Lee High School has started a Freshman Focus program this fall. Modeled after an outstanding program developed by the Institute for Human Services and high schools in the Columbus, Ohio area, the Freshman Focus curriculum is divided into a 3-day summer camp and ten modules that begin with the start of the school year, concluding at the end of the second trimester.
Each module has specific objectives designed to cover the many social and academic issues and topics that ninth grade students need to be successful in high school. Modules are designed to build from one to the next in both content and intensity. Lessons range from stressing the importance of school spirit, to using the media center, to learning effective note taking and study skills, to getting along with others, to writing college applications, and much more. Additionally, they are meant to be timely so that issues being discussed in Freshman Focus correspond to events and activities happening at the school and in students' lives. The Freshman Focus curriculum includes detailed lessons, activities, and discussion guides to complement each of the ten modules.
A key component of Freshman Focus is mentorship. The structure of the program is essential in order to make effective use of daily time and establish credibility; however, built into Freshman Focus is the opportunity for ninth grade students to learn from and model the behavior of respected teachers and upperclassmen students. A group of four or five student leaders and one teacher mentor is assigned to approximately 20-25 freshmen in the ninth grade class. There are four Freshman Focus classrooms. The teacher mentor and student leaders then work together to deliver Freshman Focus content. Some lessons are led by the teacher; others are led by the teacher mentor and student leaders together; and many are taught solely by the student leaders. Student leaders are selected from the junior and senior class through an application process.
If Freshman Focus achieves its purpose, the result will be a group of ninth grade students at Lee High School who are comfortable in their new high school setting and who have acquired a skills set that will increase the chances of high school success both academically and socially.
Freshman Focus Modules
Module 1 - HS Survival Skills
Module #1 is designed to give incoming freshmen the basics they'll need to know to get through the first couple weeks of high school. They need to be able to navigate their way through the building and begin to understand the many differences between middle school and high school.
Module 2 - Relationships and Activities
Module #2 helps students understand the importance of relationships in high school - relationships with the adults in the building and relationships with other ninth graders in the Focus classroom. Students also learn about school activities, clubs, and athletic programs that are available to help make the most of the high school years.
Module 3 - Make the Grade
Module #3 is the first academic module in the FreshmanFocus program. It is imperative that ninth graders get off to a good start academically, and this can be accomplished through the teaching of study skills, note taking skills, and learning styles. Students also learn about the resources available to them at school to help build academic success.
Module 4 - Who am I?
Module #4 is an introduction to the study of culture and diversity in FreshmanFocus. Ninth graders need to develop an understanding of themselves, what they believe in, and how they relate with everyone else in the school building. Activities and discussions create the opportunity for freshmen to answer the question, "who am I?" and prepare for deeper examination of culture and diversity.
Module 5 - Exploration of Others
Module #5 is a continuation of the work that started in the previous module in which students began to identify their own personal beliefs and values. In this module, students begin to explore the beliefs and values of other students - and how they're similar and different. Through powerful activities and discussions, freshmen recognize the harmful effects of stereotyping and discrimination and identify strategies and techniques to make sure these negative actions are not a part of their lives or school.
Module 6 - The Crunch
Module #6 returns to the academic side of the FreshmanFocus program. Typically falling at semester exam time, this module focuses on study skills, test preparation strategies, and time management. Students also begin to set goals for themselves - both immediate and long term goals and they plan for the future.
Module 7 - Getting Along with Others
Module #7 tackles the issue troubling high schools nationwide - bullying. Through activities and well-structured discussions, ninth graders get a firsthand glimpse at the negative effects of bullying. The module teaches strategies for developing a positive self esteem and healthy, effective ways to resolve conflict with others.
Module 8 - Leadership
Module #8 introduces students to the characteristics of effective leaders. Ninth graders assess their own leadership skills and learn strategies to become better leaders. This module also provides students with information about leadership opportunities within the school.
Module 9 - Wellness
Module #9 is a focus on the self - how to deal with stress, how to relax, and how to self advocate. This module also creates the opportunity for discussion of peer pressure, sexual decision making, and drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.
Module 10 - Careers and College
Module #10 is about the future. It is important that freshmen begin to think about life after the ninth grade year and even after high school. In this module, students map out course choices for the rest of their high school years. They also plan for post-secondary life looking at colleges and careers. Module #10 was designed using an interactive career website called Career Cruising.