Noble High School and
An Overview by Brittany Dyer
RSU# 60 Case Manager and Special Education Teacher
The Big Question
Why did Noble High School
decide to stop using teams that
allow students to be with different
peers every year and start putting
students in academies to stay with
that group of students all 4 years of
What is Teaming?
Teaming is when teachers teaching diﬀerent subjects
work together in one community to develop
curriculum, plan, and instruct. This is to give a small
group feeling to students. It is also a great way to share
resources and create strong support systems (Clark,
What You Need to Know
Teaming allows teachers to work together to create
educational experiences that meet the individual
needs of their students. The students are beneﬁted
because it indirectly inﬂuences their academics, and
directly inﬂuences their social development. The
teachers are beneﬁted because they have strong
collaboration with other teachers. They are able to
bounce ideas oﬀ of each other, while having a better
professional development experience (Clark, 1997).
A study in 2004 of 77
students from 3 diﬀerent
middle schools showed that,
when asked about their
perception of teaming,
“students felt like trusted
members of a community” and
that they were “growing in
conﬁdence, independence, and
tolerance, gaining leadership
and collaborative skills, and
belonging to a family” ( Boyer,
Why the Interest?
When I was at Noble High School as a student,
the school was split up into several teams for each
Freshman: White, Maroon, and Grey (based on
Sophomore: Team 1, Team 2, and Team 3
Juniors and Seniors: House 1, House 2, and
House 3 (stayed on same team for junior and
Students did not stay with the same group of
kids freshman year to sophomore year, and
sophomore year to junior year. However, they did
stay on the same team for their junior and senior
❖ When I came back 4 years later in 2008 to work as an ed.
tech, the teams were split up into academies. These
academies have their own separate deans, instead of just 1
principal and 2 vice principals for the whole school. The
students stay in this academy, with the same students, all 4
❖ Academy I: White Team as Freshman, Team 1 as
sophomores, and House 1 as juniors and seniors
❖ Academy II: Grey Team as Freshman, Team 2 as
sophomores, and House II as juniors and seniors
❖ Academy III: Maroon Team as Freshman, Team II as
sophomores, and House III as juniors and seniors.
❖ There are also several teams at Noble that are not included
❖ Team 4: students in special education needing hands on
❖ Alt./CHOICES: alternative education team for students
in regular and special education, providing structure,
extra support, and discipline
❖ Team 5: behavior classroom for students having major
behavior problems and are in special education
❖ Exceptional Studies: students with severe emotional,
learning, and/or physical disabilities
Why Did Noble Want to
The teachers and administrators were
concerned that information of students was
not getting passed oﬀ from teacher to teacher.
Teachers were getting diﬀerent students
who learned diﬀerent things from the year
One principal and 1 vice principal were
dealing with disciplinary problems, and follow
through was in-aﬀective (RSU #60
Professional Development Center
Coordinator, February 21, 2010).
Making It Happen
Noble applied for a small school grant
from the Gate’s Foundation. They give
money nation wide to mostly inner city
At the time, big schools were breaking
up into smaller schools. Noble did not
want to do that because it would mean that
all students wouldn’t have resources
available to them. However, they did want
a big high school with the learning
experience of being in a small high school
(RSU #60 Professional Development
Center Coordinator, February 20, 2010).
How was the Plan
The Principal of Noble at the time was trying to ﬁgure out a
way to make the school feel like small schools within one big
building. He had looked at some models at other schools within
the area and used some of the ideas he got from a trip to
Thorton Academy towards his planning. By using some of these
ideas from diﬀerent schools, he combined ideas to develop
academies. In these academies students stay with the same
students and support staﬀ (guidance and deans) all four years of
high school in a central area of the building (Noble Assistant
Principal, February 24, 2010).
“We went to visit some schools that had diﬀerent themes in the
Boston area before going to academies. The idea, while we were
in the research stage, was to have 3 academies with diﬀerent
“themes” or strengths that addressed diﬀerent learning styles. I
think in the end, that people were worried that the schools
would compete, not have equal educational experiences, and it
wasn’t practical because all the academies had to share common
resources: library, art, cafe etc” (Noble Special Education
Teacher, February 17, 2010).
Making the Academy:
Who’s Who? four math
teacher for each core class in each grade (usually
teachers, four english teachers, three history teachers, and four
❖ two special education teachers/case managers
❖ similar guidance staﬀ for majority of students
❖ one Dean
❖ roughly 60-80 students per each grade level
❖ pod or suite like classroom setup
❖ Note: non mainstream classes share deans and guidance counselors
with other academies.
Deans and Discipline
When the new high school opened in September
2001, the school had 1 principal and 2 assistant principals
who dealt with discipline. This made it very hard for the
2 assistant principals to follow through, and didn’t allow
for relationships with smaller groups of kids.
In 2003, the principal decided on 1 assistant principal
with 3 deans assigned to “academies”. This was not
working well, because the academies were not aligned in
the same section of building. Therefore, the deans were
running from place to place.
In 2004, the principal decided on having vertically
aligned academies in the same section of the school with
a dean in each academy. This allows for the deans to be in
1 section of the building, but more importantly, allows
the deans to get to know the students better (Noble
Assistant Principal, February 24, 2010).
The Academy Dynamics
❖ Each academy consists of 4 “pods”: 2 adjacent pods down stairs for freshman
and sophomores, and two adjacent pods upstairs for juniors and seniors, directly
above the underclassmen pods. There is a staircase right outside of the pod to
lead to the other communities within the academy.
❖ Team teachers must meet once a week for 80 minutes for professional
development, student consultation, and curriculum review.
❖ Teachers share information from teacher to teacher. There are 2 speciﬁc people
connected to the academy for special education and a speciﬁc dean and
❖ Students stay in academy all 4 years of high school with same group of students,
unless they are moved based on an IEP or school conﬂict.
A community room with 4 surrounding
classrooms and a teacher oﬃce. There is a pod for
each team/grade within the academy
-consistent grouping of kids getting to
know each other
-teachers know student strengths.
-easier to pass along student
information and previous knowledge
(PDC Coordinator, February 20, 2010)
-high rate of class attendance
-lower drop out rates
-higher test scores
(Noble Dean, February 20, 2010)
❖ The data consists of the years Noble has been in the new building. It is broken
up into 3 sections: when there were 2 assistant principals with no academies,
when there were 2 assistant principals with 3 deans, and the current set up with
vertically aligned academies.
❖ Days of in school suspension we stopped doing this in 2009. The numbers had
gone up until we got deans, and then they started dropping.
❖ Days of out of school suspension dramatically dropped when deans were added.
❖ Days Absent dropped after deans were added, with exception of 06-07.
❖ Class Cuts dropped dramatically since addition of vertically aligned academies.
❖ Inappropriate Language dramatically dropped since addition of vertically
❖ Therefore, students are improving in attendance and are getting in trouble less.
According to the PDC
Coordinator at Noble High
School, there were no
complaints from a single staﬀ
member. In fact, she said that
this was the ﬁrst school decision
that everyone was on board for
This was an amazing experience in which I got to
learn a lot about my school district. I want to thank
all of my co workers for being so generous with their
time and information. Because of their support, I
was able to learn a lot more about the academies
than I was expecting.
Boyer, S. J., & Bishop, P. A. (2004). Young adolescent voices: Students' perceptions of
interdisciplinary teaming. Research in Middle Level Education Online, 28(1). Retrieved
Clark, S. N.(1997). Exploring the possibilities of interdisciplinary teaming. Childhood
Education, 73. Retrieved from
Noble High School. (2010). Yearly nhs indicators. Retrieved from Noble Assistant Principal
All Photos were taken personally by Brittany
Dyer with the permission of Noble High School.