Palo Alto High School Principal Kim Diorio is welcoming the 2014-15 school year with optimism and candor, according to comments she made at the first Parent Teacher Student Association General Association Meeting of the school year last night at Paly’s Media Arts Center. Diorio addressed the improved learning spaces, new teacher leadership positions and smaller class sizes.
The MAC and History/Math building are two of several improvements to the Paly campus. The new additions received positive feedback from the public, according to Diorio.
According to Diorio, the demolition of the gyms has been delayed due to budget issues. If the final price comes in at budget or below, the renovation process is set to start around Dec. 15. The library is also set to be renovated some time in the future.
In addition to the new features of the campus, there are new staff positions designed to help better the school community.
“We’ve created some additional teacher leadership positions on campus called TOSAs – Teacher on Special Assignment,” Diorio said. “Some of our teacher leaders are focused on incorporating technology in the classrooms, helping and supporting teachers so that the lessons are more engaging.”
Another beneficial aspect is the smaller class sizes. Most freshmen and sophomore English courses have 19 to 20 students in each class, according to Diorio.
“We really wanted to lower those class size ratios so that our teachers are able to have more opportunities to personalize the learning for students and give them feedback in a more timely fashion,” Diorio said.
In order to further enhance students’ learning experiences, some of the classrooms have new furnishings.
“When teachers are teaching – even if it’s direct instruction – a lot of times, we find that [students] are moving maybe in the [new swivel] chairs, but their eyes are still focused on the teacher,” Diorio said. “So just being able to move their body a little bit and that sensory motor integration is really important in terms of keeping them focused.”
In addition to the presentation, Diorio held a Q&A session for the parents. The PTSA also approved the new budget and bylaw changes at the meeting.