With the added challenges of educating students amid a pandemic, Greenfield Middle School is reporting favorable strides in the right direction.
At Monday’s Greenfield Exempted Village Board of Education meeting, Greenfield Middle School Principal Jason Potts addressed ways the administration is sharpening students’ math and English skills. While its an annual effort, this year is a different given the extended months out of school. The learning loss that took place over the months out of school is called the “COVID-19 slide.”
A big part of how the middle school is approaching skill building are two different programs, Lexia for English skills, and Aleks for math skills. While the middle school began using Lexia last year, it was more for students that needed the extra skill building. However, both programs this year have been opened to all students. How much students use each program is dependent on their needs.
After just the first nine weeks of school with added skill building for all students, there have been marked improvements, Potts said. Administrators and teachers will keep meeting students where they are and help them get where they need to be. It is of the utmost importance, the principal said, and comes before anything else they do as educators.
Assistant principal Ron Sexton talked to board members about discipline and how some things there have changed. Overall, disciplinary action is down, he said.
One of the factors is that students are still in the “honeymoon period” of being back at school after being out so long. Another reason, he said, there is a lower level of write-ups due to separating the seventh and eighth graders in the morning, which in previous years were all together in the gym before going to classes. While that separation is due to COVID-19, it is still working out for the best, Sexton said, as a lot of write-ups in previous school years, even if happening later in the day, tended to stem from morning interactions prior to going to class. Another reason Sexton noted is the focus on building relationships with students. Students, he said, just do better when they know they are cared about. Instruction has also evolved, he said, with teachers striving to engage students through activities and actively doing. Students do better and exhibit better behavior when they are engaged, Sexton said.
A new endeavor is called Workday Wednesday. Currently, it is only happening in one class, Sexton said, but in that class one day a week students are learning about specific careers, particularly ones that don’t involve a four-year degree.
It’s part of recognizing as educators that college is not everyone’s path and helping students know there are a lot of good careers available to them. He said they hope to expand this in the future to more than one class.
“We are experimenting with this,” Sexton said, and “hoping to give students a goal, to engage them.” Then when they get to high school, they are beginning with a plan and a goal. “When they are engaged and have a goal, they will graduate.”
In other business, superintendent Quincey Gray reported that the district has reached the end of the first quarter, saying the administration is very “excited about that,” especially given the circumstances. “We feel good about where we are right now,” she said.
Gray also wanted to make sure everyone was aware of the COVID-19 tracker that is available on the district’s website. Go to www.greenfield.k12.oh.us, then mouse over the “Our District” in the banner. The tracker is in the drop-down menu. It is updated daily, Gray said.
The superintendent spoke of her gratitude to parents for their supportive and open communication during the pandemic. She also thanked Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera for personally responding to Rainsboro Elementary, which was on a brief lockdown Monday because of suspicious activity in the area. All parents were notified by the school.
Items on the consent agenda approved by board members included the resignation of Shawna Ross, aide, in December for retirement purposes; the resignation of middle school teacher Robin Garman next March for the purposes of retirement; the resignation of high school science teacher Tim Gossett at the end of the school year; and the purchase of two new buses with grant funds.
Employment recommendations approved by the board were: Mandy Wareikis, special programs secretary; Dalton Sowers, maintenance; Kyle Barr, E Sports; and certified substitutes Yanira Nueven, Shania Massie, Chaquita Reichel, Samantha Gaddis, Andrea Anderson, Marcie Hamilton and Taylor Baker.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.