The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

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(Clockwise from top left) ESL students Aaron Hernandez, Arely Torres Antonio, Hector Tapia, Zoe Gonzalez-Aguilar and Riziki Hussein
The English language-learning community offers a unique perspective on the school environment
Aidan Zajac, Josephine Velo, Rosie Hill, Alice Damashek, Isabella Figueroa, Sophia Wrzesinski, and Flora HarperDecember 6, 2023


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Toilet travesty
Toilet travesty
Juan Ortiz, Guest artist • December 4, 2023

Earlier start time allows Loy Norrix to improve education for both students and teachers while following state regulations

Credit: Aidan Zajac
Students enter Loy Norrix through the main entrance. Having arrived after the buses, they are responsible for getting themselves to school before 7:31 a.m.

Shortly before the beginning of the 2023-24 school year, many Loy Norrix (LN) students were surprised at a recent change to their daily schedules: the school day was now set to start at 7:31 a.m., an extension of two minutes from the previous 7:33 a.m. start time. 

This change in schedule, which confused some students at the beginning of the school year, is a result of Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) testing a new schedule for teacher professional development that LN Principal Christopher Aguinaga describes as an “early release” process.

“Many school districts across the country do a process for teacher professional development called early release,” said Aguinaga. “So, on certain days in the school year, students are released early so that teachers can focus on their professional development, learning and growth.”

Starting with the first session on Oct. 18, there will be four days during the school year when students will be released at 12:50 instead of 2:20. Students will still have all five class periods, but each hour will be shortened. Additionally, third and fourth hours will be swapped to keep lunch at roughly the normal time. 

To offset the loss of school time, the length of every full school day was increased by two minutes to ensure that the quota for minimum instructional hours set by the Michigan state government will be fulfilled. 

The new early-release program stands in contrast to the previous system, in which teachers would attend these sessions after they had completed an entire school day’s worth of work. Ultimately, one of the main goals of this new system is to achieve a more favorable work-life balance for teachers by avoiding those longer work days.

“The way we used to do PD [professional development], it was completely after school hours, which meant less time that teachers would have with their spouses, their families, their children. Now, with the early release, they can still get that professional development, but it’s taking up less of their personal time,” said Aguinaga.

It is not difficult to predict that many students will enjoy the four additional opportunities to go home early. For teachers, however, the early release schedule may not be a perfect fit for them. For math teacher and track coach Bradley Schmidt, the new schedule adds unnecessary confusion to the school day. 

“I have an issue, and I know other teachers do, with rearranging the schedule. It doesn’t make sense to go one, two, four, three [with class hours on early-release days],” said Schmidt. “I mean, I get the lunch idea, but I think there would be better ways around it. And I think it does pull away from our class time with kids with just having a half day.”

This change may also cause some logistical problems for parents all over KPS. While the two-minute adjustment caused by the shifted starting time was not very significant, the hour-and-a-half adjustment on early release days could create issues for some parents.

“As a parent, I also see it as difficult for people who don’t have the means — especially with elementary and middle-school age kids — to get their kids or have someone watch them, because it’s another day that they have to figure out babysitting or something like that,” Schmidt said.

Despite his criticisms of the new procedure, Schmidt predicts that early release will make professional development sessions more effective and is looking forward to working with other teachers to improve education at LN.

“I think the change is nice because it does make sure that all of our staff are at the meetings, rather than some of them having to get excused sometimes,” Schmidt said. “This way, there’s more staff there so we can get more ideas, have more collaboration, and be on the same page better.”

Aguinaga concurs with this idea, while also advocating for the improved hours for teachers that the early release program implements.

“The biggest benefit for teachers is helping them meet their work-life balance… the biggest benefit for students, you know, is that you’re going to have teachers that are better prepared to teach,” said Aguinaga.

With all of this in consideration, the new early release process may offer some benefits to the school district. Students and teachers alike will be able to enjoy more time away from school on certain days, while shifting professional development inside of working hours for educators will allow more of them to show up to these important sessions. 

Professional development gives teachers more tools to better educate students, so ensuring that they can attend is critical in helping students at Loy Norrix achieve their academic goals.

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About the Contributor
Aidan Zajac, Assistant Web Editor
Hey y'all! I'm Aidan Zajac, the assistant web editor at Knight Life, and this is my first year on the staff. I'm a high school senior and professional sandwich maker who enjoys answering questions about Loy Norrix and covering important figures in our community. My lawyer team has advised me to say that I have never violated the Geneva Conventions. Pronouns: they/them/theirs

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