PERU — Peru Central School District is working to better serve the social, academic and emotional needs of its seventh- and eighth-grade students, officials say.
“As we have evolved with our so many years of budget reductions and the restructuring of the district, one of the school components that really has lost an identity is that really unique adolescent age of what is either considered middle school or ... middle-level education,” Peru Secondary School Principal Christopher Mazzella said during a recent School Board meeting.
Mazzella was Peru High School principal until March, when the district’s middle and high schools were combined to create the Secondary School. He and former Peru Middle School Principal Cheryl Felt, now associate principal of the Secondary School, have been collaborating with faculty and staff to establish a plan to better support the building’s seventh- and eighth-graders.
That plan, Mazzella told meeting attendees, calls for the implementation of teaming structures, which would involve dividing the seventh- and eighth-grade populations into smaller groups of students who would work with teams of teachers from multiple disciplines.
This would allow teachers to collaboratively support students, he said, rather than work independently without much opportunity to communicate about their needs.
“Within the teaming structure, the teachers would be able to work together on co-curricular projects, (and) they would have common planning time,” Mazzella said. “They would actually be able to have a group of people to make the transition for the kids stronger.”
Peru Middle School successfully implemented a teaming structure in the past, he added, but was unable to maintain the model it was using due to budget cuts.
The goal for the future, Mazzella noted, is to create a successful model using what resources the district has available.
“One of the things that has evolved with the lack of the structure of teams in middle school is a lot of the curriculum has not stayed united and has been overlapped,” he said.