Darren Doyle, story and photo:
If you're like most students and parents, you enjoy the occasional snow day away from school, and with all of the back roads in Edmonson County, it doesn't take much of it for schools to be cancelled; however, the majority of folks don't enjoy having to make up those school days, a process which extends the school year into the summer break.
For the first time ever, the Edmonson County Board of Education has implemented a program that is designed to cut down on the extension of the calendar due to make up days that will allow students to complete their work at home. The new program is called "NTI," or "Non-Traditional Instruction."
Here's how it works: the program is for all Edmonson County students in grades K-12 and will be put into action on the second day that school is cancelled in 2017, (which will likely be Friday, January 6, 2017, according to local forecasts). Today, which is actually the first cancelled day of the school year for inclement weather, will not apply.
According to Carol Stice, who is Instructional Supervisor for Edmonson County Schools, the board surveyed teachers, administrators, staff, and parents on their overall thoughts of this proposed program last year, which resulted in 91% of those surveyed in favor of the program.
For those of you wondering how your students are going to learn new material at home, Mrs. Stice said that's one thing you shouldn't worry about.
"We know we'll have to tweak the program and make adjustments, but we're going to use common sense with this. These assignments will not be new material that our students haven't previously discussed in class; rather, they'll consist of material that's relevant to their subjects. Only what's needed or what we feel is necessary."
She also pointed out that all teachers will be available on snow days from 8am to 3pm, with the exception of a luch break from 11:30am-12pm, via email should parents or students need any help. For those without email access, you can call the school and leave a message regarding the student, the teacher, and assignment, and someone will return your call as soon as possilble.
Brian Alexander, Edmonson County's Director of Pupil Personnel, said that this plan began a year ago and although unsure of its initial results, the board is confident that the program will be an asset to Edmonson County students.
"For the last year, we've attended conferences, talked to other districts that have similar programs, and simply asked them what worked and didn't worked," he said. "NTI will take effect on the next snow day, which might be Friday. On the next day students are back in session, we're going to immediately begin talking to them, teachers, and parents. We want feedback because we want this to work."
Alexander said the state will allow up to 10 days of NTI instruction, which equals to 10 days (if used) of summer break that is saved for Edmonson County students.
"Our goal is to make these changes with the least amount of stress possible," he said. "If all goes as planned, we could still have lots of snow days and still be out of school by mid May."
Mrs. Stice said that packets with up to 5 days worth of assignments will be sent home with students when inclement weather is forecasted, the first of which was sent home yesterday.
"These will all be standard lessons from our regular curriculum with no new material," she said. "Our intent is for students to be able to do all of these assignments by themselves."
Stice also said it is imperative to follow school social media and one-call messages to stay informed of NTI happenings. Your feedback is always welcomed by emailing:
You can also get a rundown on how the whole system works by visiting the school board website and accessing all the NTI information, including contact and assignment info from all teachers by clicking here.
If you can't find a particular teacher's email address, all teachers have a school email address that's listed like this: firstname.lastname@example.org, so you can simply insert the first and last name at the beginning.
It's also important to note that the site contains an easy form for all grades K-8, where you simply click on the day and the student's grade to get assignment info, but for grades 9-12, you'll need to click on each individual teacher for that particular assignment.
"Our teachers and curriculum coordinators have worked really hard to make this possible and we're excited to implement NTI this year," said Stice.
Alexander used a thirteen-day example of how the calendar will work in the event of snowdays.
"We could have ten days of NTI and another three days of regular snow days with no assignments and still be out of school by May 19th," he said. "And that's something we see as very positive."