Details about Prep’s new schedule announced

From Issue 2

Change is coming soon to the Jackson Prep day. The school has been working on deciding a new schedule as part of a strategic plan that began in the 2014-2015 school year, and the final result of the process will be an all-new schedule that will start in the fall of 2018. A main goal of this schedule change is to allow students to take more classes and become more student-centered.In crafting a new schedule, the school looked closely at a number of different models used by innovative schools nationwide. Independent School Management is the company that helped Prep make decisions regarding the new schedule.

Dr. Bryan Smyth, a consultant with ISM, came to the school last year to observe and interview people to help understand how Prep functions. Using information from his observations and interviews, ISM gave several recommendations to the school which began to form the basis of the new scheduling concept. Prep’s Board of Trustees was briefed on the new schedule as it was being finished. Ms. Carolyn Sisk, Prep’s Director of Academics, and Mr. Hunter Upchurch, Assistant Director of Academics, introduced the new schedule to the faculty at a special faculty meeting on September 5.

Interim Head of School Mr. Denny Britt unveiled the new schedule to his advisory board of students, the Interim Head of School Advice Council at their meeting on September 27 to hear their feedback. Students and families will see a number of changes in the school day, including its length. One thing that will change next year is that the two different divisions of the school will have different schedules.

The junior high schedule will retain more stability. Junior high students will still have sports during the school day. Each morning there will be a 15-minute advisory meeting for all students before 1st period begins. Although the junior high schedule and senior high schedules will be different, there will be an overlapping carrier (class period) at the end of each day. There will be more carriers in the class day to allow for more variety and flexibility in a student’s schedule.

In the senior high, the most visible change will be that carriers, or class periods, will rotate from day to day, so a student will not take all core academic classes in one day. This rotation should allow students to not have homework in all of their academic classes every night, and help people who get dismissed early from school for different activities such as athletic events, so they will not miss the same class every time. Students will also be able to take more electives with this change. School will now start at 8:10 am and end at 3:10 pm each day. Each carrier (or period) other than the final one will be 70 minutes long. The lunch period for all senior high students will be 45 minutes and will no longer be part of 4th period.

As it currently stands, the plan is not necessarily the definitive version of what the schedule will be for the next few years. Mr. Upchurch said, “I am excited that Prep is moving towards a schedule that is more student-centered and flexible.  I believe that these changes will allow our students more time to pursue innovative and creative educational opportunities.”  The new schedule will remain a work in progress for a while as the administration gathers feedback and comments and moves toward implementing the new schedule for the next school year.