Exchange program to bridge the gap

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Exchange program to bridge the gap

Kavya Desikan, Staff Writer

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Tim Curran is a 7th-grade history teacher from Stony Brook Middle School who is piloting an exchange program with Amanda Everett, a history teacher at Westford Academy. The program was created by the head of the history department, Libby Porter,  in an attempt to bridge the gap between the middle and high schools here in Westford.

It was created to “allow people who are middle school and high school to switch for one year to basically see how the other group lives. One of the big disconnects is middle school and high school teachers and what our students are like, even within a two year change. It’s to give both sides an idea of where kids are at in both settings,” Curran said.

As of now, it’s only piloting in the history department with Curran and Everett, just to see how it would go.

Curran believes that this exchange program is an invaluable tool for teachers to have the opportunity to work in different environments. Curran has taught 7th grade for 13 years and says he finds it refreshing to see what it is like outside of the middle school while still knowing he has complete job security for the next year.

The job security is quite attractive to educators because normally if one wanted to move the fields in which they teach to experience something new, they’d have to quit their job. If the new job doesn’t work as well as their previous one, teachers find themselves resenting their position. By knowing they have job security in a scenario like this, teachers know they still have a fall back.

Curran believes that by closing the disconnect it helps educators see how much students have grown, both academically, intellectually, and emotionally.

Curran is also using his experiences as a high school teacher to help enhance his 7th grade students’ classroom experience, keeping a fair amount of writing activities in his classes, seeing that it is something high school puts a lot of value on.

As of now, Everett is teaching an 8th grade history class and the two plan to have monthly meeting to see how the exchange is working as well as sharing observations they collect as time passes.

The WA history department has been a great help to Curran as he learns to adjust to having multiple curriculums and lesson plans and answering any questions about high school specific practices, like the midterm exam.

“I think the opportunity to try something new, to stretch yourself professionally,” Curran said.

He plans to continue to advocate for this program in coming years.

“It’s a great benefit for people who want to do it,” Curran said.

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