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Eastlake Elementary adapts to changes with traditional schedule

Oct 05, 2017 09:52AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Changes came to Eastlake Elementary this year after the school schedule was changed from a year-round to traditional calendar. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

First-grade Chinese dual immersion teacher Bei Yang had just a few weeks to adjust to life in Utah before being ready to teach school at Eastlake Elementary.

Yang, who has taught English in China, Hong Kong, North Ireland and Hungary, wanted to teach Mandarin in Utah.

“I heard Utah is a top leader in dual-immersion education,” she said. “The students are interested in learning Chinese. They’re quite fast learners. They’ve already learned the numbers, rules and basic greetings.”

When Yang and three other Chinese dual immersion teachers arrived, they attended a one-week training at University of California in Los Angeles before arriving in Utah. 

Then, they moved to Utah and stayed with Eastlake host families while they set up their housing, transportation, banking, got their social security cards and driver’s licenses and attended state dual-immersion training, Principal Suzie Williams said.

“We gave them support as they settled in and made the adjustments to living here,” Williams said.

The adjustments weren’t just for Yang and the other three Chinese teachers who are teaching upper-grade students. Teachers and students alike faced changes at Eastlake, as it became a traditional school following the opening of nearby Golden Fields Elementary. 

The new Golden Fields Elementary opened this fall with 700 students on a traditional schedule, focused on science, technology, engineering and math education, said former Eastlake Principal now Golden Fields Principal Kyle Hansen.

Several Eastlake Elementary students and faculty now are at Golden Fields, leaving Williams to hire 21 new teachers for this school year.

While classroom size remains 20 to 30 students per class, Williams said there are more classes per grade. Last year, 1,254 students attended the school. This year, there are 84 more students than the projected 950.

Williams said the school has made adjustments for the students. For example, the computer lab has been turned into a sixth-grade classroom. The students are using the computer desks and wiring remains intact so if the student enrollment changes, it could turn back into the lab. 

In the meantime, Williams said they purchased a cart of 35 MacBook Air computers that can be used in classrooms as needed. These will join existing carts of Chromebooks and iPads. Eastlake Elementary already has a 2-to-1 ratio of students to devices.

A kiva also was turned into a third-grade classroom.

“We have pencil pillars and they were able to put the walls right around the pencils, so they’re still in our design,” Williams said. “I was told when they built the school, it was designed so the kivas could be turned into classrooms if they were needed.” 

The school still has two other kivas for teachers to collaborate or use for small presentations and performances.

Another change was changing the fifth- and sixth-grade supply room into the school resource room. A former office now houses the upper grades’ supplies and copier.

Williams said with 1,034 students lunch and class rotations have schedules changed. Physical education also has been a challenge, but teachers have taken breaks in their schedules to allow students to do games or have dance breaks.

“We all are making adjustments for our community,” she said. “A district poll said 80 percent of the parents want traditional schedules, and this year we’re able to do that.”  

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