Three schools showcase student-centered learning
Posted on 02/21/2020
Two students work a math problem on a window

With an intense focus on student achievement, Frank Brogan, assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the U.S. Department of Education, toured three OCPS Title 1 schools to celebrate their successes.


Brogan is touring schools that have made changes to their pedagogy to see what is working and how the changes are impacting students’ learning outcomes.


He began the day at Maynard Evans High School. Touring regular, honors, International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement classrooms, Brogan saw Trojans actively engaged across all academic levels. In regular and honors English classes, he saw students working in small groups to provide evidence to support their thesis. In an IB Mathematics course, students worked cooperatively to solve a real-life problem using the graphs of trigonometric functions, and in Advanced Placement Environmental, students used their digital devices to listen to noise pollution and determine decibel levels.


“We were pleased to have our distinguished guests experience the Trojan culture of high expectations to ensure every student has a promising and successful future,” Rolando Bailey, Evans HS principal, said. “We were able to showcase the rigor in our classrooms as well as hear from our parents and students in the roundtable about the passion and dedication they feel from the teachers and staff on campus; validating that what we are doing in those classrooms is proving successful.”


Brogan, who began his education career as a fifth-grade teacher, felt right at home at the two elementary schools: OCPS Academic Center for Excellence and Rosemont Elementary. He remembered his first year with fondness and remarked how vastly education has changed, sharing how before his first day of teaching his mentor told him to teach to the middle 30% and he would be okay. Now Brogan cringes at that thought.


Today’s educators focus on diversifying course material to teach each child at the appropriate level. As students master the standards they work on enrichment exercises, while other students work on remediation skills. Each level is rigorous in its own way.


Wendy Ivory, OCPS ACE’s principal, not only showcased the academic classrooms, but also the community partnerships that provide wrap-around services for the students and families. From the Boys and Girls Club to Orange Blossom Pediatrics to the Rosen preschool program for 2 and 3-year-old children, and the additional partnerships with the Children’s Home Society of Florida, the University of Central Florida and Valencia College, she showed how they work together to assist the whole child to increase student achievement.


At Rosemont, Principal Tracey Gibson provided class tours that highlighted differentiated learning by utilizing whole group and small group instruction. Whether it was a science lab or choral classroom, each student was on-task and engaged with the lesson.


Brogan left the schools feeling excited about the student-centered learning he witnessed across all grade levels, but also knowing that at each location the students said their favorite thing about their school was the “teachers and staff because they truly care for us.”