The New WAEC

The academic year is nearly two months old but that doesn’t mean everyone is settled in yet at the Warren Area Elementary Center.

With the closure of South Street Early Learning Center at the conclusion of last school year, WAEC is now a K-5 facility.

And that hasn’t come without some bumps in the road.

Interim Director Ruth Nelson, who said she spoke with the teachers at each grade level, presented the positives and concerns raised by those individuals during the Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee meeting held on Monday night at the Warren County Career Center.

In a report submitted to the board, Nelson said “a common thread of concern centered around the cafeteria, supervision in the cafeteria and congestion in the cafeteria hallway. The most prevalent positives were interaction between colleagues and the professional support for one another. One teacher, who also has a child in kindergarten, noted the positive experience for her child.”

“Kindergarten teachers are having a hard time adjusting,” the report states. “For some of them teaching in a K-5 schools is new as they started their careers in the K/1 center. The size of the student body combined with new curriculum, larger class sizes and decreased Title I support has been overwhelming to most of them. The other grade levels are aware of their anxiety and trying to support them.”

The report details the positives and concerns highlighted by the teachers in each grade level.

The kindergarten teachers cited new sound amplification as the lone positive but claimed there is too much traffic in the hallways and one noted that the “K/1 program fell apart and took a step backwards” as the result of the consolidation.

First grade cited, among other things, leadership and support from principals, supportive co-workers and grade levels working together as benefits. One teacher noted “everyone has been so helpful.” Transportation concerns were cited by several grades, including first, who also noted that bathrooms have been challenging, both in size and height.

A second grade teacher said they “love having K/1 here” and another said “it’s gone very well.” They cited professional interaction, communication with a student’s former teachers and a “disconnect between first and second” grades that has been eliminated. As far as concerns, they said that toilet paper and paper towels are in short supply because there is “not enough custodial time to keep up with all student needs.”

At the third grade level, the report said that third grade classes have adopted kindergarten classes which has facilitated “good student interaction.” For concerns, they cited reservations about little open time for outside activities with the playground full with all six grade levels and a “need (for) more outside room for running with the younger students.” They also cited congestion in the cafeteria hallway and lobby, as did fourth grade.

Fourth grade cited a “need to be careful with the little children” and fifth grade cited multiple cafeteria concerns, such as a need for additional staff.

Nelson said the cafeteria issues are something that she will examine further in the coming weeks.