The new Pearson 6th Grade Center may have been built in 1970, but the has done the work to make the former elementary school almost like new.
Almost 600 students attend the school that is only for sixth graders. Principal Dave Orlowsky, who served eight years as principal for , said that the first day of school went very well. Students appeared happy during the day, he said, and they came back for a second day of school with smiles on their faces.
Setting apart a school for sixth graders relieves the students of the pressure of trying to be like their older peers, Orlowsky said. They can transition into more responsibility and the other new aspects of middle school with less stress. Parents appear positive about the idea, he noted.
Orlowsky has been in education for 24 years, including time as a high school and middle school math teacher. He believes that his new position as principal for Pearson matches his experiences well.
While he emphasized his enjoyment of his work at the elementary school, he also appreciates the opportunity to do something different within the Shakopee School District.
Orlowsky likes it when things run smoothly, but he also enjoys challenges and solving problems. His biggest challenge so far has been figuring out the best process for such activities as students lining up for lunch and student pick-up and drop-off.
“Until you start doing it, you don’t know really know how it’s going to run,” he said.
The students’ biggest challenge have centered on their lockers, Orlowsky said. Students have questions about using their lockers properly and knowing what to do if they are late to school and have forgotten their combination. Yet there is also some pride in having a locker too, Orlowsky added.
To help manage the school's size, the student population is split into four teams of about 150 students each. Each team of students sees the same core group of teachers, which allows teachers to better address student needs across their classes, Orlowsky explained. The overarching theme of the teams tells students that learning is an adventure.