Early release will benefit Aiken County teachers

AIKEN --- Aiken County schools will begin their early release program Wednesday to give teachers time for staff development.

The idea of letting students leave early on the first Wednesday of every month was piloted a couple of years ago at Busbee Elementary School, A.L. Corbett Middle School and Wagener-Salley High School.

Area 5 Assistant Superintendent Randy Stowe said the school district is acknowledging the importance of professional development.

"Business, industry or any large organization provides ongoing professional development to keep their staff members effective and efficient," he said.

The two extra hours are effective because teachers aren't worn out from the day, said A.L. Corbett Principal Debbie Bass.

"It gives us an opportunity to work from a common understanding because it's framed by our school improvement plan," she said. "This planning allows us to work as an entire faculty."

Individual planning is built into daily schedules, but that time is limited, and afternoons are booked with parent conferences or planning for the next day, administrators say.

One improvement at A.L. Corbett is better interdisciplinary support, Dr. Bass said.

"Regardless of the area they're certified to teach, they understand how each other's content area supports what they're doing," she said.

In Area 5, Dr. Stowe said, development centers on improving weaknesses, based on self-evaluations by the school.

"Districtwide, the emphasis will be on literacy. At the middle and high school level, we're working on reading and writing across all curriculums," he said.

At the end of Wednesday's session, teachers will be given a survey for principals and district officials to use in planning the rest of the year.

Dr. Bass said she encourages parents to make good use of the time for medical appointments.

Teachers even have a plan for students whose parents don't pick them up, Dr. Stowe said.

"We'll take care of any students that somehow miss a bus," he said. "It wouldn't be different than any other day."

Reach Julia Sellers at (706) 823-3424 or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com

EARLY RELEASE DAYS

Sept. 2

Oct. 7

Nov. 4

Dec. 2

Jan. 6

Feb. 3

March 3

May 5