Middle school schedule proves to be an upgrade

Adding and implementing new changes in the middle school schedule, administration sees positive reactions from the students and staff. The new changes include the addition of FOCUS and smoothing the transition between fifth and sixth grade.

Due to the newly implemented middle school schedule this school year, students and staff adapt and positively respond to all the changes that have been set in place by administration.
Last year, the middle schools implemented a new schedule in order to improve the transition from fifth to sixth grade and eighth to ninth grade and to balance instructional time.
The new schedule has had both positive and negative effects on the middle school.
According to Indian Valley Middle School principal Jeff Pammer, one of the biggest positives is the smoother transition from fifth to sixth grade.
“I like the new way we transition from fifth grade to sixth grade. I think having the two person team allows teachers to be more aware of the learning styles and how they learn,” Pammer said. “You get an established relationship with students and their parents and I think the transition for incoming sixth graders has been beneficial.”
According to eighth grader Samuel Gerhart, not only is the fifth to sixth grade transition smoother, but also the eighth to ninth grade transition as well.
“We are more prepared for high school because of the longer core classes in the schedule, so that’s good,” Gerhart said.
The new schedule also gives more time to math, science, and social studies teachers. According to eighth grader Matthew Malanga, the extra time permits for teachers to fully go through the curriculum and accomplish a lot more.
“This also allows the teachers to go through some material slower so that every student can understand it,” Malanga said.

As well, a block called FOCUS is scheduled during the day and is used in many different ways. According to Indian Crest Middle School principal Katie McCoy, FOCUS has been a critical block of time that has helped students be more engaged during the school day.
“We start our morning with the idea that some kids need that soft landing in the morning and a place to get themselves situated and started for the day,” McCoy said.
FOCUS is not only used for engagement activities, but also for extra academic projects. According to Pammer, the middle school has a partnership with AWeber and their employees come in during the FOCUS period.
“We have a partnership now with Aweber where Aweber comes in during our FOCUS blocks and works with individuals. We have 62 students that work with Aweber in teams and they are designing specific apps,” Pammer said. “They are going through the whole thing with the Aweber process. For the final product, students will go to Aweber and present their product to the Aweber company.”
As well, FOCUS has allowed students to focus on one specific project for a certain period of time. According to Pammer, the record for the amount of kids that participated in the science fair was broken this year.
“Because of the FOCUS blocks, we sent 41 students to the PJAS competition. We have never sent that many. Now, we are sending 19 students excluding sixth graders to states at Penn State which is a record for us,” Pammer said.
On Mondays, all students have advisory during their FOCUS block. According to McCoy, advisory during the FOCUS block is based on the social emotional learning at their age.
“We developed this schedule with the specific developmental needs of each grade level in mind because sixth graders are very different than eighth graders,” McCoy said, “so I think that it will positively affect students just that we are addressing their developmental need at that grade level.”