When new students start their high school experience they benefit from having teachers treat freshmen year as a transition to high school.

Soft SkillsAt Schenectady High School, freshmen are starting to face the realities of graduation, life, and college. But first they have to find their lockers and classes.

There are also hundreds of students, whereas their previous schools were smaller and more intimate.

“It was chaotic,” said Schenectady High School freshman Aja Samuel. “There are a lot of people and a lot of different body odors.”

Aja has settled in during the past month. But many teachers know that the stakes are higher in ninth grade, with grades counting toward college applications. They join clubs and prepare for Regents exams.

“This is where it counts,” freshman social studies teacher Justin Hoffman said. “When they get there, they are in the game now.”

In order to to ease the transition to high school, freshman year is structured with a team approach that is similar to what is common in middle school. The five teams of roughly 100 students and the smaller International Baccalaureate team talk their core classes from the same teachers and are grouped close to each other. They are also close to the lockers. Freshman team pods are located throughout the school building.

Freshman year at the high school is structured to ease the transition from middle school. Similar to the “team” model in middle school, high school freshman are divided into five teams of around 100 students – and slightly smaller sixth team of students headed to the school’s advanced International Baccalaureate program.

On each team, students share the same math, English, social studies and biology teachers, counselor and special education co-teachers. The core classes of each team are grouped near one other and the student lockers are in the same area. The freshman team pods are scattered throughout the school. Freshmen still take electives and other classes throughout the school.

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