Naugatuck BOE approves new high school courses

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By Elio Gugliotti, Editor

NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck High School students interested in a career in education may be able to begin down that path starting in the 2021-22 school year.

A “future educator’s pathway” is among the changes to the high school’s course offerings approved by the Board of Education on Jan. 14. The changes won’t be final until the 2021-22 school budget is adopted.

The pathway consists of three courses: a teachers, schools and society course offered at Southern Connecticut State University, a class on health and education in urban communities offered by the University of Connecticut, and an introduction to education that will be taught at the high school.

Students don’t have to take all three courses, Director of Curriculum Caroline Messenger said. Students who take the SCSU and UConn courses can earn college credit. Students will have to pay $150 to take the UConn class.

The pathway is also part of a larger initiative to encourage Naugatuck students, especially students of color, to choose education as a career and return to work in the school system.

The pathway won’t have an impact on the school budget. The curriculum will be paid for through a grant, according to a memo detailing the course changes.

The future educator’s pathway is among eight additions to the high school’s offerings. New courses include America pop culture from World War II to the present, and sports and entertainment marketing.

An introduction to genocide studies course offered by UConn will also be added. Students will have to pay $150 for the course and can earn college credit.

A health II class, which is necessary to meet new state requirements, will be required for all juniors. The class will cover topics like health ideas and trends, mental and emotional health, and violence prevention. The class is estimated to cost about $100,000 for the equivalent of 1.5 new full-time teachers to make sure all students can take the class.

A college and career readiness seminar, which is also to meet new state requirements, is designed to help students plan for education and life after high school. The course, which will be two semesters and span students’ junior and senior years, is estimated to cost $25,000 in the 2021-22 school year and $50,000 in the 2022-23 school year to pay for staff.

As part of the course changes, the child care I and child care II courses will be eliminated because the school doesn’t have certified staff to teach them, according to the memo.

The high school will continue offering an early childhood education program run in partnership with Post University. Students can take early childhood education courses through Post and earn college credit. The program costs the district about $15,000 a year.

The high school and the Early Childhood Center will offer a child care option in a classroom at the high school. Students who have taken or are taking the early childhood course at Post will also be eligible to intern in the classroom.

Algebra IB and applied geometry will also be cut. Students who would take these classes will take algebra I and geometry instead.