DeSoto school experiments with single gender classes - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Chip Washington

DeSoto school experiments with single gender classes

The new school year has started with changes for students at one DeSoto County elementary school.

A new pilot program at Oak Grove Central Elementary School in Hernando features single-gender classes in both fourth and fifth grades. Several other schools in the district are also exploring the concept.

Fifth grade student Katheen Myers said so far, so good.

"Dr. Barton came in and asked us if we liked our class, and nobody raised our hands that they didn't, so I guess they all feel the same way," she said.

Fifth grade student Zachary Smith agreed, saying he likes having his friends close.

"I was excited, because usually I have a better chance of getting all my friends in there, and I got almost every friend I know in my class," he said.

Oak Grove Principal Dr. Janice Barton said the decision to split genders was based on research after she attended a workshop during the summer. Barton said she has received overwhelming support from both administrators and parents.

"Everyone who knew about this and talked about this was just extremely excited about it," she said. "I had many, many parents come in during the summer and request ahead of time, 'Put my child in that class, put my child in that class.'"

Parent and fifth grade teacher Wendy Myers said her daughter was adjusting nicely. 

"When it actually happened she wasn't quite so sure that was what she wanted, but when school began and she got in there, I think she realized that it was a unique opportunity for her to get to do," Myers said.

Parent Heather Smith said she believes the idea is a win-win for both the boys and the girls.

"I think it helps both of the gender's focus on their school work and on making great friends in school, instead of worrying about each other," she said.

Barton said she hopes to expand the project next year, depending on how things go this year.  Parents are eager to sign up their children, she said, and there's already a waiting list.

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