The Freshman Transition Network

Working together to transition freshmen & transform schools from the bottom up!

Please tell the other members of the network a little about yourself. Nothing is too short and nothing is too long. Just let us know who we are so we can turn this network into a true community.

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I am Angie Besendorfer.  I am serving the students of Joplin Schools as assistant superintendent.  Since the tornado we have the opportunity to totally redesign our high school for 2200 students grades 9-12.  We are wrestling with the concept of creating a freshman "wing" or "academy" against creating a "freshman experience".  We plan to implement a career academy model and are debating about whether students can move from 8th grade into a career pathway or if they need a transition year.  I am very interested in your feedback.  

Thanks for joining, Angie, and for introducing yourself to the group.  I plan to call Sandra Cantwell at some point today.  There's no question whatsoever that 9th graders need a transition year.  The question is how should that look and be structured.  It is definitely possible to have a successful transition year without dedicating the physical resources demanded by the typical academy/wing model. 

my name is amy rafano and I teach high school english, 3 sections of college prep seniors and 2 sections of basic english 1 for freshmen.  i focused my masters culminating project around freshman academy and stayed on with the pilot during implementation at our high school.  I have been teaching for 8 years prior to that I spend 18 years in corporate american in travel.

Thanks, Amy, for introducing yourself to everyone.  I wonder if anything from your masters culminating project would make for an interesting blog post on this network?

I work in curriculum and instruction for Chesapeake Public Schools in Chesapeake, Virginia as a coordinator for AVID; PAL (Program of Accelerated Learning), a program that helps students retained in seventh grade or earlier complete grades seven and eight in one year and start high school on time; and freshman transition.  I am excited to be part of the intial team working with our freshman transition initiative and look forward to reading about what others are doing in this area.    

Welcome, Melissa, and thanks for introducing yourself.  AVID is a wonderful program and you'll find that many of it's principles are essential to the success transition of freshmen.  Please let me know if I can help out your school system at all.  I regularly work with schools to develop freshman transition programs.  You also might want to check out my book on the topic.  Here's a link:  Thanks again for joining!

Hello!  I am currently in my first year as a high school counselor, grade 9.  I previously worked in our feeder middle school for 8 years as the counselor there.  Our high school is trying to find ways to help our freshman be more successful.  We currently have a mentorship program, and are looking at building a freshman academy setting next year.  Any input/advice would be appreciated!

Erin - welcome to a very tough job!!!  I'd love to help you out if I can.  As you look at the Academy model, you might want to check out this blog post:  I would encourage you to check out how teaming might work in your school.  This is obviously self-serving, but my book on the topic might help.  Here's a link:  If you ever want to talk to get some input/advice, just let me know.

Hello, all,

My name is Erin and I teach English in Knoxville, TN.  I have been working at my school for six years, and four years ago we embarked on a full-scale redesign in an effort to avoid reconstitution.  The redesign has been immensely successful, although a challenge every step of the way.  Currently, I am teaching in a freshman/sophomore "lower house" where I loop with my students until they move on to their junior year.  I am blessed to be working for a highly supportive, visionary administration. 

I firmly believe that our students set their paths in the 9th grade year, and that's why I'm passionate about working with these students; in the English classroom, I'm glad to have many opportunities to teach well beyond the content standards. 

I look forward to hearing about what others are trying, and I hope I can contribute some ideas as well!

Thanks for introducing yourself, Erin, and thanks for the things you shared during the workshop yesterday.  I enjoyed my time at Fulton and look forward to hearing from you about how things progress there.

Hello, My name is Brandy Thomas and I am a teacher in Fayette County, WV.  I am a special education teacher and Co-teach in freshmen classes.  I am excited to join this webpage and hope to learn from other teachers throughout the state. 

Thanks for sharing today, Brandy!


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