PPHS School Culture: A Student's Experience with Innovation & Collaboration during eLearning

by PPHS Student Sarah Winters

If you had told me where I would be in a year on this date last year, I would have most likely laughed in your face. At this point last year, I was finishing the semester, arranging holiday plans with my fellow classmates, and handing out gifts to my teachers. Today as a senior, I am sitting here in pajama pants and a sweatshirt, attending online calls and doing my work from home. I don’t leave the house often, I can’t make plans with friends and I won’t be able to see my teachers again until 2021. Although school has changed a lot physically for my peers and me, Purdue Polytechnic is still supporting its students and meeting its fundamental values, just in an altered way. 

In 8th grade, I was presented the option of continuing my education at my current school or coming to PPHS. Although not an easy decision, I eventually decided PPHS would challenge me and help me develop my education more than my old school could. I remember my first day coming to PPHS, all the students sitting in “The Gem” in our old school residence, The Union building. Coach Ward stood in front of us and welcomed the first class of PPHS, going on to state our three core values that shape our school; communication, collaboration, and innovation. Although we all may not be in the same building for now, PPHS staff communicate with their students regularly through PLC meetings, passion projects, office hours, and scheduled google hangout meetings. Whether you need help on an assignment or need someone to talk to, staff continuously are making adjustments to fit student’s needs and help make the transition to e-learning easier. 

Through e-learning, collaboration has become increasingly difficult between staff and students, however, many PPHS teachers have adjusted their curriculum and teaching styles to accommodate these unpredictable changes. For example, Coach Gregg is now holding half-day workshops on Wednesdays for any student who would like to participate in learning new techniques and creating new projects. Another example is staff creating a daily “Smile Session” for students to attend in the mornings, the meeting being an opportunity to meditate and start the day off in a positive way. PLCs are further collaborating through our school-wide PLC Olympics that offers the students an opportunity to collaborate with their peers and other PLCs through fun activities. 

Despite being online, students and staff are still participating in innovation inside and outside of the classroom. Being in online meetings can be difficult for a student to communicate with teachers or ask questions. However, with new updates on Google Hangouts, students can raise their hand virtually to ask questions or use the chat feature. Teachers also now have access to creating jam boards and polls in class for students to have a more interactive way of learning. PPHS students can now also make sure their attendance is marked, even if they are late, through our new “Late Submission” attendance tracker. 

Although we may feel overwhelmed and isolated from our teachers, classmates, and overall school culture sometimes, PPHS is still pursuing its students' education, just in new ways. And as 2020 is coming to a close, on behalf of the student body, I would like to express my gratitude to our amazing administrators and staff who work tirelessly to meet students’ needs and adapt to new challenges every day. As for my peers, I know this is not how you pictured your year going, whether you are a senior or a freshman, however, I want to thank you for trying your best to adapt to changes and continuing your education in such strange circumstances. 2021 holds new projects and new opportunities for staff and students alike, and I can not wait to see what the future of PPHS entails. 


Published on 1/22/2021