New homerooms, principal build CF relationships

By Kellie Petersen 2009

Homecoming is just around the corner at Cedar Falls High School, but this year students will be “coming home” at least once every week as they attend their newly established homerooms every Wednesday from 9:41-10:06.

The school day still starts and ends at the same times, and other periods of the day contribute some time in order to make this eighth period possible.

The idea for homerooms came from a recent state push to improve the progress of secondary schools. The four R’s — rigor, relevance, relationships and reflection — are the target areas in this statewide initiative, and Cedar Falls, like many other school districts, chose homerooms as a way to adopt the relationship component of this initiative.

Dr. Rich Powers, the new CFHS principal, said that the relationships and reflection parts of the four R’s are important.

“People typically don’t lose jobs because of what they don’t know. They lose them because of their interactions with other people,” Powers said. He also said that homerooms create the opportunity for students to build stronger relationships with teachers and to gain a stronger appreciation for each other.

“I’m excited because it’s a very student-centered solution,” Powers said.

The planning for homerooms began last year during the professional development days.

Diane Flaherty, an English teacher at CFHS, is the chair of the committee for homerooms.

Science teacher Marcy Hand, FCS teacher Linda Schutte, industrial technology teacher Linda Sneed and physical education teacher Jamie Smith, as well as 11 other people are the other members of the committee.

When writing the homeroom curriculum, they looked at the issues in Cedar Falls High School and also consulted Character Counts, a curricular resource for buiding positive social skills in the areas of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Each committee member picked important lessons and pulled them together that way. “They are wonderful people. They’re really making this work,” Flaherty said.

Since homerooms are a new idea, it is not certain how well they are working at this time.

“I’ve heard some really good comments from faculty and students, but it’s still not a perfect system. It’s still in its infant stages. I just hope that faculty and students will reserve judgment and give it time,” Flaherty said.

“I think the students, at least in my home room, have been very active in participating,” Flaherty said. Students such as junior Tim Jackson said he enjoys the new program.
“I like homerooms. It’s a change during the week,” Jackson said.

Students like sophomore Cody Zey like the chance that homerooms offer to meet new people.

Although there are many supporters of the program, everyone may not agree with the way homerooms are run.

“I don’t think we need to do it every week. It should be more bi-weekly,” sophomore Ben Morris said.

Junior Tyler Sweet said that the idea behind homerooms is good, but the way they are done confuses people.

It is still not clear whether homerooms are successful or will need some work, but as Principal Powers put it: “Change is always an opportunity for growth.”

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