Interim week cancelled due to schedule constraints

Teachers did not follow up on plans for a January interim week and decided to cancel it during a meeting in Oct.


English teacher Kelly Fast teaches AP literature students in his classroom Dec. 5. Fast was the head of the interim week committee before it was cancelled. photo by Annabelle Meloy

by Annabelle Meloy, News Editor

Students and teachers had been gearing up for interim week for months, a week where teachers could pick any topic they desired to teach and share it with students during the three day week in January after winter break. However, the hopes of having it were put on hold after the majority of staff members voted during a meeting in October to cancel it. That week in January was needed for too many other events, and took up a lot of teachers’ time, leading to its cancellation.

English teacher Kelly Fast, head of the interim week committee, put a lot of effort into planning the week and would have liked for it to go on. However, he knew how hectic planning was for other teachers who had other classroom obligations as well.

“As the head of the committee, I asked the committee what their thoughts were, and then we asked the teachers at a faculty meeting for any ideas or input,” Fast said. “There wasn’t a formal vote but pretty much a consensus that it was ok to cancel it.”

Even though the week was cancelled, many teachers had already created plans for what they were going to teach students. History teacher Mike Egner wanted to teach his students about Kansas City history and take them to local historical sites.

“When I taught American history, I had a unit that I taught in that class about Kansas City and Jackson County history, and I think it’s really interesting,” Egner said. “I don’t teach American history anymore, so I thought that might be cool, and kids might be interested in doing that.”

Teachers could pick from a wide variety of topics such as STEM, literature, art and more.  They then had to submit their ideas to Fast for approval. As STA has never done interim week before, the teachers were guided a little bit and given examples of topics that were available but still had plenty of options for that week.

French teacher Alice Amick was another teacher who would had set up her plans for interim week months in advance and had submitted plans to Fast in order for her to teach two subjects.

“There were two major ideas, academic courses and some that were more experimental courses,” Amick said. “Other than that, there was wide latitude on what you wanted to present.”

Amick focused on topics that she was already comfortable with without having to do a lot of research. She wanted students to be able to participate in wholly French topics and travel to places around Kansas City that tied in well.

“I was going to do a French immersion experience, and that one was going to be about doing French activities, and I was planning to have a couple of my more advanced students be like peer helpers in some way,” Amick said.

Amick also had plans to bring in guest speakers from around Kansas City for her second topic: a career as a lawyer. Amick was a lawyer herself before coming to STA, and she wanted students to be able to get real life perspectives on that career path.

“It ties in well with world languages because a lot of times, that is a necessity in a legal case of some sort,” Amick said. “I did contact UMKC and also some friends that I have, either parents who are lawyers or friends that I have in the profession, about being guest speakers and possibly arranging a tour.”

A few other Kansas City schools like Pembroke have been doing interim week for a few years, and one of their most popular parts of it have been winter trips. Fast thinks STA could also incorporate winter travels into their curriculum after doing summer trips for so long.

“I think it’s great for teachers to get to do stuff outside of their curriculum and other things that they’re interested in,” Fast said. “[We] could do a full trip attached to winter break instead of the summer trips. I think Pembroke last year did three of them. I think there was a trip to Yosemite, a trip to China and one to Mexico during winter break.”

Both Fast and Egner are positive that interim week will be brought back for next year despite the not knowing how the schedule might work out for next year. Even though it’s not guaranteed, teachers are excited to have another shot at it.

“They will bring it back, and we’ll have it next year unless something remarkable and out of the ordinary happens,” Egner said, “but [interim week] will probably happen.”