Some of the problems associated with California’s public education system are its large class sizes and test-based curriculum that often sacrifice the needs of individual students.MacGregor High School, an alternative learning model that deals with these problems, has finally found its home here in the classrooms of Albany High after moving four times in the past fifteen years.
Although Albany High and MacGregor are often interconnected, with most MacGregor students taking classes from both schools, these students have their own special community.
One of the goals of MacGregor, according to the school’s mission statement, is “To promote student success through direct intervention in a smaller school environment.” They have done this well, with all 30 students fitting in one room.
On November 17, MacGregor’s students and teachers met to give out awards and celebrate their first quarter successes. One of their biggest accomplishments was a mural that some of the students painted on the side of the steps leading to the grassy hill.
The project, where students had a small circular space to fill, brought out an artistic side in students. Said junior Jessica Kelly, “I painted my dog, but not with realistic colors. My dog’s very sentimental to me.” After the award ceremony, all of the students went out and admired the murals, with a special recognition to the artists.
Teachers at MacGregor are part of what helps MacGregor’s community thrive. The school has four teachers, three of whom also teach at AHS. In his second year of teaching at MacGregor, social studies teacher Christopher Knight, who teaches for both schools, said, “I enjoy working with a diverse and talented group of students. MacGregor students have a different perspective on a lot of issues, and I enjoy the separate MacGregor identity.”
Generally speaking, students struggling in the AHS program start MacGregor as sophomores, after being recommended by their counselors. At MacGregor, students make up lost credits in a classroom environment in which they can thrive.
One of the other draws for MacGregor is the smaller class sizes, ranging from eight to 15 students. There’s more of an emphasis on individual student learning.
Among the benefits senior student Christian Juarez enjoys are, “Recovering lost credits and experiencing different teaching methods, where classes go by the speed the student learns.”
MacGregor has been instrumental in helping students graduate with their class.
With everyone working hard with similar goals, this program really brings people together.
Christian Juarez continued, “Even though we’re a small class, all of us work well together: we are a community.”
With great teaching and the alternative learning system, students are put in the best position to achieve their goals. With all the positivity of the system, MacGregor and its community is invaluable for its students.