High, middle schools will adopt block schedule this fall

Students and faculty at Northeastern Middle and High schools will be adjusting to a new class schedule next semester.

The schools are adopting a block schedule. Rather than having seven or eight class periods a day with subjects repeating daily in the same time period, the block schedule will have four daily class periods. Each subject will meet every other day.

Principals Kelly Plank of the middle school and John Markward of the high school explained the program to the school board on Feb. 15. Superintendent Matthew Hicks said the school corporation will be working to help teachers to adapt to the new schedule.

Markward said that class periods are short enough now that students may not have time to ask questions about things they don’t understand. The new format will enable teachers to provide more individual help and allow the school to break up classes with large enrollments into more sections.

At the middle school, the current schedule does not allow some students to enroll in band or choir, Plank said. The block schedule would alleviate that.

The schedule will include student resource time – SRT, an enhanced study hall — during which students will have time to meet with their teachers. In schools with block schedules, most students do their homework assignments during those times, having time to consult with their instructors.

“I think that once the students see what they get out of it, they will be excited,” Markward said.

But, he admits, some teachers are apprehensive.

Board member Nick Clevenger asked if teachers would have class preparation time, as they do in the current schedule.

Plank said teachers would have 90 minutes of prep time every other day, balanced on the other days with SRT.

Markward said students will need to learn to start their homework on the day it is assigned rather than waiting until the night before it’s due. They will be able to discuss what they don’t understand with their teachers during SRT and then finish it before the next day’s class.

In response to a question from Clevenger about how teachers will adapt to having longer class periods, Hicks said, “We are honoring the fact that some (teachers) are anxious … but some others see this as the rocket they’ve been waiting for.”

Northeastern Wayne Schools will provide teachers with paid personal development time to learn about the block system and summer institute days to develop their own plans.

“Change is always hard,” Hicks said. “You don’t want to do things to people, you want to do things with people.”

In other business, the board congratulated students of the month from January. They included Jemma Hypes from the Early Learning Center; Greyson White-Rauss, Northeastern Elementary; Cooper Gardner, Northeastern Middle; and Logan White, Northeastern High.

Music teacher Geneva Price, pictured with her dog Hembley

Recognized as Teacher of the Month was Geneva Price, middle school music teacher, praised for her willingness to take on many projects that assist students and administration.

Hicks also spoke of Northeastern’s efforts to partner with IU East in the Grow Your Own Teachers program. Designed to help alleviate the national teacher shortage, it allows qualified high school teachers to offer college-level introductory teacher instruction to interested juniors and seniors. The program gives students an idea of whether they really want to become teachers. Northeastern is hopeful it can begin this fall.

He also announced that Northeastern will receive a $59,500 grant from Lilly Endowment to go towards reinstating a Community in Schools aide at the high school. The position had previously been funded by a grant. When it ran out, the schools opted not to fill the position. Northeastern believes the position is worthwhile and is happy Lilly funded it, Hicks said.

The board also approved the following personnel changes.

New hires: Robbi West, high school permanent sub; Dave Baker, vocational bus driver; James Nelson, homebound instructor.

Rate changes: Cyndy Davis, Wendi Anderson.

Extra-curricular activities: Krista Oler, elementary PTO teacher rep.

Resignations: Jamie Lopeman, high school permanent sub; Daryl Ross, custodian; Nina Ann Snider, high school English teacher; Zoe Scarrette, CNA teaching assistant; Tim Ragan, IT.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, in the student services center, 7299 U.S. 27 N, Fountain City. The public may attend.

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Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.