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New CAS director full of ambition in is first year

October 5, 2021

As of this year, Theory of Knowledge (TOK) teacher Shane Thomas has taken the position of CAS coordinator, a core component of the IB program. Mrs. Andrus and Mr. Thomas have restructured the roles of CAS coordinator to use half the day as CAS preparation and the other half teaching TOK. 

CAS stands for creativity, activity, and service, and it’s meant to be a counterbalance to the academic rigor of the program. 

“The spirit of IB is to develop well rounded global persons” Thomas said. One of the things IB has recognized is that there’s more to a well-rounded human being than just their academic achievement, and he explained that CAS was created because of it. 

“It’s supposed to be engaging in a process called experiential learning. You do plenty of academic planning, but in what other ways can you learn and grow? [CAS] is things you’re already doing where are you bring awareness to the growth that’s already happening. It’s also things where are you stretch yourself a little bit into areas and experiences that you normally wouldn’t engage in to grow in new ways” Thomas said. 

He’s proud of being able to create that teaching opportunity, revamping technology, and connecting with local organizations to give his students CAS opportunities so far, and he has several exciting goals for the future. 

“I’m really excited about making some inroads into the local community, like having connections with local universities, organizations and nonprofits, in order to provide students with opportunities to have meaningful experiences [besides] what they are doing at home or at school.” 

Another goal is to work on core integration in regular subjects. He wants to work with teachers on being intentional about communicating the relationship between their classes and the core parts of IB. 

He still striving to create a network of connections for CAS students, so they can stop spending time trying to find CAS experiences and spend more time doing them. 

“The community aspect is something I’m trying to develop more. I’m really trying to get students to think about CAS differently. In the past, I feel like it’s sort of been seen as one more thing. I don’t want it to be an add-on, I’m trying to make it something that students enjoy that you can embrace for what it’s suppose to be about.” 

Thomas wants to eventually have a CAS fair, similar to a college fair, where different organizations could set up in the school courtyard at booths for IB students to walk through to learn about different volunteer opportunities. 

Thomas wants IB students, AP, Honors and on-level students to connect more. In order to do that, he thinks there needs to be more interaction between all the students. “I want to IB to be seen as more of a part of Central than it currently is.” 

His hope is that in the future CAS can bring positive attention to OPS, highlighting amazing students who do remarkable things. He also believes that CAS has the potential to increase internal school pride.  

On a larger scale, he hopes that CAS can spark a culture of community in our society. “Instilling in people in any way a sense of obligation towards the greater good is huge, and CAS can be about that.” 

Thomas is so passionate about the success and evolution of CAS, because he is disappointed in the American education system. “I felt for a long time developing well-rounded students involved a lot more than just giving them busy work to do.” 

When given the opportunity to be the coordinator for CAS, he was very excited, because the mission of CAS aligned with his passion for teaching. 

 “I want kids to be involved in things that are meaningful to them that’s outside of purely academic rigor…we don’t go in this direction enough in education.” 

Ultimately, Thomas’s ideal success is for CAS it’s for it to be self-sustaining as an impactful, vital part of the IB experience. 

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    Fredward GibsonDec 17, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    Mr. Thomas is a god