Hilltown Coop shrinks teaching team size, expands PE

  • Lara Ramsey tutors John McVey, 13, in the new math curriculum called Illustrative Math at Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Paula Ingram and John Beckum talk about the up coming year at the Hill town Charter School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Lara Ramsey tutors John McVey,13, in the new math curriculum called Illustrative Math at Hill town Charter School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • An example of the new math curriculum at Hill Town Charter School called Illustrative math. This problem was being solved by Lara Ramsey, a teacher, and John McVey,13. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

For the Gazette
Published: 8/22/2018 8:09:32 AM

EASTHAMPTON — To give seventh- and eighth-grade students the opportunity to form closer relationships with their teachers, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School in Easthampton has reconfigured its teaching teams so students have half the number of teachers

The teaching teams will be made up of two main teachers, compared to four in the past. On each team there will be a math and science teacher and a humanities teacher, who will teach social studies and language arts, said Lara Ramsey, director of teaching and learning.

“These smaller learning communities will be more beneficial for students and allow them to take academic and personal risks,” Ramsey said.

Humanities teacher Beth Adel said she is excited this new configuration will allow her to get to know her students better.

“We wanted to create a way for students to feel even more connected and known by their teachers, so that teachers can better guide students through the roller coaster of adolescence,” said Adel, who will teach language arts to a class of about 16 students in the morning, and social studies to the same group in the afternoon. “I will get to witness their different skills, moods, and ideas throughout the day, instead of seeing them for only a snapshot in one class a day.”

Adel said teaching different kinds of lessons to her students throughout the day will help them form better connections.

In another change at Hilltown, kindergarten to fifth-grade students will have two physical education classes every week with new physical education teacher, Alex Niemiec.

“He is our first full time PE teacher,” Ramsey said. “We’re excited about him because he has excellent teaching experience and he is also a runner.”

Niemiec ran track and field at Springfield College.

In addition to teaching physical education, Niemiec will be the coach for Hilltown’s two co-ed sports teams: running club in the fall and Ultimate Frisbee in the spring.

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