Every school year comes with changes but in Canton those coming for 2013-2014 are quite substantial.
Those include major projects, changes in leadership and the introduction of the team concept in sixth-grade.
Canton High School has undergone significant changes in leadership. Drew DiPippo has replaced retired principal Gary Gula and Eric P. Verner has assumed the role of assistant principal, taking over for Sashi Govin, who left to lead Dag Middle School in Wallingford.
The two have been working hard this summer, have met with teachers and have some exciting initiatives, Superintendent Kevin Case said.
“They both have plans for bringing the school together more,” Case said.
In just one example, school administrators and others are working on an October Spirit week that will coincide with Alumni weekend. Activities will include a pep rally and nighttime games.
“We’re trying to build more support for our athletic teams,” Case said. “We’re hoping to create that enthusiasm.”
There are few other staff changes, including some adjustments in physical education due to the retirement of Heidi Zacchera, some changes in the art department and a new English teacher — Leigh Connole, who is coming from Housatonic Valley Regional High School.
Changes are coming to teacher evaluations as well. Last year, parents and teachers filled out electronic surveys for the first time, Case said.
“Those results will be used to set goals for the upcoming year,” Case said.
For the end of this school year, the surveys will be refined and formally become part of a teacher’s evaluation.
Academically a big change in Canton is the introduction of the middle school team concept at the sixth-grade level. While a study to potentially bring those students to the middle school itself deemed it unfeasible at the moment, educators are incorporating more of the philosophy in sixth grade.
The concept involves teams. Each teacher has just one subject and is assigned a team. The teachers from each team are then able to share information, coordinate curriculum and discuss ways to help any struggling students.
“All the teachers get to know a smaller number of students and help them not only academically but also emotionally and socially,” Case said.
In addition, the common core state standards adopted by Connecticut and much of the country also require a greater level of specialization, Case said. Teaching just one subject greatly helps.
Students will also have a different teacher for each subject.
Students still start the day in a homeroom, where teachers can discuss relevant topics or issues.
One of the most visible changes in town has been the Canton Middle/High School Parking Lot, track and multi-use field project. Last week, the project contractor said crews were working hard to meet the Aug. 22 deadline.
Case reiterated that the school will be all set to open its doors on time.
“School will open on Aug. 28,” Case said. “There’s no issues there.”
If any special parking arrangements are required, especially with orientations this week, parents will be notified, Case added.
New traffic patterns will also be noted and staff will be out for several days to help direct motorists, Case said. Many of the changes in the lot are designed to improve flow, safety and access for emergency vehicles.
There will now be one entrance and two exit lanes. A secondary access is for pedestrians and emergency vehicles.
The track/field portion of the project is due to be completed in late September. The scoreboard and bleachers were not part of the $3.6 million project but fundraising efforts will likely be forthcoming.
Equipment was also separate but $15,000 worth of field and track equipment has been ordered, Case said.
Projects at Canton Intermediate School include a new roof for portions of Canton Intermediate School and the completion of a window project that had been delayed last summer due lack of availability for some parts.