By Elyana Schosek
In past years, students at Springville Middle School have been required to take all of the school’s exploratory classes. These consist of: art, music, home and careers and technology.
However, a recent change has allowed some flexibility regarding the classes the students take — they are no longer just assigned to them.
“Our teachers and our students should have choice and be able to lead their own learning,” said Shanda DuClon, Middle school principal.
Beginning in November, the teachers were allowed the review their current course offerings and “revamp and redesign their courses.” Throughout the year, teachers were given time to submit proposals and their ideas to DuClon for her to review.
A catalog was then created for students and their parents to look at to decide which direction they would be taking concerning their courses for next year.
Families received the catalog in the mail along with the course selection portion that they returned to student services. The counselors then derived the students’ schedules from these.
Some teachers chose to make no major changes whereas “others completely restructured how they are offering classes to our SMS students,” DuClon said.
“So far, I’ve heard really good things about this from our students,” she added. Most students were eager for this change from the start, giving feedback to their teachers at every given opportunity.
“One of the students I spoke with is not as good at cooking or sewing but enjoys technology more. He was excited to be able to get all of his credits in technology class,” DuClon said. “On the flipside, one student I spoke with cooks all of the time at home. She is excited to take a more advanced course in cooking because she already has a lot of the basics mastered.”
Seeing as this is something new to the middle school this year, a lot of high school students wanted to share their opinions on it. Some thought it was a good idea that benefited the kids, while others thought it’s something that should wait until high school.
“I think it is a great thing to do because the kids get to choose what they are interested in so they learn better and faster,” said Nathan Cudney.
Similarly, Cole Myers stated, “It gives kids a chance to focus on something that may be important to them or just interesting.”
“I think it’s a good thing because it will get kids interested in what they are taking since they choose what they want to do. Plus, that way they will learn more,” said Ben Sullivan.
Julie Bartoszek said, “I think it’s a better system because the kids will be able to take the classes that they enjoy and make the most of their middle school years.”
Alternately, Sam Gottstine wasn’t too sure about the change.
“I think that the idea of student agency and taking control of your education is all well and good, I just don’t think that it’s going to be that beneficial or have that big of an impact,” he said. “I would not have changed anything, just left it as is and waited until high school to start that stuff.”
However, Olivia Giammarco felt very strongly about this change.
“As a student having been through middle school and then transitioning to high school, I definitely felt that I had lacked the opportunity to explore the many aspects of the main exploratory classes in middle school,” she said.
Upon entering high school, Olivia realized how many areas of study there were that were hardly mentioned in middle school.
“I realized there was no way I would be able to take all of the classes that I am interested in during my high school career,” she continued. “I think that allowing the students to explore their many options at a younger age will allow them to be better prepared for what they would like to focus on in high school and give them the chance to touch on each subject, but also go more into depth with those that most interest them.”
Keaton Wnuk said that he think it’s a great thing to do because “it gives the kids the option to focus on a certain topic that interests them instead of just having to sit in a class that they don’t care about.” Being a sophomore, he said he wishes they had made the change sooner.
For those involved directly in making the change, it has been “a big undertaking” as DuClon put it. But, they are all very excited about it.
Knowing that it is “a work in progress”, they are eager to see where it goes in the coming school year.