Auburn Career Center: A Model for Interdisciplinary & Team Teaching

Article excerpt

As Ohio's first career center, Auburn Career Center in Concord Township, Ohio, has been at the forefront of new and exciting educational initiatives. Auburn embraces emerging technologies and unique teaching tools to better educate its high school and adult education students. The school prides itself on its quality instructors, who come from a wide variety of educational and employment backgrounds to put their students on the road toward excellence in their future and academic career paths.

Strategic Plan

In 2001, Auburn implemented its Strategic Plan, which was developed by the Auburn board, administration, faculty, staff, students and community. Within its Strategic Plan, Auburn created a new Mission and several goals for itself, its students, faculty and staff, and the community.

Auburn's Mission is to guarantee that all students empower themselves, excel in the emerging workplace and enrich their community. The school also established its Core Values, which are:

* People are personally responsible for their choices and actions.

* Treating people with dignity and respect will enhance learning.

* Attitude and goals drive achievement.

* All people can learn.

* All people can make positive contributions.

* Change is exciting and essential for growth.

According to Principal Mary Ann Bittner, "Empowering our students naturally led to the empowerment of our teachers, as we focused our efforts on providing top-notch instruction and ensuring that learning was taking place."

High Schools That Work

To accomplish this mission and goal, Auburn implemented the High Schools That Work (HSTW) program, which focuses on school improvement.

"The High Schools That Work program has a proven track record that helps student performance," Bittner says. "Everything that High Schools That Work stands for is also what the Auburn community decided was important in its strategic planning sessions."

Auburn chose to implement four of the 10 key practices, including "Staff working together-having an organization, structure, and schedule, giving academic and vocational teachers the time to plan and deliver integrated instruction aimed at teaching high-level academic and technical content."

"We chose 'staff working together' because we understand its value," says Bittner. "By combining all of the staff's strengths, we are able to spark creative ideas and improve student learning. Now, faculty and staff working together is not something we consciously think about doing. It is simply a part of the Auburn culture."

The Academy Concept

To enhance the culture of teachers and students working together, Auburn has embraced the academy concept, in which course programs are linked and students collaborate with their peers and other course program instructors. This cross-curricular training and learning has enabled students to complete unique projects that reflect real-world team-building skills.

For example, students in Auburn's Business & Information Technology Academy train in the following programs of study: Cisco (CCNA) Computer Networking, Computer Information Systems, E-Business, Interactive Media Technology and Oracle Internet Academy. The core classes, taught by the Academy's expert instructors, provide all students with a broad base of competencies in business and information technology.

Students enrolled in this Academy often work together on fun and exciting projects, such as the "Rumble in the Jungle Robot Races," which have been held annually for several years. Eight designated teams race computer-programmed robots they build, design and program. Each team includes students from all course programs, which encourages them to work together and integrate their respective skills within the group.

Speaking about the project, David Braun, an Auburn graduate of the Networking & Electronics program, says, "We worked on this project as a team for several weeks. …