As we step towards the future, our vision for Piner High School is to become a dynamic educational community filled with compassionate individuals prepared to engage the 21st Century. We will promote inquiry, collaboration, creativity, perseverance, and rigor in order to foster civic involvement and personal success.
Description of Piner High School and educational facilities
Piner High School is located in Northwest Santa Rosa, and its population base draws from a suburban community that was once identified as a traditional agricultural area. Piner is one of five comprehensive high schools within Santa Rosa City Schools, and our partner middle school is Hilliard Comstock Middle School, which is also an institution re-designing itself as a 21st Century school. Piner opened in 1966, and within the past decade, the school has undergone renovations to allow it to keep pace with current technological innovations and progressive educational ideas. These campus improvements include: our new twenty-three classroom and administration building, a performing arts theater, a professional-grade culinary arts building, an all-weather track and football field, a re-modeled library media center, and an additional Title I computer lab. Technology upgrades have included new computers in the library, the addition of Smart Boards in math classrooms and LCD projectors and document readers in most core classrooms. There are also two classrooms outfitted with 32 computers each; these facilities serve as the home for the Computers for College and Careers course that is the foundation for our Freshmen Transitions Program. Presently our school population hovers at about 950. We serve a highly diverse set of students that includes 70% non-white, 60% economically disadvantaged, 16% English learners, and 13% students with disabilities. (This information was derived from our Fall 2012 WASC Report.) With facilities that allow us to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Science (STEAM) education, Piner High School is ready to offer a learning experience that prepares students to enter a complex world as involved citizens and to engage in a rich and rewarding life.
Cutting Edge Learning: new science and technology center
The new Piner High School Science Center will be completed in Summer 2013. The original idea for this facility emerged as a grant proposal more than ten years ago, and actual construction began last summer. The center itself is a dream-come-true for the science department, which will use the new building as a place for designing and implementing project-based learning. Although the original concept was to provide a home for the Geospatial Technology Program, the idea grew to include a more broad-based platform for highly relevant, "hands-on" learning experiences in STEAM education. Staff from all disciplines will have the opportunity to use the presentation space and the computer lab for student-centered learning. Within the wider educational community, the center will provide focused learning opportunities for younger students in our partner elementary schools and middle schools. It will also bestow Piner with a fresh "face" that includes a planetarium and an observatory. We expect to host guest lectures from industry professionals, and we hope to become renown as a high school that contains a premier educational facility that is unequaled within California. For Piner High School students and staff, the science and technology center has become a symbol of revitalization and an emblem of 21st Century learning on our campus.
Site Commitment to Technology
Currently staff at Piner High School use a district-provided online student data system to take attendance and to provide grades for progress reports and for the quarter and semester marks. In addition, there is the optional Home Access Center that some instructors use to provide homework assignments online and information about student progress on individual assessments. In math classrooms SMART Boards are used routinely, and other core classrooms have document readers and projectors to enhance instruction. With students, teachers utilize computers as key components of instruction. Faculty members generate curriculum-related documents through word processing and PowerPoint software. These examples of technology, however, are no longer cutting edge. Rather, they are as routine as overheads and mimeograph machines were thirty years ago.
Some staff have had experience with platforms that encourage student-teacher and student-student interactions such as Edmodo, Google.docs, Moodle, and the use of hand-held responders (clickers). For instance, in science classes students work in groups to collect data with computer interfaced probes. At the present time, however, there are only pockets of experimentation with these programs at Piner. Collaborative instruction is certainly not the norm. We recognize that today’s students need to have daily access to information that is available through technology and the worldwide web. They need to have opportunities to analyze information and to construct their own understanding of varied texts and data through dialogue and writing. “Flipped classrooms” are but one example of instructional means for mastering curricular concepts that help students construct meaning. Students also need to reflect upon their learning process and to communicate with others through presentation platforms in order to bring the experience to the next level.
The technological advancements of the 21st Century are equivalent to the paradigm shift that occurred when Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450. In order to prepare our students for the future that is now, Piner High School staff needs enhanced professional development that will allow us to have a more collective approach to the use of multiple media resources and to help us transform our teacher-centered classrooms into student-focused learning environments. We also wish to continue to develop our site as a learning institution with a STEAM focus. This transformation demands enhanced use of technology in every classroom. We plan to support professional development through site-allocated Title I funding, and we will participate in district-wide efforts to build a cohesive plan for improving school information infrastructures. Through our participation in the 21st Century Learning Institute this summer at Sonoma County Office of Education, we hope to create an action plan concerning acquisition and implementation of new technology and programs to prepare our students more effectively for a life of learning beyond high school.