Last year, Triple C School launched its Upper Room programme and, having experienced great success, the school is expanding the programme this academic year.
The Upper Room programme, brought in by Triple C’s Dean of Students Bob Lankford, was originally intended to provide a distraction-free environment where students who were disruptive in traditional classes could be placed. This would remove the disruption from regular classes and provide the students with a different environment in which to learn.
However, Mr. Lankford said, after witnessing the academic success of the students placed in the Upper Room programme, other students were soon applying to join it as well.
‘Upper Room academies are designed for students who require and desire the extra structure and less distracting environment than a regular classroom with lower student-to-teacher ratios to reach their potential,’ Mr. Lankford explained, adding that it is more costly than the regular school system. ‘There are two units – one for boys and one for girls – so they are separated by gender.’
With a maximum of six students to each teacher, the environment of Upper Room programme is conducive to effective learning, Mr. Lankford explained.
‘The units are set up with cubicle-style office work spaces, so students are more separate,’ he said. Once a teacher has worked through a problem with one student, the student can continue to practise the technique while the teacher helps another.
Students from seventh grade through to 12th grade can apply to the Upper Room programme and subjects covered in the academy are, at the moment, limited to core curriculum subjects such as English, math and sciences.
Students return to their regular classrooms for their elective subjects, Mr. Lankford said. The programme does not require students to meet certain grades to be a part of the programme; rather it focuses on individual students’ learning styles.
‘We have children of varied abilities in Upper Room,’ said Mr. Lankford, who has worked with troubled youths and taught at the Cayman Islands Marine Institute for seven years before joining Triple C. ‘So I was familiar with the advantages of the office space, the low teacher-to-student ratio that go with this programme. It was something we wanted to try here, a similar model but not for severe behaviour problems.’
Last year, three teachers were working in the Upper Room and this year ‘we took a big leap forward,’ said Mr. Lankford. ‘The new teachers we brought on were to accommodate our growth needs as a school,’ he said, adding that the head science teacher will be taking Upper Room students into the lab to complete their lab component for the science subjects.
The school hired 19 new teachers at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year.