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Modified calendar at Harrison sees positive response through first half of school year

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Through one half of the school year, the staff at Harrison Community Learning Center says they would like to hang onto the modified calendar.

Harrison volunteered to pilot the modified calendar program after approval from the Board of Education earlier this year. In its current form, the calendar has a two-month summer break with school beginning Aug. 1 or 2, and concluding on June 1 along with three two-week breaks in the fall, winter, and spring.

At Monday night’s Peoria Public Schools Board of Education meeting, Principal of Harrison Community Learning Center Fabian Daniels shared results of a staff survey to review the first half of the pilot program. The survey showed that after the latest fall break, based on staff perceptions, disciplinary referrals had decreased, academic performance had increased and teachers had more time to implement social-emotional learning initiatives.

Harrison also hosted an “academic boot camp” over the fall break to provide students with further instruction and support over the pause. Daniels emphasizes that the breaks help students and staff return to school with a better mindset.

“I know on the traditional calendar there are three days off. Those three days are off just to lay your head down, close your eyes, and wake up and go back to work,” said Daniels. “We were able to say, ‘Okay, the first week, whatever you have to plan, you have those doctor’s appointments … that’s for you,’ but the last week was self care. We were able to do what we needed for our self [reflection].”

Superintendent Dr. Sharon Kherat expressed her appreciation for the willingness of Daniels’ and her staff to take on the pilot schedule. In her eyes, the pandemic has proven that personal wellbeing cannot be overlooked.

“Achievement may not necessarily increase significantly, but what the staff and the school appreciated was that wellness piece,” said Kherat. “When we’re talking about the pandemic, and the stress and the trauma, it seems such an appropriate modification to our schedule to inject that automatic break for our staff.”

Kherat stated that she hopes to vote on a districtwide adoption of the modified calendar in January.

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