The explosion of AP classes at Potosi High School in the last five years has given students new opportunities to take more difficult classes and prepare them for college. Potosi has gone from one AP class five years ago to many more, including AP Calc, AP Economics, and Advanced Chem, just to name a few. The AP classes have not only helped the students, but the teachers too. They get an opportunity to teach another class out of their regular classes, and they get to learn new and creative ideas on how to teach an AP class while teaching it. 

AP stands for advanced placement and is a college level class that high schoolers can take. Students have to take a test and get a certain score on the test to earn a college credit. Teachers have to be qualified to teach the class by having the right degree. AP classes tend to go through units and lessons faster than normal classes. They also have a heavier workload, so students who want to be challenged or want a college credit tend to take these classes. The students do have to pay for the test this year but, sometimes the school will pay a portion of it or all of it in certain situations. The test fees are normally around 95dollars. These tests usually take place at the end of the school year in May. The AP classes offered at our school are AP Calculus, AP Literature, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Economics, and AP Computer Science.  

Mrs. Cohen, who has been teaching AP Calculus for six years, explains what she learned.She not only wants to learn more from this class, but help the kids and make sure they’re prepared for college. “I think for the STEM kids, it’s a great opportunity to take that first low college class. Kids can get that college credit, but for me it’s more important that they get that exposure so they’re quite successful when they get to the college level.” 

The good thing for her was that she didn’t have to go through a big hassle to get the AP class approved because it already was. She just had to be qualified, which she was too because she had been teaching for six years before this year. She was dedicated to helping the students out. She even took some time out of her summer to learn more about AP and how to teach it. “I learned some things with the AP classroom and attended a week-long seminar at UW-Madison about the ins and outs of the AP Calc program.I have a deeper understanding of calculus in general now than I have before since I went to that seminar. I strive to find applied ways to do AP Calc material and how it is taught at a university.” 

This helps her evolve and tweak her teaching style to what works for her and her students. Clearly she is dedicated to making herself better, to help the AP students, and to further help herself in teaching the class. She went to the week-long seminar because she has to teach AP Calc differently than her other classes. “I have higher expectations of previous material, like if you don’t know things you should know from algebra 1 or algebra 2, I expect them to go back and teach themselves versus waiting and trying to reteach them, which is how I teach my other classes. It’s much more test related for grades. In my lower levels I give more points for homework and notes.” Mrs. Cohen is one of the few AP teachers that we have at Potosi, but she works hard to make sure her students get something from the class and are ready for college. 

Another AP teacher is Mr. Lynn, who has been teaching AP Economics for four years and AP Computer Science for two years. “I offer AP Economics for a couple different reasons. First of all, I just really love economics. Second, I think it’s important for students to have access to more classes at the AP level. This is the same with AP Computer Science. If they’re going into an increasingly challenging job environment, then having AP classes will help them. I also offer these in particular because they’re the most in line with what I currently teach. I could teach AP History but I don’t have enough time in my schedule to teach it.” He offers one more AP class than the other teachers, which opens up opportunities for students. He doesn't just offer these because he is qualified and can; he offers them for the students. 

“I showed the school board that I did have the materials ready to go. I also went to a week-long AP Economics seminar in Indianapolis over the summer a couple years ago. I find AP classes important enough that I gave up a week of my summer to learn more about one of my AP classes.”  He obviously wants the AP classes for the students to help them succeed. He makes sure he works hard to give his students a great opportunity to learn and prepare for college. The thing he really has to focus on is teaching his AP classes differently than his regular classes because those AP classes are at a higher level and are harder. 

“In my AP classes there are a lot more direct instructions that I have to give because there’s a lot more information that I have to give; however in other aspects I’m more nice in my AP classes than my other classes. In terms of like, I can relax some of the guidelines that I give my other classes.” He knows that the kids in AP classes are up to the challenge, are respectful, and know the rules. Even though these are his expectations for AP classes and how he teaches those classes, he still teaches each AP class differently. 

“AP Economics is a bigger class than AP Computer Science, because AP Computer Science is an independent class. AP Computer Science is a class for students who took my Intro to Computer Science class and enjoyed it enough to do it at a higher level. I give them an AP Computer Science course that I have through Amazon so this class is mostly self taught. AP Economics is a more directly involved class that I teach to the students.” He teaches two AP classes but could teach three if he had the time. This would not only open opportunities for students, but for Mr.Lynn too. He has had more opportunities to learn how to teach AP classes and just learn in general.

“I think AP first helped me learn about student motivation. I credit AP with helping me relate to students. AP is one of the classes I teach where I can communicate with other teachers. I communicate with other AP teachers in our building, even though it’s different subjects, but it’s still AP material.” Mr. Lynn has to get students interested in the AP subject with one of his regular classes that he teaches, so then he can get more students in his AP classes. He has to find out how and why these students like these courses to get them interested. 

Kami Weber and Blake Hanfield, who are two Potosi High School seniors taking AP Economics, share a perspective about their AP classes. “We basically said, ‘why not take an AP class?’ It could potentially give us some college credits along with the high school credits,” explained Kami. Just because they said ‘why not’ to taking an AP class doesn’t mean that they expected the class to be easy or the workload to be manageable. 

Blake explains, “I thought AP Economics would’ve been difficult at the start with a lot of homework, but it actually turned out to be easier than I thought. The work is about what I expected or even a little more. The AP teachers, however, are very understanding of the time that it takes to understand the work and to complete it. They do give harder work but they also, in a sense, they don’t go as hard on you.” Kami explained it as, “I knew it would be hard and have a lot of homework, which it is, but the workload was a little more than I expected like Blake said.” Kami is struggling to understand the material sometimes, but is still able to do well in the class, whereas Blake is not struggling in this class, but the workload is a lot for him. 

Logan Upenna is another senior who takes an AP class but he doesn’t take AP Economics. He takes AP Calculus as his only AP class. He describes why he takes AP Calc: “It’s the next class I have to take since I had Pre-Calc last year. I would not be challenged if I took tech math instead of AP Calc. It would also be cool to get college credits.”

He mentioned he wants to have a class that challenges him . “It challenges me because I get a lot of homework in it and it’s hard to finish the homework on time. I have AP Calc homework alongside every other class I take.” 

He didn’t want to over-stretch himself by taking too many challenging classes and constantly being behind. This is unfortunate for him as he still has other AP classes he wanted to take, but couldn’t. “Yeah, I feel like there’s a couple classes I would like to take, like AP Environmental Science and AP Lit. I can’t take them because my schedule is full. I’m not too mad about it though because I have other classes that I have a heavy workload in.”

In such a small school it is hard to get every AP class that can be taught, but our school still has options to choose from. Four years ago our school had one AP class, but now it has grown, with new teachers coming in over those past four years who are qualified to teach AP classes. Adding those classes to our school is a huge opportunity for the students. They have more options to choose from when it comes to challenging classes, and they have more opportunities to gain college credits. There are other advantages to being in a small school and having this amount of AP classes too. Teachers have less students in a class which means they can help you more individually. Potosi students that have a lot of AP classes on their transcripts have a better chance to get accepted into colleges.