In the spring of 2014, a team of Kingsport City School leaders and administrators met to conceptualize an innovative course of action to meet the needs of the 21st century learner. This team worked to create a vision that embraced the ideas of virtual and blended learning, engaging and relevant digital content, robust instructional technology, powerful data analytics, and the importance of teacher/student relationships that would support a learning environment that emphasized personalized learning.
This vision was implemented in the fall of 2014 with the opening of DB-EXCEL (Excellence in a Creative Environment for Learning). From its initial stages, the program included an intentional focus on professional learning and a continuous process of reflective evaluation. These mindsets extend throughout the entire school as a defined focus for both students and staff. The fabric of DB-EXCEL is woven with a thread of personalized education experiences for all that support student success in college and career.
DB-EXCEL is a program of choice for Dobyns-Bennett main campus students in grades 9-12. Through an engaging curriculum and an innovative, supportive culture, students EXCEL in a student-focused,world-class environment. In January of 2017, we moved in to a new facility that accommodates our growing program and continued support a 21st century learning environment focused on competency-based learning and project-based opportunities for our students.
The biggest challenge we have faced in developing a blended learning program is identifying the blended model that meets the needs of our students and ensuring that the focus is on learning and not just gaining credits.
Start with a vision that includes your organization's guiding tenets and research-based evidence. From that, develop your instructional initiatives that will support you in designing a model that aligns with the goals of your district and supports the needs of your students. Once you have implemented your vision, re-evaluate where you are every 6 months or so to see your growth as well as to plan for the next steps in growing.
1. Identifying teacher strengths and empowering them to leverage their strengths by working together to lead a program that personalizes learning for all students. This is important because our staff is small. In order to meet our vision, we have to reply on each other's strengths in order to do the work. Once we identify the strengths in each other, is becomes easier to identify the strengths in our students.
2. Establishing and supporting a culture of innovation and risk-taking for administrators, teachers and students. This is important because in order for people to innovate and risk take, they have to feel a sense of safety and support.
D-B EXCEL is a program of choice for high school students in Kingsport City Schools. Through an engaging curriculum and an innovative, supportive culture, students excel in a student-focused, world-class environment. The philosophy, design, and structure of the program currently allow for three personalized learning paths: virtual, blended and combination.
Virtual students will complete their course of study at home. Offering virtual classes allows students more options in their learning path and provides them with versatility to work at a highly personalized pace.
Blended-learning students will complete their coursework on the DBE campus. This format provides the highest level of support while still providing a hands-on approach to learning and an opportunity to build meaningful connections with teachers, other students, and the community.
Combination students will complete their coursework partially at home and partially at the DBE campus. This format will provide the opportunity for students to experience a hands-on approach to learning and an opportunity to build meaningful connections with teachers, students, and the community with additional supports to maximize flexibility.
Contact: Shanna Hensley
Contact Title: Principal
Kingsport City Schools- D-B EXCEL
400 Clinchfield Street Suite 220