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Teachers Manage Overcrowded Classes As Population Grows

Bruce T. Martin

This year, the student population of South High rose in number to more than 1700 students, more than the maximum capacity of the school. Hallways are harder to traverse, and students cram in the cafeteria to either get their lunch or find a seat. An increase in students can even affect the heat of areas of the building.

Additionally, teachers are finding it harder to teach their classes.

Before, Chromebook Carts were in every classroom for students to use. Now, the carts are being shared among teachers because no new Chromebooks have been purchased. English teacher Ms. Bishop explains that it makes teaching difficult as she has many ELL students who benefit from the accessibility services the Chromebooks have. It is now “impossible to use” in her classes. Although all students are allowed to borrow a Chromebook for personal use, problems arise because students may not bring it to class. This means teachers have been using more paper assignments.

Additionally, teachers only receive 2 reams—or 2000 sheets—at a time. When Ms. Bishop used to have 145 students, she could only use 6 pieces of paper per student.  She says, “printing out packets, workbook activities, and short stories becomes a resource intensive process or, in some cases, impossible.” Subsequently, teachers may buy their own paper; however, they may not fundraise for extra class materials. Dr. Monarrez has prohibited teachers from using websites like DonorsChoose to ask people outside of the school to donate to teachers. Teachers like Ms. Vaidya have even resorted to using the “kindergarten” paper,  with the large  spaces, to print out assignments. 

Teachers request paper with a paper form that allows orders by month. Upon interview, Assistant Principal Ms. Papadopolous stated that teachers may ask for more at any time; teachers are only allowed to ask for two reams at a time to facilitate distribution. However, teachers express frustration that there is no better or more efficient way to request paper.

The overpopulation of South High also directly affects teacher instruction. Social Studies teacher Ms. Carroll also had an excess of students: she didn’t even have enough desks for all her students. Similarly, at the beginning of the year, Psychology teacher Mr. Sargent had a class that did not have enough desks for all his students. Some students had to sit on the cabinets near the windows. Now, there are enough seats; however, some students do not actually have desks. Some students are sitting in metal folding chairs. Mr. Sargent is also using his desk as a seat for a student. He now uses the cabinets as a makeshift desk. 

Along with a lack of seats, there is a lack of time to give the students the proper attention they need, both Ms. Carroll and Ms. Bishop said. Ms. Carroll feels “behind and slightly overwhelmed” as more students mean more grading. Additionally, Ms. Bishop formerly had a class with 32 students at one point—that class is still behind. Ms. Bishop feels “terrible” for shy and well-behaved students as “it can be a challenge trying to check in with them to make sure they’re understanding the lessons.” For her, it is also an issue to ensure students are behaving and manage class conflicts when there are so many students to look over. Ms. Carroll has a similar problem where she says she cannot give her full attention to her students, calling it a “disservice.”

Despite being interviewed separately, the two teachers say they have the same response to the overpopulation problem: to “roll with the punches.” Many other teachers face the same problem, and Ms. Carroll says that in her experience, they try to help each other out with strategies.

As Ms. Bishop puts it, Worcester is growing, and no one can change that. If the schools are to provide the same quality education, teachers must “grow with it.”

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About the Contributor
Jason Murillo
Jason Murillo, Editor-In-Chief
I am excited to be co-editor-in-chief of the newspaper as we launch our brand new website to our peers, our teachers, and those we know in the Worcester Community. I greatly enjoy writing as I see it as a great method of self-expression, and I particularly enjoy it in a journalistic setting. Outside of the newspaper, I am part of the Drama Club, A Capella, and Chorus. I have also published works in The Apricot Journal. Outside of South High, I am a student at The Hanover Theatre Conservatory and am part of their Youth Acting Company. Performance arts is a big interest for me for similar reasons as writing. Feel free to email me at [email protected].
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