It’s been a year of changes for the Bald Eagle Area School District after administration called its former educational scheduling practices “disjointed.”
Schools at the primary level have switched to a unified reading program, and formed a new master schedule that provides extra minutes of instructional time, without extending the school day, said James Orichosky, Wingate Elementary School principal and director of elementary education.
“I have always been in elementary schools where teachers set their own schedules, and it was disjointed as we were splitting our resources,” Orichosky said. “Let’s be honest, we’re all human and would cater to our favorite subject of interest … subjects are now divided equally.”
District spokeswoman Rose Hoover said the move was made to keep things more organized.
She said it “reduces the need to arrange and rearrange” a teacher’s daily schedules to accommodate student interventions and enrichment, and special subjects such as art, music and physical education.
“Because of this schedule, teachers were able to implement the curriculum on the first day of school, not having to wait to see what time certain students were scheduled for support services,” Hoover said.
The idea was sparked more than a year ago when Tracy Boone, director of curriculum, attended a forum in Hershey that highlighted how to organize school schedules, taught by Michael Rettig, founder of School Scheduling Associates.
District administration then teamed up with Rettig before the start of school to design a master schedule that all elementary schools would follow.
Orichosky said the schedule allows for a daily period of enrichment for advanced learners, which consists of one-half hour each for math and language arts.
Regular daily schedules for each elementary grade allow for additional common planning time for teachers, improved strategic interventions for students, and an overall better use of both student and teacher time.
“It’s an integrated approach,” Orichosky said. “We’re still tweaking it, but it’s keeping us all on the same page. We’re able to fill the holes and use our time more efficiently.”
Orichosky said that “believe it or not,” the students are seeing a change in that they’re getting more intense instruction, including health that is being taught during physical education.
“We found there was a need for teachers to be on the same page at each grade level,” Orichosky said. “This is allowing us to put our best foot forward and make the best use of the resources we have, and use our teachers in the best way possible.”