Former Three-Year ESSO Program Downsized to One Year

By Kyle Emery, Staff Writer

MCPS has decided to limit the English, Science, Social Studies Opportunities (ESSO) program to a freshman year course as opposed to a three-year program. Students will be integrated into regular classes after their freshman year in the program.

The main focus of ESSO is to help students with organizational skills by providing them with additional help from teachers. The program includes smaller class sizes which helps each student get increased attention from teachers.

“This program has existed in MCPS for many years, and it is a very strong program for kids who need help with organizing and note-taking,” Principal Joan Benz said.

Seniors, juniors and sophomores who were involved in the ESSO program last year may see a big adjustment to their English, science and social studies classes. In terms of class sizes and work, many former sophomore ESSO students may find that their work is more independent and that seeking help, especially in organization, will be more difficult.

“The program was more interactive between teachers and students, so when I needed help, I was able to get it,” sophomore Jimmy Kloke said.

The program sought to vastly improve each student’s ability in reading comprehension, organization and study habits. Most students enjoyed ESSO for the interaction with peers it provided them.

“I believe the program can be very beneficial, but the individual students determine the benefits and determine their individual success,” former ESSO Coordinator Katelyn McMahon said. “I have seen students have tremendous growth when utilizing what the program has to offer.”

Former ESSO teacher Margery Goldman, who retired in 2005, recalls that the ESSO program included two teachers in each class which added to the amount of extra support each student would receive.
According to Goldman, when the county encountered financial trouble, it eliminated the extra teacher in the program.

“A new program would be wonderful as a lot of students could use this support, but I see this as highly unlikely due to the county’s budget,” Goldman said.