The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 7, 2013

Joplin High School leaders tackle issue of scheduling

JOPLIN, Mo. — The traditional high school schedule that contains six to eight class periods each day between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. could soon be a thing of the past for some Joplin students.

Administrators from Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center met this week to start hashing out what class scheduling will look like at the new high school when it opens for the 2014-15 academic year. Under construction at 20th Street and Indiana Avenue, the 501,000-square-foot high school will feature a “career pathways” model that encourages students to pursue courses geared toward a designated career path.

“We know that time, and how we use time, is going to be a big difference in the new high school,” said Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer.

The discussions included teachers, students, members of the Board of Education and representatives from Franklin Tech’s local feeder schools. Leading the session was consultant Elliot Merenbloom, a former teacher and principal from Baltimore and co-author of “Making Creative Schedules Work in Middle and High Schools.”

Merenbloom said he is helping administrators distill their ideas for the new high school into a schedule that works for the needs of their students.

“They have lots of wonderful plans, and in developing a schedule, you need to bring all of these together into one organizational plan,” he said. “There are many good ways (to organize a schedule), and I think the question is: What are the best ways here?”

Ideas that have been discussed include offering class periods of varying lengths, offering class periods before or after the traditional school day, and offering high school and college credit concurrently, according to Merenbloom. He said he also has talked to administrators about defining the structure of the high school’s “career pathways” model and how flexibility in scheduling can take place within that model.

Besendorfer said offering both traditional and nontraditional scheduling at the high school will “provide 2,200 kids an individualized learning opportunity.” She said flexibility in scheduling and course offerings is needed because students learn at different rates and have varying career and postsecondary educational goals.

“Students will have a lot of opportunity for choice (in scheduling) based on their career focus, based on their opportunities for higher education, and also based on their life,” she said.

High school Principal Kerry Sachetta said the discussions also have dealt with delivering course materials in an alternative manner and looking for ways to offer credit outside the school day.

He said this week’s brainstorming session marked the beginning of what he hopes will become a talking point over the upcoming months.

“We’re just starting to get faculty and community input, and there’s going to be a lot more,” he said.

No timetable set

KERRY SACHETTA, principal of Joplin High School, said no decisions about scheduling for the 2014-15 academic year have been made. He said he hopes to have a schedule in place by January 2014.

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