New self-paced program sparks excitement for chosen teachers

Becca Fritz, Staff Writer

Mayfield administration has chosen the senior teachers for the Self-Paced 2.0 program next year. A couple of those teachers are Kerry Rutigliano and Michael Pinto.

Rutigliano has been an English teacher at Mayfield for the last two decades, but has never experienced anything like this. Rutigliano said, “I love the fact that I can’t conceptualize some of the things that are going to happen and there are a lot of ideas that I want to try and that I’m going to be working with incredible colleagues that are committed and innovative and students that are willing to try something new and then eventually we’ll be in a new space. The best thing about teaching is that you never know what you’re going to get every day and I think that is quintessential that represents all of the magic and joy of all of that.”

Pinto always searches for ways to help improve the students learning and experience here at Mayfield. He said, “I saw it as an opportunity to take part in something special or something exciting, and new and innovating. Something that is outside the traditional classroom, something that provides students with an authentic learning space. I think it’d be cool to be part of that and have that role.”

Although it’s going to be a new concept for the teachers, Rutigliano is up for the challenge. She said, “Why wouldn’t I consider [teaching for the program]? It’s something new, it’s something that’s gonna be incredibly rewarding but unbelievably challenging. Almost like you’re in the wilderness and you have to hack through so many different obstacles to create a clear path and you’re going to be doing it with other teachers who have that same spirit of adventure and working with students that I think all of our students deserve every opportunity to learn in new and unique ways, but the fact that we’re going to be a team within a team is incredibly exciting.”

Rutigliano is not alone when it comes to taking on a challenge; Pinto is also not scared to see what this new program has in store. He said, “I’m definitely excited. I think working with the group of teachers that we have in place for it is gonna be a lot of fun, I think we have a lot of innovative minds. It’s always good to surround yourself with people who might be smarter than you.”

Even if this school year isn’t over yet, Rutigliano is already thinking ahead for how she will go about this next year. She said, “Well certainly everything is orbiting and certainly I have ideas, but it’s gonna be important to coordinate with the other teachers that are going to be in the program and are going to be working together. Because it’s not going to be traditional and the traditional sense that you’ll have this set time to work on things rather we’re going to coordinate things together, look to see how the different disciplines can talk to each other so that students will have experiences that will be enriching and unique.”

While Rutigliano may have an idea of what she wants to do, Pinto is still looking for guidance. Pinto said, “We’re kind of right in the beginning planning phases of it. Next week we’re going to Sycamore High School to see their model, so we haven’t planned out really what it’s going to look like. Once we sit everybody down and figure out who’s going to do what and how it’s going to look, it’ll iron out the details and the policies and the procedures, etc. So once we get that process ironed out, it will all be good going from there.”

Like any new idea, there are going to be ups and downs, such as students taking advantage of the program. Rutigliano said, “I think there are a lot of kids that will throw themselves into it, and I think there are kids that are gonna be skittish or hesitant to do so because there are so many unknowns. Something that’s unknown is typically fearful or presents a fear factor, but I think that based on the support of the high school and the reputation of our educational system and the teachers; a lot of the kids are going to be willing to take the risk. But there’s really no mystery about the joy of learning when you have opportunities to negotiate your time the way you want. But I think a lot of kids are really, really going to seize this opportunity.”

Pinto said he hopes students will take advantage of the new program just so they can really test it out and get a feel for it all. He said, “If I was a student, I would definitely be signing up for it. I think that when you throw in the idea of teaching the soft skills of creativity, problem-solving, organization, time management, resiliency, perseverance and preparing yourself for college. I think it’s just an amazing opportunity. Also with the capstone project you get to do real authentic learning.”

Rutigliano said she loves to see her students advance and she is always willing to help them out; her students are her favorite part about teaching. She said, “My favorite part of this new program is the opportunity for the kids to have choice and to not necessarily become entangled in the classroom in terms of that you have to learn at this time in a certain way for ‘x’ amount of minutes, etc. There’s going to be choice in which kids can take content knowledge and pursue projects or interests that are compelling to them. So working with kids and discovering and struggling and all those things are just the bread and butter of teaching.”

Math teachers Lisa Heinl and Kim Thompson were also chosen to be teachers in the program next year but declined to be interviewed.