New Small Learning Communities create a fresh start for HS 1327 community


Photo courtesy of Nora Richard

Sophomore Nora Richard, part of SLC “!” does homework for her classes after school.

After having the same Small Learning Community (SLC) system since the early 1990s, High School 1327, formerly known as Drake, decided to create a fresh start with a new SLC structure.

There are eight SLCs different from last year. There aren’t any official names for these groups yet. For now, each SLC is referred to as one character of the word “PIRATES!,” which was decided before the school’s name change. 

Three teachers belong to each letter. There’s a science, English, and social studies teacher in each group, just like in the old SLCs. Instead of having each group focus on something different, they all have the same learning outline, but like always, every teacher teaches differently.

“We all spent a lot of time trying to work together, all of the SLC teachers, to try to figure out ways that we could make sure that all the students had a similar experience,” science teacher Alison Sherman said.

An issue brought up with the past SLC system was that each learning collaborative had varying curriculums, and unequal levels of rigor.

“People used to think that there was a much different experience in different SLCs, and so part of the reason why we started with a clean slate is because we were worried that people felt like they were having an inconsistent experience, and we wanted to fix that,” Sherman said.

Unfortunately for sophomores, SLCs from last year are divided into new groups, meaning they weren’t able to experience staying with the same people, an advantage that the SLCs are supposed to provide.

“Some negative parts of having a new group is that the relationships I formed with my teachers and classmates last year just kinda ended out of the blue, without being able to say a real goodbye,” sophomore Nora Richard said.

Another reason for the change was the competitive aspect associated with the old SLCs. This led to disappointment from students and even parents when they weren’t placed in their first choice SLC, because some were viewed as “superior” to others. It was also difficult to place students in their first choice SLC, which was a big part of the disappointment.

“I think that over the years there were a lot of reputations that got put into the small learning communities and to each individual one that weren’t necessarily accurate,” school counselor Kyle Kassebaum said. 

This gives the school an opportunity to try a new system and  work out the issues from past SLCs.