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District 206 begins recruiting efforts for learning academies

A group of local business people recently gathered to hear about Alexandria School District 206's plans for learning academies set to begin in the fall of 2014. District leaders hope to partner with local business people to develop curriculum for the learning academies and offer on-site learning opportunities for students. Doug Houska of Bremer Bank is one of the community representatives who spoke to the group. (Photo by Amy Chaffins)

Alexandria School District 206 recently launched efforts to partner with community leaders on the new learning academies concept.

During a meeting August 6 with 14 people representing the area's business, communication and entrepreneurship sectors, learning academies were explained and people at the meeting were asked to consider joining advisory teams to help develop a curriculum with teachers and host student learning opportunities at their place of business.

According to the district, "Through externship experiences, teachers can connect curriculum to a real-world application. Students can explore future college and career opportunities through internships and mentorships, connecting them in meaningful ways with adults who want them to succeed."

Learning academies are set for implementation at Alexandria Area High School in the fall of 2014.

There will be four learning academies for students to choose from:

• Freshman Academy

• Engineering, Manufacturing Technologies and Natural Resources Academy

• Health Sciences and Human Services Academy

• Business, Communication and Entrepreneurship Academy

Julie Critz, the school district's director of learning and teaching, explained, "An academy is a smaller group of students and teachers working collectively to take skills learned in the classroom and figure out where and how those lessons apply to life, particularly a career."

Core classes in math, English, social studies and science will be combined with classes that focus on the academy's career theme. Global elective classes, like music, foreign language and art, will be available to students across all academies.


An advisory committee will be established for each academy.

On Tuesday, business leaders were invited to join the Business, Communication and Entrepreneurship Academy.

The advisory committees will include a principal, counselor, core teachers, elective teachers, four to five business partners and a partnership coordinator. Those committees will be responsible for determining project-based learning opportunities, developing curriculum, planning internships and planning externships.

The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission has joined forces with District 206 to recruit and coordinate the school district-community partnerships for the learning academies.

Over the next year, community partnerships will continue to be developed, along with curriculum and informational meetings with parents and the community.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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