Two of Johnson City’s elementary schools have enacted a program similar to the one room schoolhouse dating back to the 19th century.
Cathy Botts is a multiage teacher at Lake Ridge Elementary School where she instructs kindergarten, first and second grade all in one classroom.
“Lake Ridge is really special to me because when it opened up in 1999, Carol Boyd and I had started up a multiage program at Fairmont, and they wanted to bring it here,” Botts said.
The three multiage classrooms at Lake Ridge have 20 students each ranging from ages six through eight.
“We do what everyone else does,” Botts said. “We do two and a half hours of English and Language Arts, an hour of Math and then Related Arts.”
The success of this program is attributed to the relationships of the students who are different ages.
“The kindergarteners come in and they look up to the big kids,” Botts said. “When we have [Drop Everything And Read] time, we’ll let the younger [ones] cuddle up with an older [one], and they just get so interested in these stories and facts.”
While they are in the same classroom, the children are at different levels of difficulty. Kindergartens read books such as “Little Bear” and “Frog and Toad,” whereas the older grade levels read nonfiction books published by National Geographic.
“When I start teaching reading and how to put the sounds and letters together, they really want to [learn],” Botts said. “If the intrinsic desire is there, it will happen.”
For more information about a typical multiage classroom, watch this video: