The ins and outs of scheduling

THE+PROCESS+OF+SCHEDULE+creation+is+a+long+and+complicated.+Sara+Thorn%2C+associate+head+of+the%0AUpper+School%2C+spends+her+summer+dedicated+to+preparing+for+the+students+arrival+on+campus+and+in+classes.

Jenny Xu

THE PROCESS OF SCHEDULE creation is a long and complicated. Sara Thorn, associate head of the Upper School, spends her summer dedicated to preparing for the students arrival on campus and in classes.

Lucas Seguinot , Lead Features Editor

Every summer, over 550 kids in The Masters Upper School anxiously wait to see their schedule. This school year, that lucky day was July 29. Students’ and teachers’ schedules are made but are the culmination of long hard hours starting in February for Sara Thorn and her colleagues.

Scheduling at Master’s is mainly run by Sara Thorn, Associate Head of the Upper School. To assist her in the process, Thorn works with Sandra Sclafani, Office Manager/Upper School Registrar, and department heads. Communication with all these people is essential to this process; for higher-level classes, Advanced Placements, and honors classes, department chairs need to verify that a student is appropriately prepared and approved to take that class. 

“We just communicate as much as possible during that March to June period,” Thorn said.

The scheduling cycle starts for the next year of classes on February 14, when the department heads present their classes in the curriculum assembly. Once the students hear about these classes, they have until March 7 when the form is due. Students need to gain approval from their guidance and advisor. 

Students then receive their provisionally approved course list in the first week of May. Thorn explained that this means that students are provisionally approved for higher-level classes but are not guaranteed spots in them.

Thorn and her team get into full gear once the school year finishes. With the help of Math Department chair Michele Dennis, they sit down and create a grid with all of the students in the Upper School. The process takes one to two weeks. Thorn went over each individual schedule to make sure she didn’t unfairly overload any student in a given semester.

Even with the classes officially approved on July 29th students did not receive their official schedule until the day before school started. Thorn explained that this is because as new students come in placements for classes are still being done

Thorn expressed how this process is levied by the use of technology. A grid is created allowing the department heads to verify classes in real-time. Technology, however,  can also be a hindrance in this whole process. 

“It is very complicated to make LMS do what you want it to do,” Thorn said. You really have to encourage it.”

Even with all the chaos involved in scheduling, Thorn sees a positive.“I am meeting a lot of the new students and seeing people after summer,” she said, “so while it is very busy, it is a great time to welcome everyone back.”

Looking ahead, a new edition to the schedule has been created: from January 24th to January 27th, Wintermission will occur. Created by Jason Hult, Director of Learning Initiatives, and Thorn, this 4-day mini-term will allow students to pick from 52 classes. In those 4 days, students will only have class in the one course they picked. These will be different in style and content compared to other classes this school year. Hult even expressed that some of these classes will be able to go to the city and more. Classes will be taught by Masters teachers independently or in teams.

“My hope is that this Wintermisison experience will be a healthy break for the students and the learning that happens in them will make the learning in other classes a little richer.” Hult said. 

Hult expressed that even with the complicated logistics of the process that this is a new opportunity for the school as a whole.

“Overall it has been really inspiring to see what the teacher wants to do and this could stretch our understanding of what school is and what school can be.” he said.