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New supervisor looks to strengthen course offerings

March 03, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Education's new supervisor of secondary social studies is spearheading efforts to strengthen course offerings for local students.

Clyde Harrell plans to increase the number of advanced placement courses for high-achieving high school students interested in U.S. and European history, psychology and government, he said.

He said he also wants to launch an International Baccalaureate program for high school students and develop an honors social studies program for middle school pupils.

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"I think we want to offer Washington County kids the best curriculum possible to get them ready for college," said Harrell, who started his job at the school board in December.

He replaced longtime secondary social studies supervisor Ed Koogle, who retired last June. Like Koogle, Harrell also serves as adviser for the Washington County Association of Student Councils.

"It certainly is a lot of fun to work with the students, but it's their thing," said Harrell, 48, of Berryville, Va. "I want the students to do the work."

And Harrell's desire to challenge motivated students - and their teachers - is rooted in the classroom.

He is working to expand advanced placement programs in high schools throughout the county, he said. Harrell hopes by next year to offer AP government, psychology and U.S. history courses in three more schools and AP European history courses in one more school, he said.

"I think it's a good way for motivated students to have a strong junior and senior year," Harrell said.

He also wants to establish an International Baccalaureate Diploma program in Washington County. The program is a rigorous two-year course of study for students ages 16 to 19.

In addition to taking a mix of standard-level (150-hour) and higher-level (240-hour) courses in six subject areas - first language, second language, individuals and societies, experimental sciences, mathematics and computer science and the arts - diploma candidates must develop their critical thinking skills, write a thesis paper and complete community service work, according to the International Baccalaureate Organization Web site.

The highly respected IB diploma can be a passport to universities worldwide, the Web site states.

Harrell said the program would mesh well with Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan's vision for "world-class education" in Washington County.

Funding may pose the biggest threat to the success of the International Baccalaureate and other new programs - but Harrell is prepared to jump the fiscal hurdle.

Harrell spent the past seven years as a high school principal in Clarke County, Va., and has worked as an assistant principal and teacher in Loudoun County, Va. He holds bachelor's degrees in history and psychology, a master's degree in administrative supervision and a doctorate in educational leadership.

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