29 Jul 2019

Preparatory Course for Secondary (PCS) Welcomes First Cohort

Published by Noelle Teoh

Preparatory Course for Secondary (PCS) Welcomes First Cohort

After several months of planning a cutting-edge academic English program, we finally launched last week with 40 students from 5 different countries and 3 teachers. Mr. Anthony Mauldin, from the United States teaches Math and Science and Ms. Natasha Stacey, originally from Australia, teaches Humanities and English Literature. Before joining Stamford, Mr. Mauldin spent 3 years teaching in the United Arab Emirates. And Ms. Stacey taught for 5 years at Kaohsiung American School in Taiwan. Both Mr. Mauldin and Ms. Stacey bring considerable content area expertise to their positions. Mr. Marc Ferris, from Scotland, will teach our EAL classes beginning in late August. Marc has taught in Hong Kong and Singapore and specializes in English literacy. During the interim, Mr. Ian Smith, Principal of PCS, will be filling Mr. Ferris’s role as the EAL instructor. The sum total of our teachers’ expertise translates into a dynamic classroom experience for our students.

The mission of PCS is to prepare English language learners for the rigors of Stamford’s mainstream academic environment. Further, our goal is to provide or students with the knowledge, skills, and mindset to succeed in each step of their education. To that end, our subject area experts teach content that has been aligned with Stamford mainstream standards. This requires our students to become familiar with the basics of the IB MYP framework that stress inquiry-based learning in a project-based classroom structure. Aside from course contents, students are also assessed on their ability to master skills that help them become better learners and seekers of knowledge. For many of our students, this is a new way of conceptualizing school. But through careful instruction, we empower our students to take ownership of their learning journey and to make connections across disciplines. Step by step, they learn how to master the MYP curriculum and thrive at Stamford.

PCS parents are eager to know as much as possible about how their student is progressing in the program. We took this concern very seriously when designing PCS. In anticipation of this need for current and accurate data, we implemented a number of overlapping English language and quantitative ability assessments that giving us real time monitoring of student academic development. The WIDA English language assessment bookends the program as it is given during the admissions process and in December as a part of the PCS exit criteria. Accompanying WIDA is the SLATE English proficiency test, which we administer 3 times per semester, and serves as a benchmark language assessment and provides additional skill information, such as grammar ability. The most frequently used diagnostic tool we use is IXL, which give us a wealth of information about a student’s current Math and Language Arts ability. IXL also identifies specific skill sets that students need to to refine in both disciplines. The Newselareading program we employ tracks student’s reading ability as they advance through ever more difficult content. The data generated from this diverse array of assessments are shared with PCS students and will be sent home as a part of regular progress reports to parents.

During our first week of classes we were thrilled to have Dr. Sands come address our students. His words of wisdom and encouragement energized our students and staff and set us on a positive trajectory. During the Q&A section of his address, one student asked some important questions about what kind of classes students can expect to take once they graduate from PCS. Below a number of FAQs and answers that are of particular relevance to you and child:

What are the mainstream academic pathways available to PCS graduates?

Students who graduate from PCS in December will either enter Mainstream EAL (MEAL) classes or regular mainstream Stamford courses depending on their WIDA scores and course performance in PCS.

I’m a 10th grader in PCS. If I graduate in December, can I join the IBDP program?

10th graders are welcome to take MYP courses in January, but the IBDP program doesn’t begin until the 11th grade. If your academic performance is strong enough, you can join IBDP in August of your 11th grade year.

I’m a 10th grader in PCS. If I graduate in December, can I join AP classes?

Because AP courses are typically two semesters in duration, this will be assessed on a case by case basis. If your academic performance is high enough, and the AP teacher believes you can hand the workload, then you may be given a chance to enter the course.

I am a PCS student. Can I participate in CCAs?

Absolutely! We require all PCS students to participate in CCAs. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet other Stamford students and improve you spoken English.

How about music, drama, and sports?

These activities are also open to PCS students.


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