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School board approves new course, reviews co-teaching experience



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THE GOVERNOR WENTWORTH REGIONAL SCHOOL BOARD (l-r): standing, Dr. James Manning, Ernest Brown, Student Representative Tim Campbell, Chair James Rines and Vice Chair John Widmer; sitting, Secretary Joanne Fiorini, Wendi Fenderson, Diane Drelick, Charlene Seibel and Stacy Trites. (Missing from photo was member Don Meader.) (Heather Terragni photo) (click for larger version)
October 22, 2009
OSSIPEE — Hosted by Ossipee Central School Principal Beth Hertzfeld, the Governor Wentworth Regional School Board met Monday evening, Oct. 19.

Hertzfeld announced that the school completed its playground renovations last weekend. The project was funded by a $5,000 Lowe's grant awarded the school last year.

Elaine Meyers, reading instructor at Ossipee Central School, engaged the board in a game of Jeopardy. Myers demonstrated a version of the game which is used as a fun, educational tool during the OCS's School's Out program. Created for all levels of learning the game can be individualized for review of specific lessons and topics.

Stacy Trites, on behalf of the Academic Affairs committee, asked the board to consider a new course to be added to the foreign language curriculum at the high school level. Separate from the current level four Spanish Honors class, this semester-long course, Spanish IIII Culture and Civilization, would incorporate topics for discussion such as current events, government, history, immigration and environmental issues, all in Spanish.

The course may appeal to some students for its emphasis on media and materials gathered from sources other than a textbook, Trites said, adding that keeping students intrigued in foreign language courses is important, as many universities require several years of foreign language studies in High School.

The board unanimously voted to approve the course.

Special Education teacher Diane Harrington and general education language arts teacher Nancy Harwood introduced the board to the middle school co-teaching project.

Harwood touched on the importance of matriculating special needs students into the general curriculum. Kids with disabilities need to be exposed to regular classrooms because that is where testing comes from, she explained.

By blending classes of general education with resource rooms, requiring tandem instruction by both a general education teacher as well as a paraprofessional, the staff has been able to enhance the educational atmosphere. The change has allowed for more one-on-one interaction with the students, creating a more individualized lesson plan.

"Co-teaching can really deepen the intensity of the class time," Harwood said. The ability to switch roles with one another and work with students they don't normally work with has been well received by the students and "shifted the culture of the classroom," she added.

All this progress hasn't come without an effort on the part of the staff, however. Having to learn to share a space and work together through differing teaching styles has required more training then expected.

Though the model has been in practice for about three years, the middle school staffs are now receiving formal training from a consultant.

Harwood said that she and her teammates are happy the "model is practical and clear and not a theory that would take a long time to implement." Although the model seems to work well in many ways, the pair said they will need linear data to tell if it's just this group of kids or the model that is working so well.

Assistant Superintendent and Special Education Director Kathleen Cuddy-Egbert stated that she can feel and see the difference in classroom behavior when she enters the middle school. Principal Kirkland Ross added that the classrooms are active but the students are engaged and student behaviors have seemed to improve. The co-teaching model also goes well with the new Smartboard technology in some of the classrooms, as the approach is very mobile and individualized.

The full school board will meet again Monday evening, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Tuftonboro Central School.

Martin Lord Osman
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