The Nokesville School to Offer Unique K-8 Experience

| August 24, 2014 | 0 Comments | Education

Principal Eric Worcester stands in the hallway at The Nokesville School.

The Nokesville School is opening for classes this year, and Principal Eric Worcester, formerly principal of Nokesville Elementary, explained some of the changes between The Nokesville School and Nokesville Elementary. Besides having a brand new beautiful building, The Nokesville School offers a K-8 educational model.

“The big change is adding the middle school. We had sixth grade last year, so we are adding seventh and eighth grade and rounding out our middle school programs,” Worcester said. “Middle school can be tough, and having a small environment where they can go K through eight will be very effective for our middle school students.”

Worcester once taught at Pennington Traditional School, so he is familiar with K-8 practices. Still, before he opened The Nokesville School, he met with principals from Pennington and Porter traditional schools to get ideas about how they operate in ways that are both effective for and sensitive to all students learning and development.

Ultimately, he decided on a system that combines the independence of middle school with the security of a small environment. As such, Nokesville students will be changing classes, having lockers and taking exploratory and encore classes such as art, orchestra, band or choir and Spanish for eighth-grade students who elect to take a world language before entering high school.

And since Brentsville District High School is conveniently located next door to the new K-8 school, many of the encore teachers will travel between the two schools. Additionally, advanced math eighth grade students can start their day early by taking geometry class at the high school.

That is another unique aspect of The Nokesville School: its ability to align curriculum.

“One of the great things about this school in particular is to look at school-wide vertical alignment. We can look over those nine years that we have them at Nokesville and look at consistent ways of teaching,” he said. “It will be great to have conversations spanning from K through eighth grade.”

He’s even asked some teachers to serve as K-8 coordinators. But not only is he aligning the elementary and middle school grades, but from kindergarten right through to senior year of high school.

“We are also working with Brentsville. One teacher is doing some internship hours here. He will serve as our high school coordinator,” Worcester said, adding, “[Brentsville Principal] Mrs. [Katherine] Meints has been great, and I look forward to working with her.”

Middle school students will also have a separate wing of the school. In fact, Worcester said that students graduate to different wings as they progress to different grades.

He is also looking at various ways to foster a feeling of independence for the upper-level students.

“We will look at doing activities for only middle school students that are their own,” he said, such as school dances or field trips.

However, adding approximately 300 sixth through eighth-grade students is not the only change for the school, which will open with approximately 800 students. The other difference from Nokesville Elementary to the K-8 school is that The Nokesville School will be adding new students from different boundaries to the east. While most Nokesville students are progressing from Nokesville Elementary School, the school is also pulling from Bennett Elementary and somewhat from Parkside Middle School.

And, even though sixth-grade students attended Nokesville Elementary last year, some rising eighth grade students who attended Marsteller will be returning to Nokesville. According to Worcester, eighth-grade students at Marsteller were given the option to stay if they could provide transportation. Still many chose to return, especially if they were not specialty math students. Worcester credits the strong sense of community in Nokesville as the reason for their return

And, even though The Nokesville School is opening with a good number of students, Worcester said there is room to grow. Rather than accepting specialty applications, they are saving seats for new neighbors, children of families who will soon move into the Avendale Community along Vint Hill Road.

As with so many changes this year, Worcester thanked his loyal staff from Nokesville Elementary School as well as the new teachers he hired.

He described his Nokesville Elementary teachers as dedicated, creative professionals, and said he was able to choose from many qualified candidates for new positions.

“I really had a lot of options, and I think we have selected the best of what Prince William County Schools has to offer,” he said.

Altogether the school hired 30 new teachers and four classified staff members.

“I’m really excited about our new teachers and current staff members. It’s always great to have new energy.”

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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