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In The News: Las Vegas Israelite

Thursday, August 30, 2018
Blazing the Academic Trail 
The Adelson Educational Campus (AEC) is again blazing the trail in its pursuit of excellence in Values, Academics & Community. The only preschool through 12th grade Jewish Day School in the state of Nevada, AEC launched the 2018-19 school year with three progressive and ambitious Upper School academic initiatives that address the manner in which today’s 21st century student receives, processes, and maximizes information. 
Project Based Learning (PBL), Integrated Humanities, and Student Selected Majors are uniquely designed programs that enable and empower teaching and learning through authentic and collaborative experience, personal and focused interest, public recognition, and community participation. Two years ago, capitalizing on its boutique size, AEC introduced a multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art technology lab called Startup Incubator where students learn coding, build drones, design programs for 3D printing, and create digitally produced works of art and science. 
Upper School Assistant Principals Milly Joyner and Ben Koch are excited to add to the school’s progressive vision for learning. “Innovative learning strategies are purposed to inspire deep thinkers and doers, facilitate spirited discussion and debate, and create citizens of the world – young people who are comfortable with challenge and risk because they are armed with problem solving skills and the self-confidence to implement them,” says Joyner. 
“At AEC we are investing in learning based strategies that are essential to meeting the needs and demands of how today’s students learn,” adds Koch. Koch explains that the PBL teaching method is designed to give students real life knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a real-life, engaging, complex question, problem, or challenge.
“Students and teachers reflect on the effectiveness and quality of a project’s activities; review obstacles; and evaluate how to overcome them. In the end, students present and explain their project to a public audience,” says Koch. “PBL makes learning come alive for the students. It gives them ownership of their interests and ideas and guides them along the path to execute and achieve,” adds Joyner. “It’s about how curriculum is delivered. This new methodology unleashes a contagious, creative energy among students and teachers.”
Joyner and Koch are equally excited about the Integrated Humanities and Student Selected Majors programs. “Instead of creating divisions between closely-related subject matter, we instruct using an interdisciplinary approach. For example, we integrate humanities courses so that students can dive more deeply into the connections among literature, history, social, and Jewish studies,” says Joyner.
High school students can also select up to two areas of study to ‘major in’. Five majors are offered for student consideration: Judaics, Pre-Law, Pre-Med, Communication Arts, and Technology and Entrepreneurship. “The result, by grade 11 and 12, is a capstone, or cumulative, learning experience. Students are prepared to apply their knowledge to real life work opportunities. We help them to get internships in the community in their chosen areas of study,” says Joyner. 
To further support student excellence, AEC has on staff a PSAT Counselor who works with 11thgrade students for 45 minutes a day, 4 days a week, in the first quarter of their junior year to prepare for the PSAT test. Practice tests are given on six consecutive Sundays. “This not only gives students a testing advantage, it saves parents a fortune in private tutors!” says Joyner. Dr. Camille McCue is the school’s Director of Curriculum Innovations. “The educational landscape is evolving rapidly as technological innovations change the way students learn and teachers instruct,” says McCue. 
McCue emphasizes that AEC students are fortunate to be on the forefront of receiving technology mediated access to tools for research, communication, collaboration, analysis, visualization and presentation. “These teaching and learning practices are fundamental to every course offered at AEC, providing students with extensive opportunities for engaging in a true 21stcentury learning experience,” she adds. “To my knowledge, no other school in Nevada is doing this!”