Superintendent of Perry Township Schools
Trends in education have a tendency to cycle through on a periodic basis. We typically will move from traditional instructional settings to try new configurations to see if a particular model has a positive impact on the education of children.
Thirty years ago, “open concept” classrooms were a trend. Open classrooms in essence were large expanses of rooms that held four or more classrooms in one area. There were no walls, no doors and no closed areas to conduct lessons. Teachers taught side by side with each other to groups of children. Envision four teachers conducting lessons at the same time.
Our teaching staff is second to none. Our educators have the ability to take any structure and make it work for the benefit of children.
Recent events around the country have brought all of us to a heightened sense of making sure our children are safe in school. The open concept model simply did not provide the protection and security that a closed classroom can. Your school board recognized the need, and this community provided the support to alter the last open concept building in Perry Township to a safe and secure facility.
Winchester Village Elementary is being transformed into a traditional classroom setting with walls and doors. Some of our students and teachers opened the semester in new classrooms with windows and doors. Teachers say it’s already helping students focus on their work with fewer distractions.
The most important thing we have to consider is what returning to the traditional classroom does for our students. We believe that the transition will allow for the interactive, richly expressive environment that our children need in order to collaborate and problem-solve with peers. This creates positive noise, which in turn builds enthusiasm and excitement.
Staff have commented:
• We will be able to use technology – with the volume up – on read-aloud books, science video clips and educational games without fear of interrupting another classroom’s quiet teaching time.
• Academic conversations and group time can take place with an inside speaking voice.
• Quiet reading time is not interrupted by other teaching voices and students.
• Students and staff no longer walk through another classroom to get to a specified location.
• Students with attention issues have a more focused atmosphere.
• Safety and security increases.
We believe the environment allows for an experience in which our students can be assessed more fairly without the sounds and distractions from adjoining classrooms without walls. While the inconvenience of construction is the downside to any building improvement, the end product will make an impact in the learning environment for our students for years to come.