When Brady Wald’s son was a student attending Chandler’s Anderson Junior High School, he saw a young, shy boy with marginal grades “burst out of his shell.”
Wald credits Anderson’s offering of all-boy and all-girl classes in the core subjects.
“He had two years of single-gender classes,” Wald said. “He really blossomed. His grades got better. The more I heard about what he was doing in his classes, the more it intrigued me.”
Wald is now in his first year as principal at Gililland Middle School, a sixth- through eighth-grade campus in the Tempe Elementary School District.
The school will start single gender language arts classes for seventh-graders beginning in January to test out the interest and effectiveness of the idea.
Watching what was happening at Anderson — while he was then an assistant principal at Gililland — sparked the idea.
“It made me think, ‘This is something we can do at Gililland to meet the needs of our kids.’”
More than 100 students have signed up to take the single-gender classes next year. Wald is already preparing to offer single-gender classes in the core subjects for seventh- and eighth-graders next fall at Gililland.
Anderson Junior High is the only other public district school in the East Valley that offers the option.
Wald said he did an experiment to see how the students would react to being in a single gender situation. When boys and girls were together to learn about the program and he asked if there were any questions, “Nobody raised hands.”
But then he separated them.
“All these hands got going up,” he said. “When you take the females out of the classroom, the boys raise hands. For the girls, they thrive in a cooperative setting.”
Andrea Barrios said her 12-year-daughter is excited about the new classes at Gililland.
“It gives them more female role models,” she said. “She likes that kind of stuff. She’s more comfortable with girls there. With boys, she’s so shy. But she’s so much more open with other girls.”
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Michelle Reese, East Valley Tribune