At the end of last school year, it almost didn’t look the school district’s grand experiment of moving all sixth graders to Parkside would happen.
Parkside’s administrators for their lack of communication and withholding of resources that forced the school to scramble at the last minute to prepare for an influx of 480 new students—the sixth and seventh graders who would be arriving at the school for the first time.
When the first day of school came, however, all of the angst subsided and everything went smoothly, said Parkside Vice Principal Dan Lyttle.
Lyttle said the first day was a bit chaotic only because there were so many people on campus and it took some time for some students to get acclimated.
But once everyone got settled, he said, every student had a schedule, a teacher, a locker and a school photo taken.
“It worked out well because we overcame all the hurdles over the summer to make things happen,” Lyttle said.
Lyttle and a counselor spent extra time over the summer completing the school’s calendar—a task that normally gets done toward the end of the previous school year. The new sixth grade teachers were also given three full days before the new school year started to prepare for life at the new campus.
In all, the sixth graders seem to be adjusting well at the new Parkside.
They have their own building, which was part of the that was funded by proceeds from the sale of the Carl Sandburg site.
Many also say they like having different teachers throughout the day—one of the changes of moving from an elementary school.
The teachers seem to be adjusting to the change as well.
Megan Smith, a sixth grade math and science teacher, and Brett McWilliams, a language arts and history teacher, were busy strategizing after school on Thursday about how to better serve their students.
That collaboration is part of the new team atmosphere that is being pushed at the school to ease the transition for the students and teachers.
Smith said the new teacher collaboration system helps with daily planning and with making sure all of the teachers are on the same page with the students’ progress.
“That makes a difference,” McWilliams said. “We can talk about the kids’ academics, but we also just get to talk.”