Megan Ferguson ‘19 and Marina Belloli ‘19: Currently in full swing, the new Ninth Grade Academy at Romeo High School continues to thrive. Introduced at the beginning of the 2018 – 2019 school year, the new learning environment for freshmen students promises a strong academic future. Separating the students into three teams: Quest, Discovery, and Expedition. Team Discovery includes the teaching unit of Ms. Hardy, Mr. Galazka, Mr. Spresney, and Ms. Crenshaw.

Placing emphasis on reading, Ms. Crenshaw strives to influence her students to become lifelong readers.

“Our hope is that by allowing or even requiring students to read outside of class they are building that confidence that they need and that stamina that they need,” Crenshaw said. “We have always done independent reading but its looked a little bit different. It was more flexible and laid back, but now its recording how many pages your reading a week and how much time [they are] spending in reading a week. [We] also are trying to increase the complexity of what their reading over the school year”

Combining their teaching techniques, the four teachers goal became to create a cohesive unified feel within the classroom.

“It’s nice that we can sit and have a conversation and know exactly what students we are talking about. Even with my students, when I reference other classes, it’s so nice that I know who their science teacher is. Math is a little different for some students but I know most most of them have Galazka and same thing with Spresney’s,” Crenshaw said. “So I feel like it feels like more of a community within our team and the students get to know everyone across teams, but they feel more like a little niche within the high school as opposed to being this free floating person”

As a community, the Discovery team of teachers communicate and consult day-to-day on their lesson plans. Teaching their students the skills valuable for life experiences, the team made it their goal to begin to prepare students for college or trade schools.

“A lot has changed [in] our lesson plans. So that takes a lot more focus and intentionality and I feel like all those things are changing our lesson plans too. Everyday in class for the most part, we are all teaching the same thing. We also started looking at skills that are going to transcend high school content, like information that some students feel is relevant, we tried to make it more relevant.”

As well as developing their teaching style, the unit of teachers began to make strong, dependable connections with their students through one-on-one conferences and class discussions. In addition to getting to know their students, Ms. Crenshaw also made it her personal goal to make her students more comfortable in the new classroom environment.

“[They are doing] more individual work, like we’re doing a lot of reading conferences this year, with students, a lot of writing conferences, we still do try to incorporate a lot of group work,” Crenshaw said. “Specifically, I know last year I had my tables in rows this year just thinking about how they want the academy to function, I put them in tables instead. As I get to know students, I’m more intentionally grouping them, knowing they will be working with each other.”

As the results continue to grow, the anticipation for the success of the academy grows within team Discovery.

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