EdWatch: Easing the transition from middle school to high school

By Amy Cherry 11:39pm, August 20, 2013
WDEL's Amy Cherry talks with Chris Kohan, Assistant Principal of Dickinson High School's Ninth Grade Academy.
Building confidence and navigating the way to smoother middle school to high school transition, that's the goal of a special program in Red Clay.

WDEL's Amy Cherry has more in this week's WDEL Delaware EducationWatch.

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The transition between middle school and high school can be daunting.
But the award-winning Ninth Grade Transition Academy at Dickinson High School seeks to ease students' fears.

"So we added a freshman seminar course, specifically geared towards preparing them for high school," We created a school within a school to give them what they feel is a safe, nurturing environment," says Chris Kohan, Assistant Principal for the Transition Academy.

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Kohan says they initially planned to talk about coursework, but found students had other concerns.

"Students came in afraid of getting lost and not being able to open their lockers. So we devote a day at the beginning of the year towards all of those little things that help ninth graders feel comfortable and not scared to be in school, and sort of easing some of that anxiety," he says.

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By the end of their ninth grade year, Kohan says students are ready to be part of the full high school.

"They can't wait to get out, and once they're out, you see them for the next three years, wanting to get back in," Kohan says.

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Upper class students also have advisers, who they met in the Academy back when they were freshman.

"So we had to build in ways to allow the students to get back to sort of what they saw as sort of their go-to adult in the building so that they could still meet with them and follow them all the way through their high school experience," says Kohan.

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