One, Engineering Two, Mechanical Engineering and a capstone class or co-op with the United Parcel Services.

The new classes that would be formed to create this pathway would be divided up between the science and math department teachers who are certified to teach the specific classes, however, Manual has at least one teacher who is currently certified in engineering, allowing the classes to be introduced as soon as next year.

Another pathway change is in the Family and Consumer Science (FACS) department with the introduction of a Hospitality, Travel and Tourism pathway. The department would incorporate some of their existing classes in the pathway as well as introducing a new Principles of Hospitality course.

At Manual’s School-Based Decision Making (SBDM) meeting on Wednesday, discussion occurred regarding the ability of the FACS department to maintain the courses they currently offer. The department will need to evaluate which classes have the lowest interest and suspend those to introduce the new pathway.

Currently, the fashion pathway is the least successful pathway in the FACS department and it is also the most expensive one to keep functioning according to Ms. Laura Spiegelhalter.

Manual is also looking to introduce co-ops as incentives for students to complete four years in a specific pathway. Ideally, students would complete three courses (one per year) in a specific pathway and then participate in a co-op during their senior year.

Manual’s FACS department and guidance office have already met with officials from Louisville’s hospitality and tourism industry to discuss potential opportunities for students. Many of the available co-ops in the hospitality and tourism pathway would be food service or hotel customer service.

HSU AP course requirement change

Some students are not at the level where they can successfully pass three AP classes according to Manual’s guidance office. Because of this, Manual is providing students with the opportunity to either complete three AP courses to show college readiness or complete a career pathway to demonstrate career readiness.

This change will be made immediately and is the only proposed change that could impact current HSU students.

HSU senior project

When presenting to Manual’s School-Based Decision Making Council on Wednesday, Ms. Marti Johnston made it clear that the HSU project would “not be anything major” and would most likely revolve around something that students already completed in one of their classes.

The project would also incorporate technology and the digital backpacks.

Manual’s administration and guidance office consulted with HSU advisory teachers to draft the proposed changes and later consulted all HSU teachers, tweaking the proposals slightly based on suggestions from the staff.

The proposed changes could be implemented with incoming freshmen as soon as the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.