Canal Winchester High School plans new student schedule options for fall

Jack McLaughlin
ThisWeek
Canal Winchester High School rotunda

Big changes are underway for Canal Winchester High School students starting with the 2021-22 school year. 

The schedule change comes from the high school’s participation in the Cross-State High School Redesign Collaborative, in which schools from seven states work with Johns Hopkins University to use peer-to-peer networking and evidence-based strategies to help optimize school models. 

Other Ohio schools in the program include Harding High School in Marion, Riverview East Academy in Cincinnati, Shaw High School in East Cleveland and Zanesville High School. The Ohio Department of Education is working with Johns Hopkins and the participating Ohio schools as well. According to the ODE, schools were chosen to participate through a selective application process which aimed to represent schools throughout the state. 

In the fall, Canal Winchester High School students will be able to choose either a traditional in-person schedule with seven periods plus a lunch period; an in-person block schedule, where classes meet less frequently but for longer times; or online learning. 

These schedule changes, which are permanent, will be available for all grade levels at the high school. 

While some assignments may change for teachers of students who select a block learning model, Principal Kirk Henderson said he doesn’t envision teacher workloads changing.  

“Most teachers teach six out seven periods, and it’s going to stay that way,” he said. “We’ve looked it at, and we think staffing’s not going to be an issue.” 

Henderson said the redesign has been in the works for several years, with the district creating a committee of staff instructors, led by Canal Winchester High School English teacher Robert Harris; it was formed in 2019 to oversee the schedule change. 

“We’ve been looking at this for the last couple of years, and it was just time to get it in place and get it on paper,” he said. “Our teachers, I think, are ready for a change.” 

Canal Winchester Board of Education President Michal Yonnotti, a former teacher, voiced his support for the change at the board’s Feb. 8 meeting. 

“We’re excited to see how this all works. I think it’s very interesting,” he said. 

According to board member Matt Kreuger, the board did not vote on the change, having given Superintendent James Soltar authority to adopt scheduling changes last August.  

“This schedule, we think, is going to allow a lot of flexibility for students to just have a lot better opportunities to prepare them for their futures,” Henderson said. 

One of those ways is by offering students the ability to get a head start on college or career learning, he said.

If they choose, students will be allowed to get a grab-and-go lunches so they can devote their lunch periods to another class. This will let them catch up on needed credits or make space in their schedules to pursue internships and job shadowing opportunities during school time as juniors and seniors. 

Henderson said the new schedule also will provide time for the district to teach students a full complement of day-to-day skills that can be overlooked in educational settings. 

“We’re also going to have regular activity periods where we can get members of the community to come in and teach life skills with our students, things we don’t talk much about any more like how to change the oil in a car, how to change a tire, a way to wire up a light socket in your house,” he said. “Different things that we don’t get to spend a lot of time doing but that are still very important in everyday life.” 

As part of the new scheduling system, there will be regular job fairs at the high school for students who want to seek employment upon graduation and college fairs for students looking to continue their education. 

“It’s about those three E’s: enlistment, enrollment and employment,” Henderson said. “Whichever avenue a student takes, it’s going to allow them to focus more on that.” 

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