North Surry High School is planning a new program that hopefully will impact student learning.
Paige Badgett, school principal, appeared before the county Board of Education this week to describe the innovative approach and request permission to move forward with the launch for the new school year in a month.
The pilot program, as Badgett presented it to the school board, is twofold.
The biggest part is changing from the past concept of a SMART lunch (Students Maximizing Achievement with Resources and Time).
The idea before had been to schedule some extra time during the lunch period so that teachers could work with students who might need additional instruction.
“It’s our fix-it time,” said Dr. Travis Reeves, school superintendent. Teachers can work directly with kids in need, while many student-athletes use this time to get their work done or to get ahead.
Unfortunately, there have been some issues, and Badgett wants to move to a concept that would have a more secure and efficient structure.
What kind of issues, the school board wondered.
At lunch time, there are 850 kids moving all at once, which makes it harder to patrol the halls and ensure students are going where they are supposed to be. Badgett said a small percentage of students weren’t making proper use of their time and disciplinary issues were more frequent in this period.
Instead, Badgett proposes to put lunch back to normal and switch to Hound Ops. This would be a time in the morning four days a week similar to what SMART lunch was designed to do.
In a slide show to the board, Badgett showed how the morning could be split up. The day would start with first period at 7:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
For the next 10 minutes, the students would have a break and time to get to their next location as the Hound Ops time would run from 9:25-9:45 a.m., with second period starting at 9:50 a.m.
This intervention block will give students who need additional support time for assigned interventions or study hall, said the school district.
Those who do not need intervention may participate in enrichment opportunities and optional study hall. Badgett said students would have to sign in either at the cafeteria or the media center for this optional time.
She showed another slide that gave a preliminary rotation for the teachers to supervise the various areas and duties.
The concept affords teachers the flexibility to differentiate learning needs and be responsive to all students, according to a press release from the school district.
Students who struggle in one class often struggle in others, Badgett told the school board. Therefore, there could be multiple teachers wanting time with a student during Hound Ops. In order to keep it fair, a rotating priority will go by day. On Mondays, first period classes get priority. Tuesdays is second period, Thursday is third period and Friday fourth period.
That plan leaves out Wednesdays, which is a special case, and makes up the second part of the program.
Wednesdays won’t have an intervention block because North Surry is starting later on those mornings.
Or at least the scheduled classes are starting later. The teachers will begin their days at the usual time with some staff development work.
The school said Paws Time will “provide a more efficient and deliberate time for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to increase overall academic achievement for students. PLCs are teacher teams who work together to ensure teaching strategies are working and to create pathways to learning solutions.”
Teachers will come together in groups at 7:45 a.m. with regular classes not starting until 8:30 a.m.
“The late start will enable teachers to work together to make decisions about how to best support and impact student learning collectively, which is a powerful tool to improve student achievement,” said Badgett. This time could be spent on tasks such as lesson plan fine tuning, creating common assessments, and intervention and enrichment planning.
Dr. Jill Reinhardt, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the research is clear: when teachers have a shared belief that all students can learn and when those teachers work together to improve their craft, the result is improved student learning.
“When Mrs. Badgett came to me with the pilot proposal, I knew this was right for students,” said Reinhardt. “I am excited to see the student learning gains and look forward to supporting teachers and administrators as they work through this unchartered territory.”
“Surry County Schools is known for its innovative, creative and personalized approaches to student learning,” said Reeves. “Late-start Wednesdays is another example of educators prioritizing student needs and establishing a strategic plan to increase student achievement.”
Badgett said despite the shift in schedule, there should be no issue with logistics.
“Surry County Schools’ bus transportation will not change and will remain the same as with the 2017-2018 school year schedule,” explained Badgett. “Students who ride a bus will arrive at the same time on Wednesdays. … On Wednesdays, however, the required student day is from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Any student arriving before 8:25 a.m. will have scheduled enrichment opportunities.”
For those who arrive by parent drop-off or who drive themselves to school, students must report by 8:25 a.m. but may come at their regular time if desired.
On Wednesday mornings, first period will run from 8:30-9:55 a.m., then second period from 10-11:25 a.m., the principal said.
After the presentation, Dr. Terri Mosley, school board chair, thanked the staff of North Surry, noting, “They have obviously put a lot of thought into this.”
“I am proud of North Surry administrators and staff for their commitment to improve teaching and learning for all students through focused intervention,” said Reeves. He thanked the school board for its forward thinking. “Their support of this pilot program at North Surry High School is evidence of what can happen when all of us work together to support our schools and students.”
In order to explain the concepts to parents, Badgett has planned three different evening sessions at the high school in the media center. The first two parent sessions are on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m., for July 26 and Aug. 9. The final one will be Aug. 21 at 5:30 p.m., which is also the date of the school open house.
Students return to school on Monday, Aug. 27.
In another piece of business this week, a Surry Central student requested permission to do his Eagle Scout project at Copeland Elementary School.
Adam Spainhour and his mom Kim came to get permission to erect a blessing box, a stand-alone depository for nonperishable food items for needy families in the area.
The board members asked how big this blessing box would be. He said that it wouldn’t be that big — about the size of the free book library that is located at some schools and other locations.
Adam said that thanks to assistance from his troop members he was able to complete the building of the box at his home in just one day.
With the board’s consent, which it quickly gave, Adam plans to grade a spot for the box, bring the structure over and set it up, and then spread some mulch around the base.
As for looking after the food supplies, Adam said the Copeland student council will maintain the box.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.