Whittemore Park Middle School students are a little more prepared this year thanks to an organizational program taught every week.
iCan ROAR Academy is a schoolwide program aimed to teach students organization, responsibility and life skills. Small classes meet every Friday morning to organize their school binders, learn life skills and set goals for students’ futures.
“It’s a great way for students to have personal contact with an adult and get them ready for college and beyond,” Principal Judy Beard said.
Students spent Friday morning setting up and personalizing their 2-inch binders where they’ll store homework, notes and all classwork. The binders are meant to keep middle schoolers – especially the boys – organized, Beard said.
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“I have trouble staying organized because there’s so much work,” said eighth grader Timothy Shelton. “But this will help because I won’t lose any homework.”
Whittemore Park kick-started the program two years ago. Students met for a few minutes every morning to organize their binders and prepare for the day, but it wasn’t enough time to get everything done, Beard said. So administrators created an entire class period first thing Friday to help students stay organized.
“Last year there were pockets of success, but some students still had stuff at the bottom of their bookbags,” assistant principal Demetrius Williams said. “Now the new time gives them a chance to tidy up before school is out for the week.”
Lessons are based on the four ROAR principles: respect, organization, achievement and responsibility. Each week is dedicated to one of the four principles, but organization is always included during the 40-minute class. Every week’s lesson builds on the others, Williams said.
“If we can get study and note-taking skills down in sixth grade, then they’ll be able to succeed later,” she said.
Whittemore administrators hope the class – which, for now, is the same across all three grade levels – helps prepare students for college and career. Instilling organizational skills into younger students may prepare them for higher-level courses in high school and beyond, Beard said.
“Nobody really teaches organization anymore,” Beard said. “We felt, as a school, it was our job to teach them those skills.”
Students are grouped into teams of 10 to 15 and will meet every Friday morning. Every teacher has his or her own group, and over the semester administrators hope the individualized attention from iCan will help students succeed in all their classes. Teachers are encouraged to keep track of student progress and provide support or guidance, no matter the subject.
Jean Mintz, English language arts teacher, said the small groups make students feel more comfortable and the individual attention bonds teachers and students together.
“This is our family – that’s what this is about,” she said. “They can come to me with anything and I will support them.”
Claire Byun: 626-0381, @Claire_TSN