Inside a classroom at J.B. Young School in Davenport, there’s a lot of learning taking place.
“They’re really smart,” said Talley Rocha, 13.
Eighth grader Rocha is mentoring younger students. She was picked by teachers to work with other youngsters.
“Helping them to write or read the books,” she said.
Talley spent her grade school years at Lincoln Academy. But a district budget deficit and declining enrollment forced the charter school to close in May. Some 85 kids are transitioning to what they now call JB K8.
“J.B. had a lot of room for growth,” said Principal Marianne Corbin. “So centrally locating all the kids here made sense. We had space for all of the ages.”
Primary students are attending multi-age classrooms. The advance-when-ready concept is designed to help bright students move ahead while struggling students receive help to succeed.
“A family can enroll with us in kindergarten, and they will be with us until they’re ready for high school,” Corbin said.
The youngsters also have a separate lunch break and recess from the 6-8th graders.
These multi-age classrooms provide new opportunities for learning. It’s also an adjustment for students and teachers as they make the most of this new situation.
That’s one reason why Onyx the therapy dog is there. He’s helping kids to feel comfortable in writing class. After being a comforting presence at Lincoln, he’s a welcome sight at JB K8.
“It can be pretty scary when you’re with a bunch of eighth graders that are like this tall compared to you,” said Abby Lance, 12. “We’re making sure that everybody is nice to the younger kids.”
In addition to Onyx, there are familiar faces from Lincoln Academy among the staffers and students. There’s artwork from the former school on display, along with a baby grand piano and other musical instruments to enjoy.
“They just want it to be as comfortable as possible,” Rocha concluded.
And that’s a positive way to learn at JB K8.