Students will continue to have access to enrichment opportunities

LEBANON, TENN. — Wilson County Schools is committed to providing the best learning experiences for students to prepare them for the workplace or college upon graduation. Over time, it is necessary to make changes to programs or coursework to meet those goals.

Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, the SEEK program in Wilson County Schools will be undergoing changes in order to expand services to students.

“Tennessee school districts are free to create programs and provide advanced instruction for intellectually gifted and high-ability students,” said Director of Schools, Dr. Donna Wright. “A variety of programs are offered throughout the state, including pullout programs, special classes in the lower grades, honors classes, Advanced Placement and Pre-Advanced Placement classes, and even academic magnet schools.”

“Wilson County has served students in grades three through eight through its Students Exploring and Expanding Knowledge or SEEK program,” according to Yvonne Smith, the elementary instructional supervisor for Wilson County Schools.

“For the 2016-17 school year, the SEEK program is being restructured to serve students not only in grades three through five, but also second grade,” Smith said. “By adding second grade, we will be expanding our current services in our elementary schools.”

Middle Schools will also receive a restructure, according to Angela Rohen, supervisor of instruction for grades six through eight. “The SEEK curriculum will shift towards RTI (Response to Instruction and Intervention) enrichment, exploratory classes, and Pre-AP extension activities,” Rohen said.

Deputy Director of Academics Monty Wilson explained that RTI2 is a state mandated initiative.

“According to the Tennessee Department of Education, its purpose is to empower educators to give every student the opportunity to meet high expectations and the support to reach them,” Wilson said. “Middle school students who have qualified for SEEK will continue to have the opportunity for SEEK experiences through the RTI2 block at our middle schools.

“The district realizes that this restructuring will be new for our students, but we believe parents and students will see the same opportunities for students to ‘think outside the box’ through the RTI2 block,” he continued.

In addition to offering expanded opportunities through the RTI2 block, middle schools in Wilson County will continue to offer Pre-AP English and Pre-AP math courses. This will include offering algebra and geometry for high school credit. Schools also have the opportunity to offer physical science for high school credit, according to Rohen.

“We are shifting away from the traditional SEEK model at the middle school level by offering enrichment for students during RTI2 and in Pre-AP classes, which offers a broader educational experience for more students,” Wright said.

Currently, students enrolled in SEEK during eighth grade also have the opportunity to take a trip to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. When asked if this opportunity will still exist, the district responded that this trip will also be restructured.

“Moving forward, our middle schools will have the opportunity to offer a field trip which would be open to all students, if they meet certain criteria,” Wright noted. “Currently, the eighth grade trip is available to only those in SEEK, which prohibits many students from participating.

“Our goal is that schools offer a trip that students can qualify for through a variety of components as determined by the school, including factors such as academic success and attendance.”

“Any time a change in format to a program is announced, students and teachers will have concerns, especially with a program as highly valued as SEEK,” Wilson said. “Wilson County will continue to offer a differentiated approach in middle schools.

“With the expansion of the program to second grade, we will broaden current services for our elementary students while continuing to offer enrichment opportunities for students in our middle schools.”

Wright added that parents of students currently enrolled in the SEEK program will receive letters this week detailing the changes.