Junior Seminar


Ryder Wells

Joe Baffoe leads one junior seminar class through SAT prep.

Ryder Wells, Staff Writer

TELLURIDE — Junior Seminar is a class offered at THS to help prepare kids for the SAT and beyond.  It is a unique course required for all juniors to take.  Students are divided into three groups and receive instruction from one of three teachers every two weeks, and then they rotate.  For example, group C started with college prep, followed by SAT math prep and finished with SAT English prep before restarting the rotation again.  

To get a better idea of the course, THS Today sat down with each of the three teachers.

Laurel Henderson, who also teaches journalism, is the SAT English prep instructor.

Question: “Who all is teaching the class?”

Henderson: “Joe Baffoe, David Lavender, and myself.”

Q: “What is one thing that you want to accomplish more than anything with the students?”

H: “I’m doing SAT Prep for the writing and reading portions, as well as the vocabulary. So it’s lots of practice tests and reviewing grammar.” 

Q: “What is the most useful part for students?”

H: “I think the SAT is a complicated test that gets easier with practice. So I think this will be a useful class that helps kids get better scores.

THS Today also spoke with David Lavender, who teaches college prep and helps organize the class. 

Question: “You mentioned in the preps that many schools don’t have a class like this. What was the idea behind making it and what is its history?”

Lavender: “It’s been around for a long time. It was originally prepping for the state mandated SAT. It was originally just 2 teachers. Math and English. But now we have college prep. It’s been [offered] around 15 years.”

Q: “Was there any way you choose the groups i.e. SAT scores, or was it random?”

L: “Tt’s grouped by PSAT scores.”

Q: “How is it different from teaching other classes?”

L: “It’s not much different. For me, it’s like a preview of senior seminar. It’s a support class, not really instructing new content. It’s reviewing basic principles. It differs in that it’s not a lot of new stuff: more review. The sores are important for both students and the school.”

Q: “What is one thing that you want to accomplish more than anything with the students?”

L: “I want to demystify and destress the college application  process.” 

Q: “How will the class change after the SAT?”

A: “For me, it won’t. We’ll still be working on college application essays. For other classes, we may look at the ACT, and some class time will be essentially tutorial time.” 

Joe Baffoe is teaching math prep.

Question: “What can kids expect?”

Baffoe: “For the math section we review the fundamentals of geometry and the statistics for the SAT. I’m going to focus on statistics because most [Juniors] haven’t taken it yet.”  

Q: “How is it organized?”

B:  “I’m organizing by content. So we’ll work on different parts of algebra, geometry, and statistics on the test. As well as some science stuff that pops up.” 

Q: “What is one thing that you want to accomplish more than anything with the students?”

B:  “I want to help students with their critical thinking and reasoning skills. As that is ultimately what the test covers.”

Q: “What is the most useful part for students?”

B:  “Being exposed to many different types of problems while learning test-taking strategies.”

Q: How is it different from teaching other classes?”

B: “The big difference is that we have to study a lot of content instead of focusing on a specific area. You focus on lots of math. It’s kind of like a sampler.”