Guilderland's Farnsworth Middle School has a similar system. The school is broken down by houses with each house taking up a separate wing of the building. The students only travel among their own house so they hardly leave their small communities.
This year the Pinewood Flyers are situated in the middle of the building. The six teachers on the team have similar schedules, so they have time to collaborate on instruction and plan special events.
Last year, a house spent the day cleaning up the grounds around Pinewood and planting flowers. Also, instruction can be similar among the different grade levels within a house. Last year, while learning about different cultures, each grade level chose a different culture to learn about and then presented what they learned to each other, Johnson said.
"They have common planning time so they can plan different activities, which is kind of exciting," Johnson said.
The house system is still in the trial phases, parents decided at the beginning of the year if they wanted their child to participate. Johnson said he doesn't anticipate going to a full house system in the near future. While there are more than 700 students at Pinewood, class size is still low with about 22 students in each classroom.
"Going to a complete house system would take a lot of review and discussion. I don't see that happening short term," Johnson said. "I wouldn't force it on the whole school. Pinewood is a strong elementary school."