There will be new faces on the campus of Knox County Middle next year, as the district’s 6th-grade students make a move to their new school.
On Thursday night, the Knox County Board of Education approved new classifications of schools to prepare for the 6th grade transition. All elementary schools that feed into Knox County Middle and Knox Central will become PreK through 5th grade. Knox County Middle will become 6th through 8th. Lynn Camp is not impacted as their 6th grade is already in the middle school building.
“There are many positives for the move, the greatest being academic opportunities,” said Superintendent Jeremy Ledford.
“They will use the team approach where sixth grade students will be assigned to one of two teams, 6-Blue or 6-Gold. Each team will rotate through the same set of classes and be offered the same related arts classes. Each team will be composed of students from their elementary school, so there will be familiar faces and opportunities to make new friends.”
Ledford continued to state that each teacher will be assigned to a specific subject for which they have middle school certification to teach. The core subjects of English, Math, Science and Social Studies will be part of the daily rotation of classes for students.
“The teachers moving to the sixth grade must have middle school and content certification, unlike at the elementary school where often teachers can move between grade levels and content areas depending on the school needs.”
Classrooms for the 6th grade will be in the school’s gymnasium building complete with lockers for each student. Construction is planned for the summer to provide minor additions and changes to classrooms, an addition of a security vestibule at the front entrance, and a clerk and assistant principal office.
“The sixth grade will have their own assistant principal, counselor, and administrative clerk to assist with daily operations all contained within the gym building,” explained Ledford.
“These will be trusted adults, just like at their elementary school, that they will get to know and will become comfortable going to.”
The logistics and decisions being made center around keeping 6th grade students together, and not mixed with other middle school students. Sixth grade students will only leave the building for lunch and a possible related arts class. Even then, they will not be changing at the same time as 7th and 8th grade or be having lunch with 7th and 8th grade. It will be teams 6-Blue and 6-Gold only in the lunchroom or in the hallway.”
The district will have the 6th grade students separated from the time they leave their elementary school to go to Knox County Middle to the time that they return. Three buses will depart each elementary for Knox County Middle, one for 6th grade students, one for 7th grade, and one for 8th grade. The parent drop off at Knox County Middle is behind the gymnasium building, so the 6th grade students will have a very short distance to the gymnasium and classroom building.
“Our sixth grade students are moving on up, as the district moves towards being a top district in the state. Our middle school grades six through eight will mirror that of other highly successful middle schools with the same grade levels and additional learning opportunities. I want our students to be successful and I believe this change will achieve that.”
Many students may wonder how this will impact the athletics and academic teams that they participate in at the elementary level. The district is working with coaches of all extracurricular activities to ensure that there are 6th, 7th, and 8th grade extracurricular opportunities. This will allow the 6th grade students extra time to grow together as Panthers and become teammates.
“We know that students, families, and even staff will have questions about the transition,” said Ledford.
He continued to say that change is sometimes hard, as we are challenged to move outside of what we know.
“We will soon launch a sixth grade website that will be updated continuously with information for the upcoming school year. We want parents and students to be aware of those changes so they are prepared.
The feedback that was received from elementary parents through a survey that was conducted was reviewed and each question was sorted into groups of like-questions. The website will answer questions from the survey and additional questions closer to the first day of school. It will be the launch pad to a successful transition to sixth grade at Knox County Middle.”
The district also plans on releasing information about how the 6th grade transition will impact academic and extracurricular activities at the elementary level. The goal is to keep and expand on what the elementary school is able to offer.
Students and families will find the link soon on the school district’s website at www.knoxkyschools.com
“From having certified subject-specific teachers to opportunities to make new friends, this move to Knox County Middle will be a positive one for our students. Beyond core subjects like math and science, it will provide even more learning and extracurricular opportunities than what was offered at their elementary,” said Ledford.