InTech Collegiate High School: A Legacy of Partnership and Service Creating Success for All StudentsPosted on December 12, 2013
InTech Collegiate High School isn’t your typical high school. From the outside, InTech seems like any other small charter school. However, this school has had the highest ACT scores in Cache Valley for the last three years and was designated the top high school in Utah by Newsweek and U.S. World News in 2011 (Sargsyan, 2011& U.S. News, 2013). InTech was also declared the most progressive and best performing Title 1 School by the state of Utah. But this school has a lot more to offer students than just state and national accolades. InTech continually attains high parental involvement, dedicated teachers, and high extracurricular attendance. For example, InTech consistently reaches 80% parental attendance at Parent Teacher Conference.
InTech is located in Logan, Utah on Innovation Campus near Utah State University. The groundwork for the school was laid by the first principal, Steve Zsiray, his secretary, Megan Izatt, and two AmeriCorps*VISTA members, JaDean Frehner and Theresa Burch who were sponsored by the Center for the School of the Future (CSF) at Utah State University. InTech was founded as part of Governor Leavitt’s Early College Initiative. Principal Zsiray envisioned a school that would extend the reach of STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math) education and early college experiences to populations that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields: women, first-generation college students, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and ethnic minorities.
Although InTech is a small charter school, students benefit greatly from a unique relationship with USU. For example, despite a small library, its connection and proximity to USU campus allows InTech students to have access to all of the resources in the Merrill Cazier Library at USU. InTech students are also given access to college classes, and USU helps subsidize a portion of their tuition. In some cases USU professors will personally work with students and involve them in hands-on research.
The relationship with USU has guided InTech’s threefold mission: to focus on STEM curriculum, boost early college exposure, and to recruit underrepresented populations. Students thrive at this small school where dedicated teachers spend one-on-one time with each student and stay late to provide additional support to students who are struggling. Not only do InTech’s staff members provide extra support for struggling students, the school also provides extra support and opportunity for those who have extraordinary talent in any one of the STEM focus areas.
In spite of InTech’s STEM focus, it continues to maintain percentages of underrepresented populations that are similar to or higher than those of most other schools in Cache Valley as seen in Table 1. Additionally, InTech maintains a higher number of ethnic and low SES students than other STEM schools in the state according to self-reported data.
A Focus on Underrepresented Populations in STEM
When InTech opened its doors in 2006 the student body consisted of 131 eager and excited students. Over the past seven years the student body has grown by 22%. Through targeted recruiting efforts InTech has been able to successfully honor its commitment to provide a quality STEM and early college education to a large number of students who may not traditionally have benefited from this type of educational experience.
Capacity Building through Partnerships
Of course, InTech didn’t start out this successful; it took thousands of hours and a monumental effort to complete the school in an eight month timeframe. Through the principal’s relationship with the Center for the School of the Future (CSF), he was able to recruit the service of two AmeriCorps*VISTA members. CSF serves as a sponsoring organization that places VISTA members with partner organizations on behalf of the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS). Because CSF’s mission includes providing tailored and appropriate instruction for all students and VISTA promotes education as one of its strategic areas to fight poverty, the partnership with InTech was perfect. InTech was a perfect partner. Principal Steve Zsiray was able to recruit two AmeriCorps*VISTA members to provide additional support for the project while he and his secretary accomplished the mountain of administrative tasks.
InTech wouldn’t be what it is today without the VISTA members. The building they are currently located in was nothing but steel frame and outer walls before JaDean and Teresa were given their assignments. Every aspect of the school from purchasing the carpet to buying the desks and clocks was overseen by them, but the project they say was the most difficult was finding a way for the school to feed 131 hungry teenagers. School lunch programs have to meet vigorous requirements to qualify for the Federal Government’s Free and Reduced School Lunch programs. For a school who wants to appeal to underrepresented populations, qualifying for the Free and Reduced School Lunch program is a must. One of JaDean’s chief assignments was locating a caterer who could meet all the government requirements and bring the food to the school each day at an affordable price. Teresa had to overcome challenges of her own as she was tasked with managing the new school’s website and creating newsletters that would provide an appeal for recruiting. Both VISTA members were instrumental in the recruiting process for new students as they held several community meetings and conducted numerous home-visits to interested families.
Bright Future for InTech
Under Current principal Jason Stanger and his administrative assistant, former VISTA member JaDean, the future for InTech looks promising. Despite InTech’s many successes they are continually looking for ways to improve the school. For example, they are seeking to double their current admission rates. With a larger student body, InTech hopes to move to a larger building so they can assist more students and make a greater impact. Even doubling their student body, they’ll remain small enough to easily work one on one with students. They also plan on continuing their highly attended Model UN, Science and Engineering Fairs, and Robotics class all of which they take great pride in. “InTech Collegiate High School is a wonderful place,” remarked Principal Stanger, “…we have dedicated teachers who create an environment that allows every student who walks through our door the opportunity to be successful both socially and academically.” InTech will continue their mission of providing a STEM and early college exposure focused education to students who are typically underrepresented.
Authors: Eric R. Hastings & Rikki K. Wheatley
National Center for Education Statistics. (2011a). CCD public school data 2010-
2011 school year (Cache County, InTech High). Washington, DC: Author.
Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch/school_detail.asp?
National Center for Education Statistics. (2011b). CCD public school data 2010-
2011 school year (Cache County, Sky View High). Washington, DC: Author. http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch/school_detail.asp?Search=1&SchoolID=490012000083&ID=490012000083
National Center for Education Statistics. (2011c). CCD public school data 2010-
2011 school year (Cache County, Mountain Crest High). Washington, DC: Author. http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch/school_detail.asp?Search=1&SchoolID=490012000792&ID=490012000792
National Center for Education Statistics. (2011d). CCD public school data 2010-
2011 school year (Logan, Logan High). Washington, DC: Author.
Sargsyan. S. (2011, June 24). Newsweek names intech as one of u.s. best high schools. The Herald Journal. Retrieved from http://news.hjnews.com/news/article_3ecfa23a-9dfe-11e0-b222-001cc4c03286.html
U.S. World News (2013). Education: Intech collegiate high school. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/utah/districts/intech-collegiate-high-school/intech-collegiate-high-school-20143
Utah State Office of Education. (2012). Child nutrition programs data: October 2012. Salt Lake City, UT: Author. Retrieved from from http://www.schools.utah.gov/data/Educational-Data/Child-Nutrition-Programs-Data.aspx