BROOKLYN, Md. (WJZ) — Big changes are coming to Anne Arundel County public schools, impacting students and teachers at the elementary level.

Tracey Leong explains why.

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The goal is to enrich the education experience, giving students an extra opportunities to learn and teachers extra time to plan.

A new school year means a new approach for Anne Arundel County elementary schools.

“We believe that this is a key part to elevating our systems and eliminating all gaps,” said George Arlotto, Anne Arundel County Superintendent.

A similar program was launched at Park Elementary School last year. The response has been overwhelming. Now the district is excited to open it up to nine schools.

“I actually had to use my brain for once working my way up through the ladder, as they said, to the top,” one student said. “And I had fun along the way.”

Starting at the end of September, a fifth non-core subject will be added for kindergarten through fifth grade. It’s proven to be a successful model.

“We come to work, and people are smiling and they’re excited. We talked about what we could do and issues we could actually transform, not only this classroom and this lab, but all classrooms,” said teacher Bill Forrester.

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Ten extra teachers are being assigned to the program, giving all teachers extra time to plan and collaborate.

“We were able to do things that we didn’t think possible,” Forrester said.

The district is using their existing budget for the program, so this means no extra funds will be used. It will all happen during a regular school day.

“It’s exciting to me, just because it does challenge kids to a whole different degree, a whole different level,” said parent Jenny Chase.

Around 3,600 students and 300 teachers will be affected. It’s a new method the district hopes will increase student achievement and motivation for success.

“I already love school, but then I ended up loving school even more. I just couldn’t wait to get up every morning,” said one student.

While the program is starting in just nine Anne Arundel County schools, the goal is to eventually expand it to all 79 in the district.

The average teacher in this program will gain about 90 minutes of extra planning per week.

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