Bloomington High School is starting a pilot program to help students better connect with their teachers in ways to help them stay on track with their academics.
BHS Principal Tim Moore presented plans for the advisory period to the District 87 school board Wednesday during its regular meeting.
Starting in January, the advisory period will run 23 minutes from 9:10 to 9:33 a.m. each Tuesday and Thursday. Each class period is being shortened by four minutes to allow for the advisory time.
Moore said teachers can use the time to work with students individually or in small groups in ways regular class time generally doesn’t allow, such as checking up on their grades, helping them prepare for tests and setting goals in and beyond the classroom.
“Some of those social skills we want to be able to teach them also,” Moore said. “We assume kids know how to do all these things and we know that we need to teach the expected behaviors in our school, and this is one way we think we can do that.”
Moore said the advisory time will help teachers address students’ social and emotional needs, which has become an increasing concern for educators.
“Our school, our district, all schools across the whole country are seeing this huge increase in students who are having social and emotional needs,” Moore said. “I really think (educators) are all grasping and trying to figure out how can we support them even more than we are already doing.”
Moore said teachers were trained last year in mental health first aid training through the McLean County Health Department. He said that has helped prepare them to take on the additional responsibility.
“Our teachers came to us and said the guidance staff can’t do it by themselves,” Moore said. “As time goes on the needs of our students are going to continue to increase. It’s our responsibility to help those students.”
Under the pilot program, students would be assigned to the same advisory teacher all four years in high school to further strengthen those connections.
Moore said it will be run as a pilot program through the spring 2020 semester. He said if it’s successful, he will seek to expand the program to five days per week.
Karen Irvin with the group McLean County Moms Demand Action urged District 87 school board’s delegate to the Illinois Association of School Boards to reject a proposal to give schools the choice to arm their teachers with guns.
The measure is scheduled to be considered at the association’s annual meeting in Chicago this weekend.
“We want the delegate from this school board to vote ‘no’ to the resolution and to find other ways to make schools safe that do not include arming people in the school,” said Irvin, a retired grade school teacher of 32 years.
District 87’s delegate, School Board President James Almeda, told Irvin he would not support the measure.
Superintendent Barry Reilly said some school districts who might be farther away from police agencies and first responders, such as those in rural areas, might see the benefit of arming teachers, but said he would not advocate guns in District 87 schools.
“Because of our location, we are quick with our first responders,” Reilly said. “They are able to get to our buildings in very short order.
“I am not anxious to do anything that is going to put a weapon into someone’s hands that’s not highly trained.”
Moms Demand Action formed after the Sandy Hook grade school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. The McLean County chapter formed in March following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in Central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.