Recent transformations shape how classrooms function


Mason Hedge

Room 116, the Life Skills classroom, is furnished with couches, high chairs and lighting covers to enhance the classroom experience for the students.

Mason Hedge, Managing Editor (Print)/ Co-Distribution Director

In recent years, Freedom Area High School has been through a lot of changes in staff members. With many of these changes taking place at the beginning of the year, expectations were high. But how have these classrooms changed since then?

Roughly two years ago, the school gained a new teacher for special education. That person is life skills teacher April English. Before making changes to the courses, the classroom got its own change to enhance the learning experience students would receive.

The students and I did a lot of cleaning,” English said. “I wanted them to have an active role in making their classroom their own. We rearranged and brought in new furniture to make our classroom feel more at home. We made some changes with lighting too. We added covers to the overhead lights to filter the bright lights.”

Not only was the classroom renovated, but so was the way the students were learning about the life skills that they need. They participate in the Life Skills and Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES) Lab classes. These classes have stayed similar to ones in the past, but English decided to add her own take on them.

“In the life skills class, the students learn social skills, learn to cook and clean. This is where Cafe 116 happens! The students have their own coffee shop in which they take and fill orders and deliver to the teachers. In the PAES Lab class, the students go to work! They punch in a time clock and complete their jobs for the day. There are five different categories of jobs in which the students rotate through. With this valuable class, the students learn important job skills such as working well with co-workers, reporting to work on time, completing jobs correctly and efficiently,” English said.

The life skills class wasn’t the only one to undergo changes. After former communication teacher Bradley Baldwin left Freedom at the end of last school year, communications teacher Emily Skirtich was the one to take his place. Since the beginning of the year, she also made some changes to the Communications class curriculum and to her classroom itself.

“I have made some small changes thus far to make the class more interactive. My students have presented 5 times so far this year, which I hope prepares them for future opportunities to speak in public and in front of the class. They have impressed me with their creativity and reasoning in their persuasive speeches and filmed presentations, so I am eager to see how they continue to showcase their learning in the months ahead. I am very proud of them for their hard work this first quarter,” Skirtich said.  

Other notable changes have been made at the high school. English teacher Heather Giammaria had her room completely remodeled and renovated. The risers in her room were removed along with the wooden panels on the walls. This renovation enhanced the learning of students and create a more pleasant working environment for all.

Change usually doesn’t happen right from the beginning. It takes a while for people to start noticing differences in the classroom. All in all, these changes are what shapes the future of Freedom, and these changes are sure to have a positive effect on the community. 

“Many of my students here at Freedom have shared their hopes for the future, such as attending a post-secondary school or a career, and I hope that I can help to guide them on their journeys and navigate these next few years of high school and beyond. I feel very lucky and blessed to be here at Freedom with such amazing students,” Skirtich said.