School Makeup Gets Creative

WHEELING – During the remainder of this school year, elementary students in Ohio County may be taught numbers and letters while they wait in line for the restroom.

Fractions could become part of music class instruction, and students likely will focus on stories pertaining to social studies and health in their reading classes.

This year’s major snowfalls have Ohio County school leaders seeking ways to “maximize instruction” and “compact curriculum” as they strive to teach students necessary skills by the end of the school year.

This week, the school district’s principals presented to the Ohio County Board of Education their ideas for how to adjust teaching.

Ohio County Schools have lost 14 days this school year to snow, and officials have proposed changes to the school calendar to make up for nine of those days. The amended calendar will be presented to the Ohio County Board of Education at its next meeting on March 8.

“It’s been an extraordinary winter,” said Superintendent George Krelis. “Most school years, we average one to five days lost to weather cancellation. This year, we are way, way beyond this.”

Until May, teachers must focus on preparing students for the WESTEST achievement test, Krelis said. And there is also the need to get vocational students certified before the school year ends, he said.

Nikki Kacmarik, principal at Madison Elementary School, told of plans at the elementary level for compacting curriculum.

Reading and math curriculum will be stressed, she said, and teachers will work to identify students who are “at risk” and need more attention.

They will receive that attention as the rest of their class moves on to the next lesson, he said.

There will also be more combining of classes and lessons as students focus on social studies and health topics as part of their reading assignments, she said.

And teachers will look to use every second of time while students are at school, Kacmarik continued. Home room time will be minimized, and students will be quizzed on vocabulary and math with flash cards while they wait for buses. Recess will become the time to play educational games.

She noted elementary students often spend much time standing in line during restroom breaks. It’s possible that flashcards will be used to teach the children during this down time, Kacmarik said.

At the middle school level, Amy Minch, principal at Bridge Street Middle School, said award days and school trips will likely be eliminated this year. Instead, students will be rewarded with tickets to attend events with their families on their own time.

Wheeling Park High School instructors also will seek to “minimize outside events,” said Principal Bernie Dolan.

The “Ed Line” computer system also will be used at all grade levels, the principals said. The system allows students and parents to access information and lessons posted by their teachers.