Frederick County Public Schools plans to launch three new high school courses over the next two years in the areas of business, social sciences and fine arts.
Members of the FCPS Curriculum and Instruction Committee were briefed Wednesday on the new classes being developed for high schoolers.
The first is a marketing course that would be included under business education and would pilot during the 2021-2022 school year. According to a course description posted on the BoardDocs website, the class would focus on the principles of marketing while integrating legal issues, ethics and social responsibilities.
Once the course is developed, students would be able to take it as part of a dual enrollment option with Frederick Community College (FCC) or receive articulated credit for the course.
“We believe we’re raising the rigor and financial literacy in the business pathway,” said Norm McGaughey, coordinator of Career and Tech Education for FCPS.
Additionally, because the course was only written last spring, it has a modern-day approach that includes subjects such as digital and social media marketing, McGaughey said.
“We’ve never had curriculum like this as a foundation, it’s like the cake was baked and now we’re putting on the icing,” he said.
The second course is a Black and African American Studies course that would begin development this year and pilot during the 2022-2023 school year.
Instead of a traditional history course, this class will have a cultural anthropology approach, said Colleen Bernard, secondary social studies curriculum specialist for FCPS.
“It would be a robust course that would include music, art, literature ... religion, language, and so we felt that it would also appeal to a broader number of students because it doesn’t have that history title at the end of it, it has this studies title,” she said.
The class would also pre-date slavery and would explore the history of African people up through their impact on the African diaspora, Bernard said.
The creation of the course came about due to student interest in having a cultural anthropology-type class, Bernard said. Staff is also looking to expand the diversity and equity of course offerings, she said.
FCPS does not need approval from the state Department of Education to run the course, and the development would begin this summer in partnership with professors from Hood College and FCC.
Board member Sue Johnson said although a dual enrollment option for the class would be ideal, she would also like to see FCPS have its own set of teachers who are experts in the content.
“I would like to see FCPS develop pockets of excellence in this area, and so while I see the advantage of the dual enrollment, I would like to have in-house expertise, I would like to have faculty of color teaching this,” she said.
Bernard said there are a number of FCPS teachers with humanities backgrounds who would be qualified to teach the course. There may not be a qualified teacher in every high school currently, but it is something that can be worked on.
The last pilot program presented to the committee was not one course but a full new pathway within the school system’s Academy of Fine Arts (AFA).
The AFA is based at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School and is open to any FCPS student in 10th through 12th grade. It is a magnet program that provides fine arts training and education in the areas of dance, visual arts, theater and music.
The new pathway that was proposed would focus on musical theater.
Kim Hirschmann, curriculum specialist for secondary visual and performing arts for FCPS, said student interest in a more specialized musical theater program has steadily increased over the last few years.
“We want to add an option for students to engage in a more rigorous and college preparation for musical theater which could be offered as a one, two, or three-year program,” she said. “Musical theater is more specialized in some ways, a student who wants to go into a musical theater program ... the audition process and the skillset is a little bit different from a straight theater major or a dance major.”
Each year students are in the program they would take courses in musical theater history, musical theater business, dance technique and performance, acting technique and performance and vocal technique and performance, Hirschmann said.
The program would most likely begin during the 2022-2023 school year, and students would have to audition for acceptance.