School district to have departmental teaching for elementary school

Suttons Bay Public Schools is departementalizing its elementary school, meaning one teacher will teach one subject to all the 3rd through 5th graders.

Suttons Bay Public Schools is trying something new this year with its teachers this school year.

The district is departementalizing its elementary school, meaning one teacher will teach one subject to all the 3rd through 5th graders.

Teachers are confident that this type of teaching will contribute to an overall better quality education for students.

"Being able to get that gain that knowledge from a teacher (from) their specialty area that's (is) the best thing that can happen for a student," teacher Penny Emeott said.

It might be a win-win situation for a district that's struggling financially. Suttons Bay Public Schools' new superintendent inherited a $400,000 deficit. He believes this departmentalized instruction will help avoid more teacher layoffs, while also enhancing the quality of students' education.

"With our focus being on the students first, we think that we've managed to cut about six to seven thousand dollars of that deficit going into the school year," Chris Nelson, Suttons Bay Schools Superintendent, said.

While the superintendent hopes it saves money, he believes it could pay off for students too.

"As a parent, as an administration, it's a perfect scenario," Nelson said. "If you have a teacher that's extremely excited about teaching a specific subject and you can have all of your kids grades three, four, and five have that teacher; then that is just a very fortunate scenario for us to be able to departmentalize."

Three of the school's teachers chose to specialize in math, social studies and science. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students will rotate from class to class, almost like a high school schedule. This is a shift from a typical homeroom classroom where a student stays with the same teacher the whole day. Teachers think that this is a perfect age for students to start this process.

The community is rallying behind the administration's philosophy of this new teaching system.

"I think that when students are taught by teachers who really love their subject matter, it makes a big difference in their learning," Lisa Murphy, mother of three Suttons Bay students, said. "I think this allows third through fifth grade teachers to really specialize in the field that they love."

"Suttons Bay is on the cutting edge of this particular philosophy, which we're excited to be a part of," Emeott said.

The elementary school is also giving out iPads to each student with the goal of helping improve the learning process even further. Teachers are in training to adjust to these changes for the upcoming school year. They are holding an open house on August 28th for the community to see more before classes start.

Nelson also does YouTube updates for parents and students to stay updated with these changes.

These changes will start up on September 2nd for the first day of classes.