Big Picture Part Of TPS Alternative Plan

Tuesday, June 2nd 2009, 9:53 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Public Schools has a new plan for alternative education.  The district is planning to add two Big Picture Schools to the slate of alternative options.  It's not just new programs, but a new philosophy sweeping the district.

Every tile represents a life Project 12 helped change and shape.  For some students, it's been the alternative that's made the difference.  But, for all of its successes a recent audit reported Project 12 has had as many failures with 50% dropping out.

Now after months of study, the Tulsa School Board has decided to reinvent Project 12 and Franklin Youth Academy as Big Picture Schools.

05/18/2009  Related Story: Big Picture Change Could Come To Tulsa School

"I can't wait to get started," said Franklin Youth Academy Principal Ava Fisher.

Fisher visited Providence, Rhode Island to check out The Met which is the first Big Picture School.

"I was amazed at how well it worked," said Franklin Youth Academy Principal Ava Fisher.

The Met throws out your traditional view of school.  No more core classes taught by different teachers in segments throughout the day.

"It's much easier to not have to transition every hour to a new personality, a different classroom, a different environment. One structure, one family, and then that family becomes everything you need," said Franklin Youth Academy Principal Ava Fisher.

Fisher believes the Big Picture concept will work because of what she's learned about students over the last 20 years.

"When I ask students why are you not in class?  Why can't I get you to do what you're supposed to do? A lot of times they say because it's not interesting. I'm bored. We going to take care of that," said Franklin Youth Academy Principal Ava Fisher.

It all comes back to centering learning on the students and their interests.  Two days a week high school students will trade the classroom for an internship.  Middle school students will remain in class, but Fisher says they will have mentors come to them.  Both schools have a lot of work ahead to transform into Tulsa Mets, but Fisher is welcoming the challenge.

"We have been talking about this for a while and the only thing that we need is for someone to say ready, set, go and we are ready to do it," said Franklin Youth Academy Principal Ava Fisher.

The Tulsa School Board said go on Monday night.

Project 12 will phase in the program allowing current 11th and 12th graders to finish the program they've started. 

Some Big Picture ideas are being spread throughout the district at schools like TRAICE, the former Tulsa Academic Center.