Upper Division Summer Initiatives

Read how Casady Upper Division has prepared for the 2019-20 school year and embrace the new and exciting schedule!
 As the first day of school approaches, I want to welcome each of you to the 2019-2020 school year! I am excited that it’s almost time to put our new UD schedule into practice!
This new schedule is the product of years of dedicated work by Casady’s students, teachers, and administrators, with direct assistance from Dr. Bryan Smyth of Independent School Management. We knew that changing our daily schedule would be a lot of work, and we were right!
Some of you might be wondering why we took on this monumental task. Well, we took on the challenge for a variety of reasons, most notably for the health and well-being of the students, and their teachers. We often referred to our old schedule as a treadmill set on fast, or really fast!
Most of the students have already figured out or will quickly learn some of their “wins” with the new schedule: a later start, teachers’ daily office hours for extra help, less “homework” (because every class doesn’t meet every day), and more time during the day to work on assignments, just to name a few.
Some of the students will need some help to capitalize on some of their wins. For example, the students will have more “free time” during the day--to work on their assignments, to get extra help, or to hang out with friends. We encourage you to have a conversation with your child, class schedule in hand, about this “free time” during the school day and about how much work he or she can accomplish during a fifty-five minute break. We want students to spend time with their friends at school. We also want students to have less work to do at home!
From the teachers’ perspective, for the past several years, Casady’s teachers have been making a shift from speed to depth and from content to skills. Think of Blue Crystals in the Science Department and the Harkness Method in the Humanities. These shifts are right in line with the current research about teaching and learning.
Our new UD schedule will help our faculty to continue this shift from speed to “deeper level learning” and continue the shift from a focus on content to a focus on skills. Students need time to delve more deeply into a concept and to put their skills into practice--more than forty-three minutes! The longer class periods will make a huge difference.
I have every confidence that your child and his or her teachers will thrive with this new schedule. I also have every confidence that teachers, students, and parents will support each other as the School transitions into this new schedule. An “extra” ten minutes of class might not seem like much, but those ten minutes, along with classes not meeting every day, will mean that the teachers will need to make significant changes. Please be patient!
In one sense, this new schedule represents the most significant change in the UD since I returned to Casady as a teacher in 1996. In another sense, this new schedule will help the UD teachers continue making the kinds of changes they have been making for years, searching for new ways to engage their students in deeper-level learning.
Have a great rest of your summer and a great start to the school year!
Jon Powell, Ph.D. '80
Upper Division Director
Casady School is an independent, co-educational, college preparatory, Episcopal day school serving students in pre-k-12. Educating Mind, Body, and Spirit.