Two Halifax County High School teachers, English teacher Beth Layne and science teacher Leslie Bohanon, have been leading the charge for interdisciplinary or blended courses, student externships/internships and student advisory.
It’s all a part of the statewide push for secondary students to have material directed toward the “5 C’s”—critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and citizenship skills.
Their work also recently gained the attention of Hollins University thanks to a submission from Layne’s former student (see related story) and the state through a grant to develop or implement innovative programs.
HCHS received a fifth of $50,000 due to being part of the Design Virginia High School Innovation Network along with schools in Henrico, Mecklenburg and Charles City counties.
Bohanon said the “grant focuses on interdisciplinary or blended courses, student externships/internships and student advisory.”
For the past two years, they’ve offered Humanities — U.S. History and English II and Humanities —Government/ English 12. Last year, they also added BioNutrition.
They also were in the process of developing a technical writing course before the previous school year abruptly ended due to COVID-19.
“Some of the strengths of interdisciplinary courses are connecting subjects and making the learning more meaningful to students. Many students find the hybrid courses more challenging and a great springboard to college coursework. Having two teachers working together also gives the students a real life example of teamwork in the workplace,” said Bohanon.
When teaching BioNutrition, Bohanon said it felt like it allowed students to examine their own lives and choices as relate to their personal wellness.
In getting the state grant, superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg said Halifax County High School was the “lead school division” and credited Bohanon and Layne for writing the grant.
“I’m really proud,” said Lineburg, who also said local teachers have been working together to create the best new practices and curriculum that are geared towards meeting the needs of the community.
He also noted the work the teachers have done with the student advisory that not only helps students find their path beyond high school, but also gives them a chance to receive social and emotional help as well as scholarship opportunities.