Dec 4

Brebeuf Jesuit Schedule 2020-2021

If you’ve ever walked the halls of Brebeuf during a Personal Responsibility Time (PRT) period, you’ll know that it’s one of the best times to experience what is unique about the atmosphere here. One of my favorite things to do with first-time Brebeuf Jesuit visitors is walking them around the halls during a PRT. Inevitably, their reaction will be how engaged the students are, how evident it is that our students enjoy and respect their school, and how much trust we put in each other in this community. Our unique bell schedule is a reflection of our school culture, and has helped to develop that culture over the years. You may have heard that we have been working on a new bell schedule for Brebeuf Jesuit, which will begin in the 2020-21 school year. I’d like to share with you what is behind this change and why I am excited about it.

Brebeuf Jesuit was an early adopter of the idea that high school students should have some time available in each school day, to learn to make good decisions about how their use their time. Brebeuf educators began thinking this way in the 1970s, when they allowed students who were not in class during a given period to use the time as they chose: to study in the library, to meet with teachers, to work with peers on a project, or to relax and socialize. In the 1980s, the school had the ingenious idea to call it “personal responsibility time,” and the PRT was born. Using PRTs and break periods, we teach our students to make good choices with their time. One of the most consistent points of feedback from our alumni about how Brebeuf prepared them for college is that their time management skills are far advanced compared to many of their non-Brebeuf peers.

Our bell schedule has remained largely unchanged for decades, and as more and more demands have been placed on our students and teachers, we have noticed a squeeze take place. Our students consistently absorb messages that they need to “do it all” to be competitive, and as we have offered more programming, they want to do it all. While we certainly want to challenge our students and offer them opportunities to grow and learn, it has become increasingly evident that we also need to give them tools to manage life’s stresses both in high school and beyond. Our schedule has the potential to play a positive role in this effort, but we’ve often thought in recent years that there could be a better way.

With all this background in mind, in February 2019, we embarked on a process to review our bell schedule in order to ensure that we are structuring our time in a way that aligns most closely with our school mission, particularly with the care of the student in mind. First, we listened to the experiences of our students. We learned what they loved about our current schedule, and what they wished was different. We asked them about the flow of their days, and several of our faculty & staff even shadowed students for a day to feel what it was like in their shoes. We also engaged with experts in the field, including a visit from a scheduling guru from the Independent School Management organization. With this input, we established a set of design principles and goals for a new schedule. Then, over the past eight months, our academic leadership, along with a faculty committee, has worked to develop ideas, and gather feedback from our students and other faculty & staff members.

Among its expected benefits, the new schedule provides:

  • Two open PRTs per day for every student, allowing more opportunities for club meetings, choice time, and student collaboration
  • A guaranteed 30-minute lunch period every day
  • A fully rotating schedule so that every class hits students’ best learning time during the cycle of days
  • A shift in starting time to 8:30 with students’ sleep in mind, meeting the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. (This is a proposed, but not finalized change at this point. We want to test an 8:30 start time in the January test run, then get feedback from parents, students, faculty, and staff before making the final decision.)
  • Consistent 60-minute class periods which give time for deep learning and reflection
  • No more than five classes per day and no more than two classes back-to-back without a break, allowing for a less hectic pace, less time lost to transitions, and spreading out the student work load
  • A similar amount of total class time as the current schedule for most courses
  • Students will no longer be required to take summer school in order to take electives or to make their schedule work (summer school will still be available, just optional for all)
  • Zero hour will no longer be necessary, which will also be better for students’ sleep
  • Off-campus learning opportunities such as internships and field experiences will be more possible to schedule

As part of our transition plan, Brebeuf will hold a test run of the new schedule during the first two weeks of the spring 2020 semester. All current classes will continue to meet, using the new bell schedule. This test run will allow us to prototype the new schedule, to get feedback from students and faculty, and to prepare any needed adjustments for when we move to this schedule full-time in the fall semester of 2020.

New Brebeuf Jesuit Schedule 2020-2021

A day-by-day list of the first two weeks of spring semester is below.

  • Monday, January 6, 2020: Current Day 1
  • Tuesday, January 7: New Day 1
  • Wednesday, January 8: New Day 2
  • Thursday, January 9: New Day 3
  • Friday, January 10: New Day 4
  • Monday, January 13: New Day 5
  • Tuesday, January 14: New Day 6
  • Wednesday, January 15: New Day 7
  • Thursday, January 16: New Day 8
  • Friday, January 17: Current Day 1

Beginning the week of January 20, 2020, we return to our current cycle as already planned. Following the test run, all students, as well as parents, will have the opportunity to share feedback with us, via online survey forms and other methods. I am happy to receive feedback or questions any time at We have also developed a Frequently Asked Questions page, which is linked below.

New Brebeuf Jesuit Schedule 2020-2021 FAQ

While it can be intimidating to undertake a change of this magnitude to a school schedule, I have been gratified by the way our faculty and leadership have remained focused on the Ignatian value of the care of the student as we have developed it. Our students and their experiences are at the heart of our new schedule, and we hope that it will allow us all to live out the care of the student even more effectively every day in the classrooms, hallways, and gathering spaces of Brebeuf Jesuit.


Greg VanSlambrook