The Nitty Gritty of Adding New Courses

Colvin Abdulkader

A question thought of by many students is, “How are the courses for Overbrook picked?” I thought the same question many times and wondered how and if students could influence the courses that were chosen. There are many possible new courses that could be added: languages like French or German, skills like culinary arts and journalism, or miscellaneous ones like video game design or pottery. In order to find out the solution to this essential question, I went to the one in charge of the school, Principal Adam Lee. I held an interview with him, and the following are all of the questions and answers are given in the interview. 


Question One: Do you know what factors contribute to choosing the courses added to the school?


Answer: Unfortunately, this first question was not recorded, but Mr. Lee’s answer consisted of the weight of student interest and how it is one of the main backbones of adding new courses. Aside from that, state requirements obviously need to be a part of the course list, and on the other side of that coin, the question of if a course is needed. Mr. Lee also made it important to know that teacher comfortability is also necessary when a course is being evaluated for addition. 


Question Two: Can you give us an idea of potential courses we could get in the future?


Answer: Although there aren’t many currently planned, two outliers that are plotted to happen soon are an Italian and German language course. The reason why there have not been many language courses added is that “finding teachers of foreign languages is really hard, people just don’t go to college for that” according to Mr. Lee. Going into more depth, he shouts out the great work of all our Spanish teachers and Mrs. Delucas with their teaching and tells how hard finding a foreign language teacher really is. Through a follow-up email, Mr Lee confirmed that the German class is coming to Overbrook next year, with a teacher already hired and assigned to the class.


Question Three: We only have two foreign language courses being Spanish and American Sign Language; knowing how important learning different languages are, are there any planned additions to foreign languages in the near future?


Answer: Almost reading my mind, Mr. Lee restates what he answered in the last question. However, he goes on to say the reason for the delay for an Italian language course: “It’s hard to find a teacher… we want somebody that’s going to be really good for the kids for the school”. To add to this, he points out that there are online language courses available for students that want to learn a specific language. Mr. Lee advises talking to your counselor if you are interested in taking one of these courses.


Question Four: Would student surveys influence new courses added?


Answer: Mr. Lee starts off by saying, “For me, student input is more important than anything else”, and continues by explaining that other factors contribute to adding courses as well. Not only do teacher salaries affect hiring many teachers, but also scheduling issues arise when there are too many classes trying to be taken up and not enough teachers going around to teach those classes. He finishes the answer by proclaiming “If it weren’t for [these issues], I would have all the classes in the world”.


Question Five: How has Coronavirus affected new course choices?


Answer: Although an issue for scheduling classes and getting students together, Coronavirus has not affected any course choices for this school year. Mr. Lee is hopeful that next year’s courses are also unaffected by Coronavirus, and that the new courses receive great student interest so they can thrive. Mr. Lee also gives a deeper insight into how much student interest means to him in both school and his personal past. “I was a terrible student in high school, and the reason I was not a good student in high school was because I wasn’t able to take classes that were interesting to me. Student interest to me is everything. By the time I got to college, I excelled academically because I was into history, and the large majority of the classes that I was able to take was history classes.” Aside from being a neat backstory, Mr. Lee wants everyone to know that student interest is what mainly drives choices that are made for courses and other changes to the school. 


Question Six: What is your opinion on the new courses available next year?


Answer: The new science classes and teachers for this school year are phenomenal according to Mr. Lee. He attributes a lot of that success to Mrs. Zelinski, a former teacher who is now a STEAM Supervisor, who works with the science department to make a cohesive progression of science classes a student would take and some courses that are needed for certain careers. He is excited to see the interest in the new classes like Marine Biology and Zoology. 


Question Seven: How important is creating new courses in terms of priority for the school?


Answer: Coming to 3rd or 4th on the list of priorities, creating new courses is not too high up there for Overbrook. The top priority for Mr. Lee is “constantly helping teachers be better instructors in the classroom. That’s my top priority: making sure teachers are doing things in class that are relevant to the student and getting [them] interested in doing things.” He wants students to be invested and interested in what they are learning so that they are excited for every new school day. 


Final Question: What do you want to see as the future of Overbrook course selection?


Answer: “The most important thing for me is that students have the ability to choose classes that are going to propel them in their life after high school”, Mr. Lee says. Although there are required state courses, Mr. Lee wants to have it so students find their interests and are able to explore them in the best way possible. That is what he finds to be one of the most important things for all students to be able to experience at Overbrook. 


Overall, Mr. Lee wants comfort for all teachers and students, making sure that everyone feels safe in the school and that their individual futures are being laid out the way they want it. He loves feedback from students, teachers, and parents, and always makes sure to put what they say into consideration for future changes. Mr. Lee wants you to make your voice and opinions heard; after all, what you suggest could be the next vital change to Overbrook’s way of life.