District Puts Freshmen Front and Center with Freshmen Academy

Granite School District, Salt Lake City, Utah

College and career readiness is an integral part of Granite School District culture, as evidenced by the district’s College and Career Readiness (CCR) department focused specifically on helping students prepare for the next step—whatever it might be.

CCR Director Judy Petersen began utilizing the Career Choices curriculum in three of Granite’s nine high schools in 2015-2016, actively engaging 1,500 freshmen in pursuit of their dreams at Kearns High School, Granger High School, and Hunter High School.  “We want all students to commit to graduate from high school [being] college, career, and life ready,” says Ms. Petersen, explaining that Freshmen Academy was a success from the very beginning.

“The Career Choices curriculum was exactly what we were looking for!  We wanted a research-based curriculum and we found it.”  Ms. Petersen, in doing her preliminary research, came across the George Washington University Freshman Transition Initiative established by Dr. Rebecca Dedmond.  Ms. Petersen made the journey to Los Angeles and attended the annual Focus on Freshmen Conference in the summer of 2014. “I learned so much...saw the possibilities of My10yearPlan, and when I returned to Salt Lake City, I met with my Superintendent, Dr. Martin Bates.  He bought in immediately and so we began...”

Recruiting twelve top teachers, including lead teachers Tracy Timothy (Granger HS), Chad Martin (Kearns HS), and Jeff Sillito (Hunter HS), made the implementation of the curriculum nearly flawless.  “The staff at Academic Innovations, the publishers of the Career Choices curriculum, were there at every step,” added Ms. Petersen.

What’s next?  “We are developing benchmarks to actually measure the results that we feel we are getting from this program.  The Career Choices curriculum is doing a very good job, in a very direct way, to help students see the link between what they are learning in school and the rest of their lives,” concludes Ms. Petersen.  And, most certainly, Freshmen Academy will become an even greater part of the district curriculum as Cottonwood High School and Cyprus High School begin implementation in 2016-2017.