SPS Teams With The SCA To Help High School Students Learn To Tackle Real Life Issues
One of the expanding facets of Saugatuck High School’s project-based learning (PBL) programs is partnering with the Saugatuck Center for the Arts (SCA) in tackling real-world problems.
“We are in the 21st century and if you are going to stay relevant, you need to be engaged with the community, and that is why a big part of our mission is education,” SCA Executive Director Kristin Armstrong said during her presentation at Monday’s Saugatuck Public Schools (SPS) Board of Education meeting.
The idea behind PBL is to have students immerse themselves in complex problems and challenges facing the world today, thereby providing students with a deeper knowledge of issues and opportunities to gain problem-solving and interpersonal skills.
Certain teachers are trained in PBL and the strategy expands across different grades and different disciplines in the school district.
The partnering with the SCA started three years ago as part of a senior seminar with a group of seven students participating. The program was so successful, SPS and SCA have expanded it to include 10 groups of seven kids and covers a wide-range of topics.
“We started with International Day of the Girl (a global effort to empower young women and girls) in the 2013/2014 school year; we had a school-wide study as part of it,” said Saugatuck High School Social Studies Teacher John Green.
Green has been instrumental in forging the SCA-SPS relationship.
Teen homelessness—particularly teens aging out of the foster care system—was tackled next in the 2014/2015 school year, followed by human trafficking in the 2015/2016 cycle.
As a professional art venue, the SCA not only has the unique opportunity to serve as an intermediary between students and businesses/ organizations, but provides the space and resources to inject art and creativity into the PBL process, (i.e., artwork exhibitions that speak about a certain pressing issue.)
This year’s PBL program participants with the SCA are expected to work with Grace of Douglas, Habitat For Humanity, the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, product design company Twisthink, and so on.
“Through arts in (the SCA model used to implement PBL), students work on real-world social justice problems with regional businesses.
They research, analyze, trouble shoot, create, evaluate, and problem solve. Students also give public presentations at the SCA and create deliverables for businesses,” the SCA website informs.
“We no longer live in an information economy, we live in an innovation economy,” said Armstrong. “We really need to figure