Windermere High students and teachers currently are set to move forward with a brand-new scheduling model for the 2021-22 school year.
Next school year, the Windermere Wolverines will have a unique opportunity to make their schedules look different than they have in the past.
Windermere High administrators officially introduced the Windermere Dynamic Schedule model to parents and students in a virtual presentation Monday, Jan. 11.
The WDS model offers a 10-period school day in which students can choose any seven periods, contiguous or not. Classes would be offered from 7:20 a.m. to 5:08 p.m., or 3:28 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The innovative schedule targets students with available transportation who require more flexibility for athletic training, work, sibling care and volunteer opportunities, or those who need a later start time.
“This year, high school principals were asked by the superintendent if you had any out-of-the-box ideas on scheduling,” Principal Douglas Guthrie told attendees. “Four schools in Orange County said yes, and Windermere High was one of those four. The others are East River, University and Evans high schools.”
Guthrie said the administration team first approached teachers to gauge their interest in this type of a dynamic schedule. When the teachers were interested in hearing more, administrators then talked to the Parent Teacher Student Organization, School Advisory Council and a student focus group. The response, Guthrie said, was positive.
After holding an information session for the faculty on dynamic scheduling and taking a vote, teachers were on board with trying it.
“We are collecting right now teacher requests as far as which schedule they would like to teach on,” Guthrie said. “We also did a Think Tank with our coaches and our extracurricular sponsors — band, chorus, drama, dance — all those other things that happen after school and asked them to give us a schedule of when they think they would have practice based on an alternative schedule like this.”
Assistant Principal Sheri Robb said although the school day is expanded, the required hours for students and time in each class period are not. WDS allows scheduling flexibility for students and teachers, including availability of later start times. The standard first- through seventh-period schedule also will remain available for students who want to stick with the traditional schedule.
Dr. Taylor Plumblee, assistant principal of instruction, said students would have the opportunity to come to campus, take classes, potentially take a break in the middle of the day, and then continue their classes later on.
“We are really excited about what this gives students,” Plumblee said. “We definitely want to take into account what our students, families, faculty and staff all were needing, but most importantly the flexibility for students. For students for whom early-morning classes are not a good option, you’ve got the opportunity to do a later start time, and students could continue their classes much later in the evening than is currently available to any students in our county. … There is still a standard option, and we recognize that this model with later start times may not be for every student.”
When students begin building their schedules for the next school year, they will be able to choose the class periods they would like to be on campus or off campus for. These decisions will help determine how to build the master schedule for the coming school year to meet the needs of as many teachers and students as possible.
“At this point, all students and all teachers are moving forward with the Windermere Dynamic Scheduling model, so you will be expressing to us what periods your student wants to be on campus and what periods your student wants to be off campus,” Plumblee said.
Some students, such as student-athletes or those participating in certain extracurriculars, may have to stick with the traditional first- through seventh-period — or second- through eighth-period — day as those schedules require. Students who schedule a break in the middle of the day can use the student union for homework or study time, and they will be supervised.
Others who do not participate in such activities have more flexibility and can choose any seven class periods they would like. However, anyone taking classes beyond the traditional first- through seventh-period schedule must be able to provide their own transportation. Orange County Public Schools transportation will continue to operate as it does currently.
“There are other schools outside of Orange County that have done this, but this is the first time OCPS has provided this opportunity,” Plumblee said. “The sky is the limit in terms of who this can help with the innovative scheduling.”