Johnson City Press Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nathan Baker

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New procedure gives SHHS students time to 'flex' muscles, minds or stomachs

August 9th, 2014 10:51 pm by Nathan Baker

New procedure gives SHHS students time to 'flex' muscles, minds or stomachs

Now a week into the school year, Science Hill High School administrators say a new lunchtime procedure is sitting well with students.

This year, the school implemented “Topper Flex Time,” an hour-long period during the school day during which students are free to eat lunch, participate in extracurricular activities or attend tutoring sessions with teachers.

Principal Melanie Riden-Bacon and Assistant Principal Todd Barnett said the flex-time initiative has been under consideration for a few years, but the Response to Intervention, or RTI, component of Tennessee’s education reforms brought the need for the program to the forefront.

The principals hope that by making time available during the school day, when students are present and in designated areas, as opposed to after school, those that need it will be more likely to participate.

“All we really did was change some class times around,” Barnett said. “We had four separate lunches and all the bells — we had a lot of time to pull from.”

Lunch will be served from 12:06 to 12:55, Barnett said, and students are free to eat early or late and are free to travel to designated areas during the hour.

During the flex hour, students aren’t allowed to leave Science Hill’s campus for lunch, Riden-Bacon said, but they are free to roam between certain areas.

“We’ve got such a big facility — it’s what allows us to be able to pull this off,” she said.

To help staff the open time, teachers are scheduled for 30 minutes of supervisory duty three days each week. The rest of the time, they’re expected to be available for students, holding tutoring sessions or overseeing clubs or other extracurriculars.

The new program is still early in the process, but Barnett said the reception has been positive.

“We had free cookies this week, so it really helped to rejuvenate things,” Riden-Bacon added. “We had a few concerns from parents before school started this year, but we’ve heard nothing but accolades since. Students are loving it, teachers are loving it and parents think it’s great.”

As the school year progresses, more programs will be added, including more academic offerings and possibly fitness time.

“We’re going to have a lot of opportunities for students to take part in learning,” Barnett said. “We’re allowing them to take ownership in their own learning process.”

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