The Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick welcomes back students today amid curriculum and schedule changes.
This year, the school will fully implement the Common Core Curriculum, a state-wide reading, writing and math standard.
Principal Kevin Strachan is enthusiastic about helping his students master the material.
“All kids learn all content areas at a really high level,” he said.
The Common Core also emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to school subjects.
“(It) is a pretty fascinating thing, and it has us collaborating at a deeper level,” Strachan said.
Some teachers are looking forward to a broad approach to learning.
Social studies teacher Keith Nolan plans to use statistics in lessons about the city of Frederick.
Cliff Geffen, a science teacher, similarly will incorporate math and even history into his physics lessons.
“It won’t be a one-stop shop,” he said through a sign-language interpreter.
Nolan is also excited to have his students work more with primary sources this year. They will read the Constitution and other historical documents.
“They will have to read the language that was used in (that historical period),” he said through the interpreter.
Having to analyze the sources instead or just reading an interpretation will help their critical-thinking skills, he said.
Another change at the school will be an adjusted schedule. Classes will be shortened from 90 to 80 minutes.
The 40-minute remainder will become an enrichment block, which will allow students to explore a wide variety of subjects such as chess, robotics and even yoga.
The offerings are yet to be finalized, however, Strachan said, as the faculty finalizes the logistics of the enrichment block. Those periods could also be used to allow students to make up tests without keeping them after school hours.
A high school sophomore, Mauricio Orozco believed the new class schedule might be a challenge, although he said he was looking forward to the new school year.
“It will be harder because you have more homework,” he said.
Kaitlyn Weeks has been attending MSD since she was young, but she said she imagined things might be a little different this year, her first year in the high school.
“I have more responsibilities,” she said.
Both Weeks and Orozco are involved with sports teams and said they will probably need to study hard to balance their academic and extracurricular lives.
Weeks was most looking forward to trying to get good grades and learning what she would need for the future.
Orozco was eager to challenge himself against his own performance.
“I want to do better than last year,” he said.
In addition to the changes within the classroom, the school will have a new bus loop. Strachan expected that the loop will help county buses coming from all around the state avoid backing up onto neighborhood streets.
Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.