Derry's School Board gets a glimpse at intermediate school set
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Derry's School Board gets a glimpse at intermediate school set

Jul 26, 2023

DERRY — The 2024 school redistricting is one step closer to becoming a reality, thanks to a committee’s report on the new intermediate school’s curriculum.

A group from the Derry School Board has come up with preliminary plans for the West Running Brook Intermediate School’s curriculum through a series of meetings with parents and staff. Joe Crawford and Kim Conant, the two board representatives involved with the project, announced those findings at the most recent meeting.

One of the biggest questions answered at the meeting pertained to how classroom instruction would be set up.

“We know what instruction looks like right now at an elementary school,” said Crawford, adding that the challenge is determining what the intermediate school should look like.

After speaking to other intermediate schools in the state and doing research, the team came up with several ideas to bring to a stakeholder’s meetings, including a number of ways classrooms could be broken up. They could have one common curriculum teacher for each classroom, or up to five individual teachers for each subject, in addition to specialized classes like art and music.

The findings Crawford and Conant presented to the school board were for fifth-graders to have a two-person team, sixth-graders to have three-person teams. The unique part of the proposal is that the school community will have three pods called “houses” comprising both fifth- and sixth-graders, and for the schedule to follow a regular middle school day.

“They wouldn’t share classrooms, but they would share physical space,” said Crawford. We saw that as having lots of benefits for kids, lots of social and emotional benefits, but also lots of instructional benefits.

While staffing the classrooms was one of the most important parts of the restructuring plan, Crawford added encouraging the social development of fifth- and sixth-graders was a major part of the discussion.

The two recommend for both grades to get a 25-minute recess, as well as work on maintaining the developmentally appropriate elements for both elementary and middle school, as well as creating a bridge between the two.

Having more than one core curriculum teacher and having students in diverse arts courses like band, chorus, and world language classes would better prepare students for the rest of their middle school and high school years, said Crawford.

Many of the other committee members agreed, adding how this information is making them more prepared to handle what comes next.

“This is exactly what we’ve been looking for, in terms of where everything is going and in terms of how the schools are going to be structured,” said committee member Michael Thiele.

Katelyn Sahagian can be contacted at [email protected]

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