Student Scheduling Timeline Reviewed
WESTFIELD — “If I had to choose a word of the year, it would be opportunity,” Scott Cooper, Westfield Academy and Central School high school guidance counselor, told members of the Westfield Academy and Central School Board at a special presentation recently where he described the scheduling process.
“What kind of opportunities are we going to provide for our students, not only in this year of the pandemic, but in future years?” Cooper asked.
With this as a guiding thought, Cooper presented the master scheduling timeline to the board, beginning with the month of October when he sends a letter to teachers to survey potential course offerings.
Courses are based on teacher interest, Cooper said, as well as research and development and suggestions from the faculty. Electives, on the other hand, are based on student interest, and the offerings are rotated, he added.
Cooper told the board that November and December are dedicated to meetings with teachers where discussions are held about adding and dropping courses, as well as updating course descriptions.
“We want a well-rounded program and we want to meet the diverse needs of all of our students,” he said.
In January, the course description booklet is made available on the school website and in the Guidance and Counseling Department, and presentations are done during English 11 class and English 8 class, he said. In February class presentations are given during English 9 and 10 classes, and course selection begins, he added.
Cooper told the board that course selection ends in March and course selection numbers are sent to the administration. This is also the time when the eighth grade parent/student night is held and the Jamestown Community College English Placement Examination is given, if necessary, he said.
April and May are the critical months for building the master schedule, and many factors must be taken into account, Cooper said. New York State graduation requirements, room availability, partnerships with JCC and SUNY College at Buffalo, Career and Technical Education and several other factors impact the creation of the schedule, he said.
Individual student schedules are completed, as well as the master schedule, before the school year ends in June, Cooper said. The completed schedule is distributed to the Westfield Teachers’ Association for questions and clarification before it is finalized and given to teachers at the end of the school year, he said.
Cooper told the board that three students agreed to speak about the scheduling process at WACS and they would be joining the ZOOM meeting. Seniors Owen Bates, Emma Heim and Kaleb Johnson told board members about their experiences with selecting their classes.
Bates said he compares the first half of his freshman year to Alice in Wonderland because he didn’t have a plan and the only thing of which he was certain was his love of music.
“Mr. Cooper laid out the music classes for me to take throughout high school,” he said. “He did the same for me with math courses.”
Bates told board members that he hopes to major in biomedical engineering, so it was important to make good selections for math and science courses.
“I feel that I’ve really been able to prepare myself by taking the right science and math classes,” he said. “Mr. Cooper has a simple but efficient method of creating everyone’s schedules.”
Bates said that the way Cooper builds the schedules allows for students to learn more and to be very prepared for the future.
“Also, Mr. Cooper keeps each kid’s schedule very flexible and balanced, so students don’t feel overwhelmed,” he said.
Emma Heim told board members that she was very excited to have the opportunity to speak at the meeting.
“Scheduling classes is like Christmas to me,” she said. “I’ve taken upper level and college level courses here.”
Heim said she came to high school at WACS, having been homeschooled. She described the many unique choices she made throughout her high school career, as well as her insistence on having no study halls.
“Mr. Cooper has always gotten the classes I wanted into my schedule,” she said. “I’ve never stuck to a regular schedule.”
Heim told the board that Cooper’s choice of “opportunity” as the word of the year is perfect because each student at WACS is provided with the opportunity to “broaden their horizons” and be well prepared for the future.
Kaleb Johnson moved to Westfield from New Jersey in the summer of 2019, and he told the board that his schedule was very simple and easy.
“I’m one of the kids who goes to BOCES,” he said.
Johnson said he wanted to do something with his hands, so he choose construction engineering. He told the board that he is also in the Army National Guard, and Cooper’s flexibility has enabled him to complete his training and to work at something he likes.
“Now, I’m able to graduate while doing something I enjoy,” he said.
Cooper addressed the board after Bates, Heim and Johnson completed their narratives, noting that each of the three students has a unique story to share. Nevertheless, they all believe that the courses offered at WACS and through partnerships with other institutions, and the cleverness with which Cooper creates the schedule have given them incredible opportunities.
“It’s important for everybody to see what an awesome program we have,” Cooper said.