Grant Will Bring Spanish To Payson Freshmen During ‘Zero Hour’

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An early morning treat will soon await freshmen squeezed out of foreign language classes this year — a 7:30 a.m. Spanish class.

When Payson High School lost a part-time Spanish teacher during layoffs, the school had only enough Spanish sections for sophomores through seniors.

However, this year’s freshmen brought with them the GearUp grant, which seeks to increase rates of graduation and college attendance. The grant began when this year’s freshmen were seventh-graders, and will continue until the class graduates.

PHS Principal Kathe Ketchem said she will use some of the grant money to pay a teacher to teach a Spanish class during the so-called zero hour. Students need foreign language credits to enter university.

The school board approved adding the Spanish class during Monday’s board meeting, and Ketchem said she will now advertise for a position. The person’s salary will depend upon where on the salary schedule their experience and education place them.

Ketchem said a laid-off teacher could apply, or someone already working in the district. The laid-off part-time Spanish teacher was Superintendent Casey O’Brien’s wife, Priscilla.

Ketchem said offering the new class pleased her.

“It’s a great way to offer something we can’t afford,” otherwise, she said. “Spanish is something everybody can use in the job world.”

The addition of zero hour Spanish marks part of the struggle of PHS educators to maintain academic offerings despite a smaller staff and fewer class periods, down to six, 60-minute periods instead of eight, 48-minute periods. 

The district elongated class times to satisfy state vocational education guidelines, but the change has affected which classes students can take.

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