Academies bring about room changes

Sheila+Connor%2C+an+English+teacher%2C+packs+up+her+classroom%2C+into+her+closet+in+preparation+for+the+next+school+year.+As+a+tenured+teacher%2C+she+has+acquired+a+number+of+classroom+supplies+that+require+a+great+deal+of+storage+space.++

Vivian Landis

Sheila Connor, an English teacher, packs up her classroom, into her closet in preparation for the next school year. As a tenured teacher, she has acquired a number of classroom supplies that require a great deal of storage space.

Vivian Landis, Feature Editor

Spring cleaning is in full swing at North High. Numerous teachers have

begun packing up their rooms in preparation for a new room number.   

Come next school year, the building will be organized by academy. The Computer Science and Technology Academy will be on the first floor. The Engineering and Design Academy as well as the Science and Research Academy will share the second floor. Finally, the Freshman Academy will reside on the third floor. 

North’s Reimagination Committee was the group that proposed that the building be organized by academy. Seeing as though North will be a wall-to-wall academy school by 2024, meaning that every student will be enrolled in an academy, the committee wanted the building’s layout to align with the “future” of the school, according to Michelle Porter, a curriculum specialist. Before making any final decisions, they sent out a survey to the staff so that they could also have input on the layout. 

Teachers and staff had three choices, to stay in their current rooms, have the building be organized based on subject, or have the layout of the building fall under academies. Along with a choice of vote, the survey also had a place made for comments.  

Ultimately, the option to organize the building based off academy gained the most support.  

Jessica Koch, a math teacher, voted in favor of the academy model. She thought the new layout of the building would have tremendous benefits.  

“I just thought it made a lot of sense ‘cause right now my classroom is by some other math teachers, but they don’t necessarily teach the same subjects as I do…I just thought it’d be easier to collaborate, and I liked the idea of students not having to go as far,or all over the building to get to their other classes, especially since our school is so big,” said Koch.   

Earlier in the school year, Koch was able to take a trip to Akron, Ohio. She and a few other teachers were able to observe an academy model school. This allowed them to envision what North could look like with academies advancing past freshman academy.  

Sheila Connor, an English teacher, also voted in favor of organizing the school by academy. However, she did not want the new layout to be implemented right away.  

“I said that we should wait until we had a better plan, but it sounded like they already wanted to make those changes. So, if they were going to do it, I asked that they do it ahead of the end of the school year so that we had more time to prep and clean our rooms,” said Connor. 

Meghan Witty, a history teacher, is indifferent toward the academy organization because she still feels a bit of hesitance towards the academies themselves. She has observed how they have been successful in other school districts, but still thinks public schools should serve as a platform for students to explore all aspects of education.  

“The whole point of public schools is to prepare students to be active members of society. If what we’re doing does not have a direct correlation to that, why are we doing it? Are we wasting time and resources when maybe we need to go back to the foundation of education and the foundation of learning and start there, especially coming after a time of [COVID-19],” stated Witty. 

She wondered if the time and resources going into the building change should be redirected toward rebuilding the foundation of education.  

Now that the school will be following the “Academy Model,” all core teachers will be grouped into one of the four academies. This way teachers in the same academy can be placed close together within the school. This will make communication easier and give teachers the chance to plan cross-curricular activities. 

Students will also have an easier time getting to class seeing that the majority of their teachers will be in the same spot. 

However, students will find that the art room, various Haddix Center classes, a multitude of science classes, and the language hallway will reside in the same spot come next year. Many subjects are unable to move rooms seeing that their current space caters to the needs of those subjects.  

Not only are certain teachers getting new rooms, some of the administrators and deans of North will also be switching offices.  

Similar to core teachers administrators, deans, and even counselors will be assigned to an academy. Vice principals will transform into academy principals, while a counselor(s) and a curriculum specialist will be tied to each of the academies for extra support.  

“The plan is to try and create this whole school within a school community,” said Porter.  

Having administrators more spread out is an ideal situation for many teachers. Donell Evans, a science teacher, is thrilled that she will have an administrator on the same floor as her come next year.  

“I think that’ll be great. The students can go directly to them, they won’t have to go to other floors. So if they don’t go directly to them it won’t take much time to figure out they didn’t go where they were supposed to,” said Evans.  

Lynne Smith, assistant principal at North, thinks that an administrator’s presence will clear up the “clutter” in the hallways. 

 “I think just having us spread out will help keep the kids out of certain areas that they like to hang out in,” said Smith. 

Ultimately it will be the responsibility of teachers and staff members to pack their rooms up in preparation for the next school year. All boxes and big furniture will be transferred from room to room over the summer by North’s custodial staff.  

Witty feels that this year was less than ideal to move due to lack of time. 

“Because we’re still under construction this year we don’t have any time to do it. We can’t prep during our plan time because we’re covering half our plan, and then when we’re not covering we grade and plan. The school is going to be shut down over the summer because of construction…The time needed to clean out an old room but also set up a new room is not there,” said Witty.  

Connor went through the process of packing her room up last year when she received new carpet and a new whiteboard. Now she is having to do the whole process over, only to receive a downgrade.  

“Well my room is pretty small currently, but I just received new carpeting and a new white board. The new room I’m moving into is the exact same size with the old carpeting and an old white board so I don’t feel like I’m moving to anything bigger and better. I wish my room were bigger because I do a lot of activities with my students,” stated Connor.  

While the logistics of moving may be a bit difficult, Evans is excited to inherit room 334 seeing as though it is better suited to her curriculum.   

“I’m excited to go up there for the environmental science courses. There’ll be plenty of light for plants. My students can go to the outside and we can have classes on the [green roof]. For me as an environmental science teacher, I think it’s a good location,” said Evans.  

Although the staff of North may have differing opinions on next year’s layout, they will all be experiencing change together.  

“It’s just something different, change is always hard for people. I think in the end it’s going to be a good thing,” said Smith.