District launching polytechnic high school program in Fishers

Students in the Hamilton Southeastern School District in Fishers will have a chance to take an alternative approach to their high school education this fall.

Purdue Polytechnic High School, Hamilton Southeastern Schools, the city of Fishers and the Hub & Spoke Institute announced Tuesday a partnership to create the HSE Polytechnic Program. The four-year program launching this fall will offer science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics-focused courses and credits to students as they pursue their high school diploma, college credits and other industry credentials.

“The most powerful thing we can do is create an educational experience like none other in the world,” Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said. “Our goal is to bring the classroom out into the community, and the community into the classroom.”

As designed, Purdue Polytechnic High School will provide Hamilton Southeastern teachers with a curriculum, training and ongoing support as they guide a group of up to 20 students each.

HSE Polytechnic Program Director Steve Loser said the inaugural class of ninth-graders will likely be about 75 students. As the program adds a grade each year over the next four years, the total enrollment will grow closer to 300.

The planned format allows students collaborate with their teachers and classmates on setting goals, reviewing their progress and learning how to build their schedules for the week.

The Hub & Spoke Institute is an education center in the Hub & Spoke Design Center at 8100 E. 106th St., just off Interstate 69. Already, the design center has leased its retail showrooms to trade professionals in home improvement.

“This program is going to be immersive, in that it will place our children in collaborative, problem-solving situations,” Matt Kegley, Hamilton Southeastern’s Director of Secondary Education, said.

Kegley said being surrounded by entrepreneurs will allow for real world problems to be integrated and addressed as a matter of students’ projects, and students will spend a better part of their day in an actual professional environment.

Purdue Polytechnic, created three years ago, currently has about 370 students at its downtown Indianapolis location and another 70 students in Broad Ripple. The school is set to open a third location, in South Bend, this fall.

Student projects at those schools include hypothetical and actionable projects in collaboration with Subaru of Indiana, IndyCar, Corteva Agriscience and others.

Scott Bess, head of Purdue Polytechnic High School, said the partnership in Fishers is the first of many like it.

“I think Hamilton Southeastern will be recognized as a pioneer in this,” Bess said. “Not everything has to come from within. True education reform is what happens in the classroom.”

David Decker, founder of Hub & Spoke Institute, said it would be too costly for any one of the partners to put on the program. For the private sector’s portion, he said, the program will be seeking paid sponsors. For its part in the program, the city of Fishers is paying rent on the Hub & Spoke Institute’s 17,000-square-foot space in the design center.

“We’re breaking those traditional boxes, if you will, and creating something entirely new and entirely different,” Fadness said.

The program is taking applications for its 2020-21 school year through May 8.

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2 thoughts on “District launching polytechnic high school program in Fishers

  1. My son is in his 2nd year. The article doesn’t give a good description of what Purdue Polytechnic High School (PPHS) is like. I don’t know how close this will follow the format of PPHS downtown but there are areas not so much as classrooms. I’m not sure where I found this paragragh but it describes what goes on there pretty well. “PPHS is so different, it’s hard to describe in a short paragragh. PPHS in Indianapolis is preparing students for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future. Design thinking and rigorous project-based learning replace the traditional slate of 50-minute, stand-alone courses. Learning is organized instead around six interdisciplinary challenges focusing on authentic problems like sustainability, public transportation, conservation, and more. Last year’s partners included the Indianapolis Zoo, Subaru, Fair Oaks Farm, the Indy Fuel Hockey Team, IndyStar Newspaper, and the City of Indianapolis. Each challenge takes students through a project cycle of researching the problem, designing solutions, using technology for collaboration and creation, building prototypes and pitching their ideas to the industry partner”. Is it perfect? NO. Are there things I don’t like? Yes. BUT IT SURE BEATS A REGULAR HS where most classes focus on regurgitating memorized information, have no control over schedules, and are not taught much independence and very little life skills. It’s also made the transition to e-learning at home pretty easy.

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