AIM returns on Sept. 6 with new rules


Emmy Lockhart

A student looks at the AIM homepage. While students will not be able to choose their locations initially, students are expected to have that option in the second semester.

Alec Gardner, Emmy Lockhart, and Jack Forrest

The bell rings after second period and students rush to get to their next period, but instead of going to their next class they head to the same room they will go to for all four years of high school: STaR. 

STaR had been a class for years before Principal Jeff Henderson came to the school, but when he arrived, the teachers approached him with a problem.

“So when I first got here, six years ago, a group of teachers came to me and said, ‘We don’t feel like we’re using our time efficiently during what is the same block of time that STaR is in right now,’” Henderson said.

The problem teachers had with STaR was that the time was not used as effectively as it could be.

“Teachers felt like they weren’t utilizing that time effectively and efficiently as a school,” Henderson said. “Nor was it focused on academic pursuits.”

As a result, Henderson worked with teachers to introduce Always Improving Myself (AIM), a system based on a similar program in the Bloomington schools. The purpose of AIM was to allow students more freedom when seeking help and enrichment by signing up to attend certain teachers’ classes. After years of challenges with AIM, it is starting again–a little different.

“Everybody is going to go to STaR every single day at the beginning of that block of time,” Henderson said. “We’re going to start with only ‘closed events,’ so that teachers will be able to select students to come to them, but students won’t be able to sign up to go wherever they want initially.”

While all events will be closed initially, students will eventually be able to choose their own locations. Henderson said this freedom will allow students to develop accountability before starting college and careers.

“Teachers can still pull you if you’re not performing the way that they think you should or that you’re capable of, but part of the goal is that, by the time you leave here as seniors, you need to be good at self advocating,” Henderson said. “You need to be good at saying, ‘Okay, I’m struggling in this class. And here’s how I go get help.’ Because when you’re in college, there’s going to be study sessions, there’s going to be office hours of professors, there’s going to be study groups and ways in which you can get additional time and support.”

While AIM is designed to develop a level of accountability and responsibility, it is also meant to provide students with academic support within school hours.

“We also believe it’s unrealistic to expect students to stay late or come early for that extra help,” Henderson said. “And it’s unrealistic for us to expect teachers to give up time with their own family, to stay late to help students or to come early and help students. We also believe it’s unrealistic to think that every parent has the ability to provide academic support for you, in every class that you are taking.”

Although the format of AIM is different from last year, STaR will continue to be every Friday.

“[STaR] was designed to build relationships and help kids feel in a large school more closely connected to a small group of students and maybe one teacher that they follow for four years that they can get to know and they can be an advocate,” Henderson said. “So we didn’t want to completely eliminate that.”

AIM will begin Tuesday, Sept. 6. Students should report directly to their STaR period to find out their location.