After its second year helping students make the transition between elementary and junior high schools, the guided study program at L.J. Hauser Junior High in Riverside will be expanded from two to three sections for next school year.
As Hauser Principal Joel Benton explained at the June 14 meeting of the District 96 Education Committee, the guided study program is a specialized study hall where students learn better organization and studying skills. It is particularly targeted for sixth-grade students who are just entering junior high, but students from all grade levels who need help in these areas can participate in the program.
“It’s usually a first-line intervention, rather than brainstorming interventions later when students have already fallen apart,” Benton said. “This is a proactive intervention for when the student begins at Hauser and has success right away. I love the program.”
The program started two years ago with just one section for students from all grade levels. While it was helpful for students, Benton said, having all grade levels in one class proved to be too difficult. The following year the program was split into two sections, one for sixth grade and one for seventh grade. There were about 15 students in each class, and Benton said the set-up allowed the teachers to stick to the curriculum much more than in the first year.
For next year, a second sixth-grade class will be added, with nine students in each sixth-grade class and again approximately 15 in the seventh-grade class.
Benton said the program
appears to be working well,
pointing to the number of students who were able to exit the program in the middle of last year. In the sixth-grade class, four students had done well enough to leave the class after just the first quarter.
According to Mary Banholzer, one of the guided study teachers, the benefit of the program is that it is flexible enough to fit the needs of each student individually, thereby motivating them to do better in school.
“I like the fluid dynamics of the class,” she said. “I like the ability to let kids move in and out of the class at certain quarters, I think it allows them to reach certain goals and become more independent. The kids were motivated by that, and those who might have fallen through the cracks and not have been noticed were held accountable.”
In the future, Benton said, the school administration would like to add an eighth-grade section to the program. Although ideally the hope is that most students would have moved on from the guided study program after two years, there are some students who still need the assistance. Currently those students are simply put in with the other sections, but staff and members of the board’s Education Committee recognized it would be more effective to provide an entirely different class.
FCS repairs still needed
In other news, the Education Committee also discussed repairs that will have to be made to the Family/Consumer Science classroom at Hauser before the coming school year. The future of the program at Hauser has been in contention lately, with the school board rejecting a proposal from Benton to overhaul the entire facility and curriculum in April.
Last week, Benton explained that even to continue the program in its present state, ovens in the classroom will have to be repaired, and some microwaves may have to be replaced. Benton said he was in the midst of interviewing candidates for the FCS teaching position, and once the new teacher was hired, they would review the classroom together and develop a full list of the needed repairs.