The Greenfield Elementary administrators Monday told board of education members Monday about endeavors in the school that focus on student reading foundations, student behavior, and teacher well-being.
The presentation, given by principal Bob Schumm, assistant principal Linsday McNeal and kindergarten teacher Ali Vesey, outlined three separate ongoing initiatives: coaching teachers, PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports), and social emotional teacher focus.
According to Schumm, the first initiative refers to administrators as instructional coaches to their teachers. This focus is on the foundations of reading to “help students become the best readers they can be,” he said.
It involves book studies across grade levels with teachers. Schumm said the books help the teachers understand how young children develop language. It’s learning “the code of our own language” and is something that should be understood and utilized, he said.
This is the current setup of the initiative: for preschool, McNeal leads the LETRS Book Study; for first grade, Schumm leads the study focusing on phonics, guided reading and writing; and for second grade, McNeal leads the study focusing on learning intentions, success criteria and writing.
The initiative is connected throughout the grade levels at Greenfield Elementary, and is something that administrators believe will help students learn the fundamental building blocks of language and become better readers and writers.
The next initiative involves teaching kids to care intrinsically, Schumm said.
PBIS, Vesey said, helps students get to a better place socially and behaviorally.
As an example, Vesey said there is an interactive bulletin board that presents students with a kindness challenge that encourages students to perform acts of kindness. A three-tier system is utilized to help understand the student needs and support, and when something doesn’t work with some students, the system helps teachers find what does work.
The third initiative, as explained by McNeal, is helping teachers to take some time for themselves. The elementary administration is helping with this by implementing monthly meetings with no extra work or tasks and that offer some time to self-reflect.
Currently, monthly meetings are planned, but McNeal said those can become more frequent if it becomes necessary.
They also spoke about being mindful of greeting one another and students with a friendly hello, looking a person in the eyes when speaking to them, and saying their name when greeting them.
Children learn by watching adults, Schumm said, and making those connections with one another, and with students, is important.
“Things like that really make a difference,” McNeal said. “It’s changing our culture, for sure.”
In other business, board members recognized fifth grader Jada Pearce-Dietrich for a book she and her father created together and have published. Her father wrote the story, while Pearce-Dietrich illustrated it.
McNeal helped Pearce-Dietrich tell board members about the book as they flipped through a copy so the board could see the illustrations. Their book, called “Meido, the Bird Who Was Afraid to Fly,” is available on Amazon.
Superintendent Quincey Gray in her report said the school is moving forward with the Imagination Kingdom build. The old, time-worn play structure was recently demolished and a new structure chosen to be installed in the coming months.
The school wants the endeavor to be a community project, as was the former structure more than 26 years ago. To that end, there will be another community meeting about the playground project on Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the McClain cafetorium.
Anyone interested in how they can help is welcome to attend the meeting or call the school’s central office at 937-981-2152, then choose the numerical option for the board of education, then the option for superintendent.
The superintendent also thanked the custodial and maintenance staff and school nurse Katie Pryor for their work cleaning throughout the schools on last weekend under the direction of the Highland County Health Department.
The cleaning came after school was cancelled Friday due to the number of flu illnesses throughout the district. Gray said the highest percentage absent in the district was one building at 16.5 percent last Thursday. She said Monday’s attendance was much better.
On other board matters, the consent agenda approved by board members included the itinerary for an eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. in April; the TAG (Talented and Gifted) trips in June to Lancaster and Fairfield County; and a resolution authorizing the locker room and concession stand addition/renovation project in the new gym area.
Employment recommendations as approved by the board were: certified substitutes Megan Halcomb, Mikel Pritchard and Nick Winland; Sharon Shumacher — cafeteria, custodian; Payton Smith — clerical, aide/monitor, cafeteria; Joy Pence — clerical, aide/monitor, cafeteria; Nikki Dunn — cafeteria; David Weaks — assistant girls track; Kendra Barnes — junior high track; and Gary Johnson — baseball assistant.
The next regular meeting of the Greenfield Board of Education is Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at Rainsboro Elementary.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.