by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--The teaching curriculum actually encourages students to use laptops, smart phones and the Internet to get their assignments done.
The building located at 300 East 29th opened as the Career Center. Recently it became the Advanced Technologies Center. Starting in August, students, faculty and staff will be calling it New Tech High School.
Some of their teaching methods may be different from regular high schools but the incentives they offer appeal to almost everyone.
"We are talking about smart phones. We are talking about Internet access 24 hours a day. This generation doesn't know a world, outside of that," Adrian Vega, Principal of New Tech in Odessa, said.
It's that technology that Vega says, they are embracing and building their instruction around. Kids may already have it when they come into school, but the question is, are they literate?
"Digital literacy, collaboration, presentation skills, because in the real world, technically, we have to work with others. We need to know how to collaborate. We need to know how to use technology," Vega explained.
New Tech is project-based learning, meaning it gives students a more hands on approach to their core subjects and gives them more involvement in the learning process, other than just sitting at their desk listening to the teacher and taking notes.
According to Vega, "If the teacher is the one, the bearer of all knowledge, and the students come as empty vessels and all we're doing is filling their minds with knowledge, then that student doesn't go through that process of figuring it out and problem solving, of really engaging with their colleagues or their peers to come up with the solution."
Aside from group problem solving, they'll also make presentations at the end of project assignments.
"This is where that technology comes in because they're going to be able to utilize laptops. They're going to able to utilize the Internet, to make their presentations," Vega said.
Another advantage is smaller class sizes, since there will only be seats for 120 Freshman and 120 Sophomores.
Vega adds, one thing New Tech Odessa won't have, is extracurricular activities, "If a student happens to make one of these squads or teams and it takes place at the start of the day or the end of the day, then we can see it they're able to participate. Let's say, if orchestra or baseball is in the middle of the day, they're going to have to make a choice, whether they want to go that route or come to New Tech."
As one of 62 models in the country, New Tech Odessa shares some pretty interesting statistics. Last year, 98% of New Tech graduates were accepted to a college or university.
"We're not going to be able to be all things to everyone, but what we will be, to those who want to be there, is something phenomenal," Vega said proudly.