What's Special at MHS?
Some of the reasons why students grow and thrive at MHS are:
- California Workforce Pathways
- Design Thinking
- Full Inclusion
- Small School Community
- Standards-Based Teaching and Grading
We offer two industry-themed pathways at MacDonald High- Creative Studies & Digital Arts and Engineering, Design, & Entrepreneurship. These pathways are aligned with the Federal Perkins V State Plan (Career Technical Education Reform). They are also aligned with two of California’s Priority Industry Sectors- Arts, Media, & Entertainment, and Information and Communication Technologies. This means that MacDonald High’s coursework and work based learning opportunities will ensure that Condors develop the foundational career pathways skills and knowledge needed to complete industry-valued certificates and degrees as they matriculate into post-secondary studies and training. This type of preparation will later enable Condors to enter occupations with documented demand and living wages.
During the 2022-2023 school year, all ninth grade students joined one of two pathways, Creative Studies & Digital Art or Engineering, Design, & Entrepreneurship, and have been taking English, Biology, and their Pathway-based course (either Introduction to Art or Exploring Computer Science) with other students in their pathway. As these students transition into their tenth grade year, some students will be moving onto: Art 2, Theater 2, or Music 2, or Advanced Placement Computer Science. Students who transition into these Level 2 courses will have priority access to CSU/UC A-G Aligned Career Technical Education (CTE) courses in their 11th-grade and 12-grade years, which will include work based learning opportunities (e.g., job shadowing, apprenticeship, internship, mentoring).
During the 2023-2024 school year, incoming ninth graders who choose to take 7 classes may elect to take Art 1, Theater 1, Music 1, or Exploring Computer Science. As these students transition into their tenth grade year, they will have the opportunity to move onto Level 2 courses, and will have access to CSU/UC A-G Aligned Career Technical Education (CTE) courses in their 11th-grade and 12-grade years.
Students who are in the Creative Studies and Digital Arts Learning pathway will:
Explore various medium in Art (e.g., drawing, painting, ceramics, and computerized graphic art)
Utilize technology used in the workplace, and acquire skills needed to thrive in college and career
Have access to Music and Theater classes
Be encouraged to celebrate self-expression
Have the opportunity to specialize in Graphic Design or Game Design in 11th &12th grade
MacDonald students who are in the Creative Studies and Digital Arts Learning Community will:
Take Introduction to Art in the 9th grade
May be able to take a CTE class in the 10th grade; especially, if they choose to take 7 classes
And will take Graphic Design or Game Design classes in 11th and 12th grade
Students who are in the Engineering, Design, and Entrepreneurship pathway will:
Explore various areas within Innovation and Design (e.g., coding, electrical engineering, and developing products with machinery)
Utilize the Invention Process used in the workplace, and acquire skills needed to thrive in college and career
Have the opportunity to specialize in Manufacturing or Engineering Technology in 11th & 12th grade
Take Exploring Computer Science in the 9th grade
May take Advanced Placement Computer Science in the 10th grade, if they choose to take 7 classes
And will take Product Innovation and Design or Engineering Technology classes in 11th and 12th grade
The focus of each pathway will be grounded in the design thinking process. MacDonald High School Staff, and industry partners and university partners will collaborate to facilitate inquiry-based, interdisciplinary approaches to learning in which students apply content knowledge and technical skills to community-oriented problems that matter to students.
A Design Thinking Culture will be cultivated at MacDonald High School to inspire creativity and continual growth.
The Design Thinking Process is a human-centered approach to solving problems. It begins with empathizing with people who are facing a particular challenge, defining and brainstorming ways to address it, putting solutions in place, and then checking to see if their conditions improved. Commitment to trying again after perceived setbacks is a part of the Design Thinking Process.
Design thinking is used in many career fields and has led to advances in medicine, business, public service, engineering, and education- just to name a few.
Our Students and Staff will be supported in developing a growth-mindset that will enable empathy, collaboration, and experimentation as lifelong learners.
As Condors, we are F.I.E.R.C.E. The Condor Way is in alignment with the SCUSD Vision 2035 Graduate Portrait. At MHS, we are designing curricula and programs that will ensure that students graduate with all of the competencies we know they will need to thrive in their post-secondary endeavors.
Over their four years at MHS, we will provide students with opportunities to reflect on their learning, showcase their discoveries, and learn from pinpointed areas of growth (click here to preview details about our Celebration of Learning/Open House taking place on May 24th 2023). The improvement cycle is an approach that our students and staff will take for the betterment of their personal and team effectiveness and efficacy. As Condors, we will perpetually ask, “how are we growing”, in the Condor competencies.
One way that we will plan our growth is through Liberatory Design, a type of Design Thinking that marries the Stanford d.school’s process with the National Equity Project’s social justice focus. As students and staff work to improve products, systems, and outcomes for the people we are designing for, we will build from a place of empathy and seeking to understand. Students will get to explore Liberatory Design in their coursework, as part of school-wide lessons, and design challenges during Personalized Competency Based Learning (PCBL) Time.
MHS features a state-of-the-art, 3600 square feet, Design Lab in our Performing Arts Center. It is equipped with traditional manufacturing and digital fabrication tools. Our plans for incorporating traditional manufacturing tools and digital fabrication tools are drawn from our in-house experience and consultation with other educators throughout the country. MHS Design Labs will be an open, welcoming space for all. Currently, we have four staff members who will be completing Krause Center for Innovation Makerspace Certification in Spring 2023. Our resident experts will be sharing their design thinking knowledge with students and staff to accelerate their innovations.
Staff at MHS believe in taking a Whole Child/Scholar Approach to learning and teaching. We focus first on creating a sense of belonging for each student, by getting to know their individual needs and interests, and matching them with fulfilling learning experiences. Our staff champions diversity, equity, and inclusion. We value plurality of perspectives, developmental stages, and learning needs. As part of our commitment to social justice, we encourage students to advocate for themselves and to raise issues when others are excluded. Students are supported in social skill development through school wide lessons, assemblies and programs such as our Equity Ambassadors Program, where they learn from youth advocates about how to maximize their own wellness and contribute to social well-being.
The Co-teaching model is a crucial strategy employed at MHS. With the help of a special education teacher and a general education teacher in classes that include students with neurodiverse needs, every student is able to reach proficiency or mastery of grade-level content area standards. More than half of our core academic classes are “co-taught”, which means that our students are benefitting from having two highly qualified teachers in their classes who can facilitate learning and provide individualized timely support.
MHS opened in August 2022 and welcomed an inaugural class of 215 ninth-graders. In August 2023, we expect an incoming ninth-grade class of about the same size, for a total of about 430 students in the 2023-2024 school year. Due to our small size, our staff is able to ensure that the needs of each student are known and met. Students have a unique opportunity to get to know more of their classmates in both academic and extra-curricular settings.
We are able to offer freshman and sophomore-level classes, including electives and honors courses that are comparable to other high schools in the area. (click here to view our 22-23 Course Request Cards). Student course requests drive these offerings and any related staffing needs.
One unique feature of the MHS bell schedule is the Personalized Competency Based Learning (PCBL) Time twice a week. This is similar to homeroom, advisory, flex, or tutorial time. During this time, every student meets with their advisor who provides ongoing support and encouragement. This is also the time that students get to attend embedded recovery opportunities (test retakes, additional time to finish assignments, extra help understanding lessons, and more), schoolwide rallies and workshops, club meetings, and activities in the Library and Design Lab.
Our numbers also support full participation in athletics and school activities. By the end of the 22-23 school year, we will have successfully fielded a freshman football team, a girl’s tennis team, as well as boy’s and girl’s teams for: volleyball, basketball, soccer, cross country, softball/baseball, track, badminton, swim and diving. We also have full classes in: Art, Computer Science, Leadership, Music, Theater, and Sports PE. Additionally, our students have started about ten official clubs (e.g., Gardening, Swifties, Dungeons and Dragons). At MHS, we ensure that every student is involved in at least one sport, activity, or club. All of these are made possible due to our small, caring community.
Teachers at MacDonald High teach to the state-level standards and frameworks in their content areas. Their planning of each unit of study includes intentionality as to which standards will be addressed, how students will be demonstrating proficiency or mastery of each targeted standard, and what scaffolding supports students will need to fully access the learning that will be facilitated. Teachers draw on what they know about what individual students need to provide timely, personalized support. This, again, can be attributed to our small, caring community.
Our teachers believe that learning and teaching is a social process, where student discourse (talk, writing, creation of hands-on models) leads to better retention, and the construction of new knowledge. We are deliberate about facilitating high-quality student interactions in all classes.
MacDonald Teachers employ Standards-Based Grading (please click here to view our teachers’ 22-23 syllabi). This means that assignments and assessments (quizzes, tests, projects) are graded using the targeted standards for the unit, and the extent to which students have demonstrated proficiency or mastery of each standard is measured using a 4-Point Rubric.
Standards Based Grading - The 4-Point Scale
The scores students earn on individual assignments and assessments using the 4-Point Scale are later converted to Letter Grades.
Standards-Based Teaching and Grading is one of the most powerful features of MacDonald High. The grades students and parents see represent students’ understanding of grade/course level standards, and teachers are able to communicate students’ progress, growth, and learning patterns over time.