You may see Jim Eibel riding his bike through Oberlin more often.
He has been tapped to serve as principal at both Eastwood and Prospect Elementary schools, and said his preferred method of transportation is on two wheels.
“It’s going to be hard being split between two buildings,” Eibel said. He served as principal at Prospect for nine years before moving into the central office as director of pupil services for the district.
Returning will be like coming home, he said, but it will take some time to learn the families and students at Eastwood.
“The only thing better than being an elementary principal is being two elementary principals. That’s going to be my motto this year,” Eibel said.
Lead teachers have been chosen to handle emergencies that may arise if Eibel isn’t in the building, but he assures parents he will be in both places as much as possible.
Kristin Miller, a former media specialist at Oberlin High School, finished her administrative degree and will be at Prospect three days per week to help.
Prospect Elementary School
Classes at Prospect have always been self-contained. Students stay with their homeroom teacher for all their core classes including math, science, and reading, and only leave for gym and music class.
But this year, for the first time in about a decade, kids will have a different teacher for each subject and rotate to other classrooms.
The International Baccalaureate curriculum framework for ages three to 12 used to require a single homeroom teacher to be the expert on their students and to weave in and out of new subjects seamlessly.
Now policy has changed, and Eibel said this will better prepare kids for middle school.
“Sixth grade is such a big leap. Not only are you in a new building but you go from having one homeroom teacher who really watches over everything you do to moving around and having individual teachers for each subject,” he said.
A modified version of this teaching style will also be implemented in fourth grade.
Four teachers will split into groups of two and instruct as a team, with one teaching math and the other teaching reading.
Eastwood Elementary School
More playtime is being added to the daily schedule to get kids moving.
An extra 10 minutes will be added to recess and Eibel is trying to also add five more minutes to lunch time recess.
Ten minutes may seem minuscule, but it will make up for time spent getting kids out of their seats, into coats, and outside. The difference in attention, focus, behavior, and academics is worth it, Eibel said.
Teachers also use a mindfulness website called GoNoodle, which makes movement an integral part of the day. It has energizing songs to play if kids are getting antsy.
Eibel confessed he’s still getting his feet wet at Eastwood, so he isn’t sure what larger changes to routine might come down the line. He’s dedicated to spending his first year learning and listening to parents and staff.
Even though the two schools are in separate locations and serve different grade levels, Eibel wants to start unifying practices between buildings. By next year, he hopes to have a single Prospect-Eastwood handbook.
Monthly meetings with staff from both schools will allow teachers who normally never work together to begin collaborating.
“The first, second, third, fourth, fifth grade, kindergarten, and preschool teachers will all be together covering the same topics,” Eibel said. “We’re all smarter than one of us so the more people we can get in the conversation, I think it’ll be powerful.”
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.