Cider Mill looks to revive third grade world language

In an effort to increase enrichment opportunities for students, said Principal Jennifer Mitchell, Cider Mill School is looking to expand its world language offerings to its third graders in a budget-neutral way.

With the help of the school’s schedule committee and leadership team, Dr. Mitchell has proposed a schedule that would allow third graders to take introductory French and Spanish courses, an extension of what the school currently offers its fourth and fifth graders.

“We’ve done some creative scheduling — looking at how the overall school-wide schedule is organized into different blocks. It’s really a matter of organizing the schedule and looking at the way it is built and maximizing the time,” Dr. Mitchell told The Bulletin.

“Right now, it’s in 30-minute or 60-minute chunks. Moving to 45-minute chunks and really looking at the schedule as a whole would allow us to support every-other-day world language for third grade, fourth grade and fifth grade.”

Cider Mill used to offer third grade world language but that was cut from the budget during the FY11 education budget process.

Now the school is trying to revive the offering, Dr. Mitchell said, “because we know that language acquisition — for any language — is more efficient when it’s done at an earlier age.”

Last week, Dr. Mitchell began working with her staff to approve a schedule that would accommodate world language expansion.

“It’s looking positive at this point, and I believe that it will be a very positive move for the community and the students,” she said.

“The schedule committee and leadership team combined have proposed the schedule to the staff, which they have been reviewing.”

The school’s leadership team is comprised of representatives from each house and grade level, as well as special area staff, said Dr. Mitchell, and the schedule committee is an expansion of the leadership team that includes “some people who have an eye and a knack for scheduling.”

“We have a paraprofessional, who actually gave us a lot of the ideas for our new schedule. Her name is Sara Quantock, and she just has a mind for it,” said Dr. Mitchell.

“We’ve also had other classroom teachers who are interested in the process, as well as an expert who’s done a lot of work with ... creating time in school schedules that support teacher collaboration, which has been the driver for a lot of schedule changes.”

Dr. Mitchell said she has made it clear to her staff the schedule proposal and decision is a “collaborative process.”

“They have an opportunity to provide feedback and then I will ultimately, with the input of the staff, make a decision,” said Dr. Mitchell.