Core program completes first two-year cycle

By Natasha Harvey

After concluding the first two years of the Core program, students and faculty have differing opinions on its progress. The Core program, which began in 2010, is an integrated program for freshman and sophomores, in which students have the same English and social studies teachers for both years. The teachers plan what their classes will be studying to coordinate with the other classes. The Core program aims to provide students with a comfortable atmosphere in which their English and social studies programs are closely intertwined.

“One [purpose of the program] is keeping the personalization of education so that we, the teachers, get a chance to know students, and by keeping students for two years…we get a chance to really know them, know their strengths and weaknesses and have them develop over their first two years of high school,” said Core social studies teacher Augusto Andres.“It was one of the best teaching experiences of my life…I saw huge growth [in my students] whereas when I taught just freshmen and just sophomores I didn’t see nearly as much growth,” said former Core social studies teacher Sharilyn Scharf.

One of the program’s major assets is that teachers have students for an extended period of time, and therefore get to know one another better, ideally creating a more comfortable learning environment. “It was great having kids for two years, and getting to know them so when I saw them again at the beginning of their sophomore year, I already knew where they were at intellectually, personally…and I didn’t have to take a couple of months to figure that out,” said Scharf.

          “Sharing kids and keeping kids together could make a more personalized classroom where you get to know your students strengths and weaknesses and be able to address them more effectively and doing that over a two year period would really allow you to accomplish your goals more easily than in one year,” said former Core English teacher David Tarpinian.

           However, having a perfect student-teacher relationship isn’t always possible. “One of my teachers I really love and the other I hate, and to change it I would have to get my parents and administration involved and it’s really complicated, so if you like one of your teachers and hate the other, like me, you’re screwed,” said one sophomore, who wished to remain anonymous.
Junior Emelia Michel had a neutral view on the program. “It was okay,” she said. “I didn’t have the best teachers, if you had different teachers I’d like it better. But you do get to know your teachers better and they get to know you better, so that’s good.”

“Some teachers are more interested in personalizing their classrooms than others, which is in no way suggesting that that’s a better teacher or a worse teacher, it’s just that some people are more comfortable getting to know their students than others,” said Tarpinian. “So I think it worked differently for different pairs. Overall it was very effective in addressing learning needs and creating a more community like atmosphere in classrooms.”

           “There were definitely times when [my students and I] would butt heads and that’s totally normal. I really liked all my students and it was sad to see them go,” said Scharf. “And I think that’s one of the strengths of the program is that you get to have that sustained relationship.”

Some parents thought that the Core program was such a success that they asked that English teacher, David Tarpinian, and social studies teacher, David Rice, continue teaching their students for junior and senior year. “We waited until scheduling came around and then we surveyed our kids anonymously to see if this really did have the interest of students and it did, all but one student in all three of our classes clearly [wanted to] opt out if [having the same teachers for junior and senior year] were the case for this year,” said Tarpinian, “It’s going exceptionally well. The biggest difference that I’ve noticed is that the kids that came to school this year…are more serious and ready to work.”