Starting in Fall 2021, Crenshaw High School will be implementing a new educational program that helps students apply academic subjects into real-life. The program is called 3DE, it is an interdisciplinary program that is in conjunction with Junior Achievement.
Crenshaw also offers students the College Track program, that is a resource to students during their high school and college years.
Crenshaw principal Peter Benefiel mentioned how veteran business teacher Maynard Brown was influential in implementing the program. Crenshaw is the first LAUSD school to adopt the 3DE curriculum.
Students will be involved in project-based learning; teachers will teach general education topics by relating them to a main project that the student must complete. Benefiel wants to show how lessons learned in math, english, and science is relevant beyond high school. The projects have students working with businesses; other 3DE schools have worked with Arbys, UPS, and Delta along with other companies.
The 3DE program does not cost anything to the school; they provide each school with a partnership director, who oversees the businesses that gives projects to the students, and a director of the entire program.
“I’m a big believer in project-based learning that connects the disciplines and uses the skills they want students to develop to apply them to real life situations,” Benefiel said. “It becomes relevant, becomes meaningful to students and then they can be more engaged because they see how it’s connected to life.”
During this current school year, teachers at Crenshaw have been preparing for the 3DE curriculum. They also got a chance to interact with other 3DE teachers.
“We’ve had panels with students as well who were in schools that were 3DE schools,” Benefiel said. “The theme that runs throughout is that it really just shifts the culture and the level of engagement of the students and the motivation levels.”
College Track is a program that provides mentorship and support to students for a span of 10 years, beginning in ninth grade. Crenshaw offered this program to select ninth graders this year.
“[Students] basically get support with tutoring, they’ll be able to work with financial aid systems, community building,” Benefiel said. “One of the unique things about College Track is that they also work and support the students through college as well.”
Both programs promote cohorting students, which is when students work together in a group to complete assignments. Benefiel noted that through cohorts, students can assist each other in overcoming challenges.
“I’ve actually learned in my time as a principal is cohorts are very important,” Benefiel said. “We need to support each other, so cohorting students … it helps with students being more successful.”
While students have to meet a certain criteria to join College Track, the college center at Crenshaw also offers post-secondary education resources for all students.
Benefiel wants Crenshaw to be on the cutting edge. Crenshaw is currently in the finishing stages of building their state-of-the-are performing arts center and auditorium along with pioneering the 3DE program in LAUSD.
Crenshaw has many accomplishments throughout its history and Benefiel wants to add on to the school’s legacy.
“I’m always thinking about the students first and how we can provide the best education possible,” he said. “With this shift with 3DE that’s gonna happen, that to me is a manifestation of the vision I’ve always had for all the students I’ve ever served in 25 years with the district.”