‘Don’t knock it just yet’: Hopewell teacher reacts to balanced calendar school year starting this month

The Tri-Cities

HOPEWELL, Va (WRIC) — With Hopewell City Public School students going back to school in less than ten days on July 26, teachers are preparing for the new balanced calendar. HCPS is the first public locality in Virginia to follow the calendar.

They’ll be teaching “intersession” classes during the breaks in the new calendar the school district is following.

Hopewell teachers will be able to teach a class other than basic subjects that are normally taught like Math or English. The class can be for a subject they choose and enjoy over one of those two-week breaks.

In fact, it may be a subject they might have never even taught before.

The balanced calendar, similar to year-round school, means most kids will be in class for 45 days, have a two-week break and repeat that over the year.

Students can enroll in those intersession classes for free during the breaks for things like scrapbooking or cooking.

First-grade teacher Lindsy Gwaltney teaches at Patrick Copeland Elementary. She said she’s excited HCPS decided to take the leap and begin the balanced calendar. She believes it will help prevent teacher burnout rate.

Gwaltney will teach a spring intersession class, possibly for students older than first grade. She got to choose something she really enjoys — cooking.

“I think that’s another positive of this is having the intersessions and having that time to kind of not take it easy but to breathe and do things that we like to do and things that the teachers enjoy and hopefully get the kids involved and get them to enjoy these things also,” Gwaltney told 8News Saturday.

Gwaltney said she believes this balanced calendar will also help prevent what teachers call the “summer slide,” where kids have trouble remembering what they learned in the year before they went on summer break.

After the calendar year ends, students and teachers will get a longer break in the summer totaling about five weeks. Students will also have a winter break and spring break during the year.

Byron Davis, who is leading the transition for the school district, previously told 8News HCPS decided to change to a balanced calendar to help ensure kids are physically and intellectually taken care of throughout the year.

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