By on October 30, 2015

By Maribeth Darwin

“You are going where? To do what?”

If you are living with a teenager, you have probably asked these questions. More
than once.

But rarely at 7am. On a Saturday.

For a group of Melrose High School students preparing to take Advanced Placement tests in History, Economics, Psychology, and Global Languages, dragging themselves out of bed on a Saturday was well worth it. And if the passing rate of the AP tests are any indication, those kids were right.

Of the 154 tests administered to MHS students taking AP classes in Languages and Social Sciences, 118 received passing grades. A passing grade often equates to free credit from colleges and universities.

“Oh, yeah, definitely, the Saturday class helped,” Nick Markley, a current MHS senior, remarked about the Economics session. “I don’t think I would have been as confident going into the test if I hadn’t attended. I was able to understand what would be on the actual test. That was great.”

With funds provided by the Melrose Education Foundation, MHS students participated in Ap global languages and social studies Saturday sessions in the spring of 2015. A grant from Mass Insight Education provided similar sessions in math, science, and English.

MHS teachers collaborated with other school districts to offer focused instruction, from a variety of teachers, for their students. Bryan Corrigan, Social Studies Department Chair, and Kim Talbot, Global Language Department Chair, arranged for the eight sessions.

The classes were taught at MHS and at other local high schools in a seminar format. Students learned a variety of topics, each of which was integral to their success on the AP test administered in May.

“The best thing about it was it was taught by someone who grades AP tests,” said Owen Markham, who attended the European History session. “I got a much better understanding of the expectations of the test.”

Not only did the classes assist in test prep, but according to Corrigan, they “gave students the perspective of a different teacher. Some of the most experienced AP teachers in the area attended the sessions.”

Talbot agreed that the sessions were beneficial. “The students really enjoyed preparing for the exam with a teacher who was not their own. Our teachers benefited, too, by observing new teaching styles.”

Both Talbot and Corrigan felt that by attending the sessions with their students, they were able to positively engage all Social Sciences and Language students, not just AP candidates.

“These sessions have immediate impact in the classroom, but more than that, they support sustainable skills that students can take with them beyond Melrose High School and that staff continue to use every day,” Marianne Farrell, MHS Principal, said.

In addition to the funding for Saturday classes, the Melrose Education Foundation granted funds to provide AP training for Global Languages and Social Studies staff at MHS. The school district was able to train an additional AP Economics teacher and to train all Global Languages teachers to fully participate in AP teaching strategies.

“Our educators continue to advance in content and curriculum. The AP training has been invaluable, for all of our students. Our responsibility is to provide teachers with the opportunity to stay current in the field. The advanced placement professional development has done that,” said Farrell.

Do you know a teacher who has a great idea but not the money to fund it? The Melrose Education Foundation is accepting grant proposals through November 9. Grants enable teachers to pursue professional development and to test new ideas and curriculum in the classroom.

Teachers can apply online by going to the “Grants” section of www.MelroseEdFoundation.org.

Maribeth Darwin is the parent of current Melrose High School and Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School students. She is also a member of the Melrose Education Foundation.