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Program to promote student, teacher interaction

January 18, 2018 GMT

North Platte High School teachers will implement a new program for the 2018-19 school year that will elevate interaction with students.

Lori Larson, journalism teacher, said teachers already build relationships with students, but the Bulldog Time program will help it to be more consistent.

“The No. 1 focus is to build relationships with a small group of students,” Larson said. “We want it to be an advisory class where we build on that main component.”

A committee of 14 high school staff met during the last semester to discuss the components of Bulldog Time. Representatives from that committee presented the program to the school board at its Dec. 11 meeting.

Billy Broeckelman, a math teacher at NPHS, shared the motivation for the program at that board meeting.

“Our inspiration to spark change came when we got the results from the Gallup Polls from two years ago,” Broeckelman said. “It really surprised us with a lot of the results and this last year, a lot of (the results) dropped even farther.”

The poll results that fell below district and national averages were answers to the following questions, the committee said:

» I have a mentor who encourages my development.

» I am involved in at least one activity such as a club, music, sport or volunteering.

» In the last seven days, someone has told me I have done good work at school.

» The adults at my school care about me.

» I have at least one teacher who makes me excited about the future.

The committee said in its report that with 1,237 students at NPHS, some students can fall through the cracks.

“North Platte High School is a big school and kids can hide in the numbers,” said Alice Boyer, English teacher and National Honor Society adviser. “We want to shine a light onto those students and build a foundation that will last a lifetime. This is a small-town action for a Class A school to make sure there is an encouraging adult for every student.”

The committee members said they were concerned the program would turn into students wandering the halls, visiting friends in other classrooms, free time, nap time or phone time.

“We have learned from our mistakes,” Boyer said. “We don’t want this to be a fancier sticker of mentor/advisory or other past homeroom style classes.”

There are currently four class periods in the school day, but Larson said next year a fifth period will be added to accommodate the Bulldog Time program.

Larson said the decision to implement Bulldog Time was a building decision and that Principal James Ayres was on board with the program. She added that the purpose was to make the interaction more personal.

“We want to get to know the students so we’re not just giving general advice out, but rather giving helpful advice,” Larson said.

The program will have themes for each day of the week. Mash-up Mondays will include rotating monthly topics, according to the committee report.

Think It Up Tuesday and Thursday will be the days when teachers confer one-on-one with students and build relationships. Other students will have curriculum to work on while teachers work with individuals.

Wednesday will be used to build awareness about career choices, and Fun-Time Friday will be a time for community.

“We plan to strengthen school spirit and pride and include fun competitions, as well as community service projects on Fridays,” Larson said.

Teachers will design their own program and collaborate on the lessons.

“We want to build on the strengths of all of our staff members to collaborate on lessons that work for North Platte High School,” said Jamie Allen, senior English teacher.