Benton Harbor High School getting face lift

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- This fall, students at Benton Harbor High School will find new desks, new laptops and new classrooms as part of a $700,000 renovation project.

The changes go beyond just appearance, the curriculum and the way students learn is also getting a makeover.

"It's a beautiful building but it really needed a facelift on the inside," said Dawn Fredrickson, Project Manager for New Tech.

Construction workers are knocking out walls and making major changes to the building.

"We are replacing all of the old chalk boards with marker boards, we are putting in new ceilings, reinstalling existing light fixtures," said Randy Kitchel, Construction Manager on site for the Skillman Corporation.

Last summer, the third floor got a face lift and by Labor Day the second floor will too.

Benton Harbor High School is getting up to speed thanks to the new tech network.

"Part of new tech is to have integrated courses and that's where two courses come together to work on projects," said Fredrickson.

Classrooms are bigger.

"There's two teachers in a room and no more than 56 students," said Fredrickson.

Fredrickson says under a New Tech curriculum, the focus is not just on academics, but also life skills.

"Skills for the workforce, not only college, but career ready. Our students will have to learn to work collaboratively, they will have to increase their communication skills, their writing skills," said Fredrickson.

With new tech learning, students do all of their school work over the internet using programs like Google Documents.

"Every student and every staff will have an electronic device all day long," said Fredrickson.

Formal teacher-student instruction becomes a thing of the past.

"The learning responsibility is on the student," said Fredrickson.

With New Tech, students will work in groups to solve problems.

"Students have to set up a contract, a working contract, students can actually be fired from a group and so it really mimics the real world," said Fredrickson.

Fredrickson says from what they've seen so far, this teaching model builds character and a sense of accountability.

Benton Harbor High School practiced the New Tech curriculum with some students on the third floor last year and say it worked well, students had a sense of accomplishment and responsibility.

Once the whole school goes new tech, they are getting rid of the bell system.


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