Jones: Staff willing to implement change
July 10, 2014 · Ann Gruber-Miller
"We did a lot this year with a great staff who was willing to push themselves and implement changes." That's how Washington Elementary principal Kate Jones summed up the 2013-14 school year for the school board at a recent meeting.
Jones, in her first year as principal, reported the following highlights:
• Getting a new reading curriculum series to implement next year that provides continuity within grades and between grades. This year, the teachers and administration evaluated various series, selected one and were trained on it the last day of school.
• Preparing to implement PBIS (positive behavioral interventions and supports) fully next year. The teachers and administration spent time planning so that everyone at the school will be using common language and have common expectations for behaviors, for example in certain common areas. Everyone will see posters in the hallways that state clearly what the expectations are, and everyone will be trained in them, Jones said.
• Going to a united technology platform. Next year, all teachers will utilize Mac computers and carts, to provide consistency for the students for when they go on to middle school. All teachers will also receive interactive white boards and document cameras to use in their classrooms.
To pay for the additional technology, funding was used that had been allocated for 71 MacBooks for general use, but were not listed to do anything with, Jones reported. She said the funds were allocated, instead, to "give access (to technology) to students and adults instead of random things there was no use for."
"We've talked for years about how we have different types of learners and we have to teach to all types," Jones said. "We now have technology learners and we have to teach them the way they learn. If we don't have that (technology) in our classrooms, we're missing out on students who learn that way."
• Replacing the old Reading Recovery library books through a grant the school secured through WETAP (Washington Elementary Teachers and Parents group).
The Reading Recovery books the school had were very old and had things in them from the 1980s that the kids didn't know anything about.
• Making more of a structure for Kids Club. The program cleared up some inconsistencies that had arisen because of staff turnover in the last few years, and now the program has more of an academic focus. This summer, 50-60 children are attending daily, which is more than had been expected and is great, Jones said.
• Changing the quarterly progress reports, which hadn't been changed in a long time. Starting next year, they will be tied to standards - what kids are expected to know at the end of each grade level. Each student's progress toward achieving eight to 12 standards will be reported each grading period. Teachers will also be able to enter the reports online through the online PowerSchool system and then print them out to give to parents at conferences.