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Middle school curriculum under pressure

At the school board meeting on Jan. 24, John Jay Middle School Principal Richard Leprine presented the board with an overview of the structure and philosophy of the middle school curriculum. The presentation was in response to a request by the board in November to hear more information on the middle school curriculum structure and specifically the use of teaming as an academic strategy.

John Jay Middle School Principal Richard Leprine presenting an overview of the middle school curriculum at the the Jan. 24 Board of Education meeting. Mr. Leprine spoke of the added pressure state mandates put on teachers while board member Stephanie Tobin expressed concerns over outdated curriculum.

The middle school curriculum is designed around meeting the needs of a unique age group and their particular learning styles, Mr. Leprine said. Some major goals for this year include further implementing state mandated programs, including the common core curriculum standards.

“The state has mandated much of what we do,” Mr. Leprine said. “This is really something that has been thrust upon us without the ability to phase in a program, that has made it even more difficult for teachers.”

While teachers have been given more time and the aid of consultants to adapt to changes in the curriculum, there is seemingly always a request for more time from teachers, he said.

Board member Stephanie Tobin voiced concerns over what she said was an outdated technology and home and careers curriculum.

“I found that particularly outdated and insulting,” she said of the home and careers

curriculum. “I think we are still sewing and learning how to use a washing machine.”

While there has not been a comprehensive review of the technology and home

and careers curriculums, there has been some change, particularly with incorporating sustainability and character education initiatives into the curriculum, Mr. Leprine said.

Ms. Tobin also expressed an interest in having a future board discussion on extending the middle school day to take advantage of the afternoon hours with extracurricular activities.

“I really think that middle schoolers getting out at two in the afternoon really doesn’t lead to anything good happening,” she said.

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  • Casey

    As far as Ms. Tobin’s suggestion that extracurricular activities be added after M.S. students are dismissed, I’m not sure how that can happen. I don’t think the district has the funds and the kids just don’t have the time. Most kids are rising at 6 am for the early school start, eat lunch around 10 am and come home starving with hours of homework on many days. In addition, many kids have outside commitments (sports, religion, etc) that also causes time constraints, so it’s already difficult to get this age group through their long-demanding days – and I doubt many get even the minimum recommended hours of sleep because of such an early start time.

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