Local News

New school year brings new schedule

Posted August 20, 2009 6:23 a.m. EDT
Updated August 20, 2009 9:48 a.m. EDT

— Wake County students starting at traditional schedule schools next week will encounter a new schedule: a one-hour early dismissal on Wednesdays.

Teachers will meet in professional learning teams those afternoons.

For the rest of the week, the school day has been lengthened by 10 minutes to ensure students get the mandatory 1,000 hours of instruction. Year-round schools began the new schedule seven weeks ago.

Scott Garren, who teaches social studies at year-round East Cary Middle School, said the collaboration lets teachers better help their students.

"The more heads you have in the situation, the more eyes you have on the situation, the more ideas you're going to come up with," Garren said.

Teachers discuss how students are doing and how they can help them. Team members teach different subjects and share their strategies.

"A student I might have in social studies, they might go to art and really excel. By talking to that teacher about what's working really well in that class, I can take some of that and bring that into my classroom and set them up for success," Garren said.

Since traditional-schedule students will start on a Tuesday, their teachers soon began discussing ways to help them.

"By the second day of school for traditional students, teachers will already be talking about what students need ... so they can start addressing those needs immediately," said Donna Hargens, chief academic officer for the Wake County Public School System.

On six Wednesdays, students will be released 2½ hours early for schoolwide faculty professional development.

Teachers said the program helps them build a sense of camaraderie.

"You have this danger of being isolated in the classroom, like you're on an island," Garren said. "This really gets us out of that and gets us together."

School system officials said that many after-school care providers are accommodating the schedule change.