Senior Signing Day

I was blessed as a teacher at New Tech Academy to have great colleagues.  One of them, Scott Brown, and I stumbled upon YES Prep’s Senior Signing Day.  We were moved and decided to replicate it at our school.  It was an amazing experience for staff and students alike.

Fast forward to today.  Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative has challenged schools around the country to continue to help ALL students reach their potential and pursue knowledge and growth after high school.  Today at New Tech High in Napa, CA, we celebrated our first Senior Signing Day.  We had over 30 students publicly pledge their commitment to the university or branch of the armed forces.


We believe that Senior Signing Day does two things:

  • It celebrates the success and perseverance of 4 years of high school
  • It sets a pathway and goal for underclassmen to strive for

The college application process is one of the most stressful experiences for any one person.  Filled with indecision, nerves, and fear, it can cripple the most successful students.  It also brings tears, joy, and the feeling of emptiness waiting for the acceptance letters.  Today’s Senior Signing Day allowed us to grab that process by the horns and celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2016.  It also created a benchmark for all underclassmen to strive for.  “Where do I start?  What questions do I have?  What do I have to do to get in there? Who do I talk to?” were some of the questions I heard posed after the event.  Now that is a cause worth celebrating.


Note: Please see here for a list of all the students that participated and the schools they have committed to. 


Redefining the Portfolio Experience

Portfolio’s in education are not a new concept.  The same thing can be said about the role of the portfolio here at New Tech High.  For many schools, pulling off a successful digital portfolio program can be a daunting task.  Over the course of time, New Tech High’s had grown to become a place for students to demonstrate proficiency and mastery in our school wide learning outcomes (oral communication, collaboration, etc.).  However, it was clear that something was missing.  For many students, portfolio become a box to check.

In working with students, the New Tech High staff began exploring what the goals of a portfolio were for our school.  We wanted it to be meaningful.  We wanted it to be reflective.  We wanted it to be holistic.  We wanted it to have longevity.


It is with this that I am excited to announce we have official rolled out the NEW version of portfolio at New Tech High.  Now it isn’t anything earth-shattering, but it’s a big shift for us, moving from a static web design to a blog as portfolio model.

Now, there is plenty of research that supports the use of blogs in education and in professional work.  Our portfolio task force (led by Lisa Gottfried and Andrew Biggs) was a group of students that got their hands dirty with the redesign.  They realized that by blogging, our portfolio could be a holistic 4 year journey for students.  The new blog as portfolio will allow students to highlight and reflect upon their work in:

  • Project and culminating event work
  • Developing school wide learning outcomes.
  • School and community service.
  • College classes and the college going process.
  • Internship and work-based learning.
  • Senior Project.
  • Personal passions and more.

Through scheduled blogging time and real time reflections, our portfolio experience will move from a static target to a 4 year journey.  The hope would be that students take a hold of their digital footprint and have a tool that they can truly use post-high school. The “I Can Statements” will help guide the way.


Current Seniors and Juniors that have not passed the old version have the opportunity to finish it or move to the new version.

We haven’t quite landed on an exhibition platform yet.  We envision that Open House or a Portfolio Showcase Night will be utilized in the future so students can share their work with families, friends, and community partners. We are excited to take a step into this new journey with our students.