August 4, 2011

Changes Abound as SCR-I Faculty, Staff Gear Up for New Year

by Hannah Kiddoo

With two weeks left before classes, Ryan Bergeson is preparing for his first year as principal of Scotland County R-I High School.

Originally from Webster City, Iowa, Bergeson holds degrees from Buena Vista University, Southwest Baptist University, and William Woods University. Bergeson taught in the Scotland County district between 2004 and 2007, coaching Varsity basketball for three of those years. Now, Bergeson is back and banking on his previous experience in the district to help lead the school.

"I think it will allow me to make decisions easier knowing the culture of the community and the students," he explained of his former teaching time at SCR-I.

Bergeson's administration will be enacting some major changes as the 2011-2012 school year begins.

Starting this year, students will switch from an A-B block schedule with four class periods a day to an 8-period schedule. This change will allow students to have shorter class sessions and more efficient teaching. With the previous system, unforeseen events, such as snow days, would alter the schedule and cause confusion amid students.

"Students will go from five minutes to transition to three minutes to transition from class to class," he said. The shorter time could cause an initial increase in tardies, but the tardy policy will be enforced. "Tardies, obviously, effect the instruction."

In addition, adjustments have been made to previously established rules, such as dress code and cell phone usage.

"The cell phone policy will be tweeked," stated Bergeson. "When they enter the building, they are to be out of sight and not heard," he said of phones. "They are not to be used until 3:09 when the last bell rings."

The high school building will be opened each morning at 7:45 and close at 4 p.m., and unless an extracurricular event is occurring, students will not be permitted to enter outside of those times. Students leaving the campus during school hours will be required to check out with the office and sign back in after returning.

The Scotland County high school's student handbook explains that providing an environment that is safe, healthy, and conducive to learning is a top priority for the school. Strict enforcement of rules is a step in achieving that goal.

Bergeson noted it might take time to adjust to some changes, such as the new schedule system. Still, students are expected to work with the faculty and staff to maximize their learning experience.

Curriculum will continue to be based on the Missouri Grade Level Expectations established by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Changes will be introduced in the way grades are managed, however, as a school-wide policy will be enforced on the way late homework is graded. The grading scale will also be adjusted, making 90% and above an "A" level grade.

Bergeson stated that the school is searching for a new vision statement that will reflect the goals of SCR-I. To do this, he's asking for the public's help. "We are seeking input from our district stakeholders which include faculty, staff, parents, students, and community members." During orientation, a suggestion box will be available for the community to submit ideas for a statement.

Classes at SCR-I resume August 18 with the first two days being half-days ending at 1:05. Orientation events will take place August 9; incoming 7th graders are invited to attend the event at 6 p.m. with orientation for freshman following at 7:30 p.m.

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