Soaring at North Jones Elementary
March 4, 2013
North Jones Elementary’s theme for this school year is “Soaring.” Thanks to the Terrific Schools Initiative, our students have truly soared at North Jones. Through the Terrific Schools professional development component, our teachers have also soared to higher levels. PD360, a computer based program purchased with Terrific Schools funds, has provided our teachers with videos on timely topics, learning strategies and best practices. These videos have served as great springboards for productive discussions on differentiated instruction to meet students' individual needs. The initiative has also allowed our teachers to attend professional development workshops to learn new and innovative teaching techniques.
Our school has focused on continued student growth in the area of Language Arts. Teachers have followed the Star Early Literacy, Star Reading, and Accelerated Reader programs with integrity, while collaborating with one another to apply strategies and best practices learned through professional development. In the 1st-3rd grade classes, 11 classrooms have been certified as Model Classrooms, with one classroom certified as a Master Classroom with the Accelerated Reader Program. For 12 consecutive weeks, students in Model Classrooms averaged at least 20 minutes of independent reading time per day; 90 percent of the class scored 85 percent or higher on the reading quizzes. In the Master Classroom, students scored 90 percent or higher on the reading quizzes and have maintained this level for 18 weeks.
The Terrific Schools Initiative has also allowed our school to come together through Professional Learning Communities, as we collaborate with one another to better educate students and help them become more successful. We look forward to continued success and future improvements for our students, teachers and school through the Terrific Schools Initiative.
Terrific School Bruce Upper Elementary is All Smiles
Feb. 14, 2013
Valentine’s Day always brings lots of smiles to elementary schools. Judging from the deliveries at Bruce Upper Elementary School in Calhoun County, one of ten schools selected in Mississippi as recipients of a Teacher Incentive Fund grant, known as Terrific Schools, lots of smiles will be seen later from BUES (Believing Ultimately Everyone Succeeds) students.
“I see more smiles. Teachers are learning the value of collaboration. We’ve made some major breakthroughs thanks to the Terrific Schools program,” said Principal Paula Monaghan.
“As a former kindergarten teacher, being in charge of an elementary classroom was certainly challenging enough. But to be selected as a Terrific Schools site in just my second year as principal, well, you can imagine the pressure to succeed,” said Monaghan.
And succeed she has. In just a short period of time, Bruce Upper Elementary has shown substantial student growth and achievement. The school is moving in the right direction on all counts.
“When they introduced me to the new data system, I had to sit down and really study how this was going to work. Now, we are truly a data-driven school,” added Monaghan.
This year in particular, BUES teachers attribute student growth and achievement to their Professional Learning Community (PLC).
“At the beginning, teachers were hesitant to participate, and frankly, they were not getting all that they should out of the PLC meetings. We’ve learned that it’s the day-in/day-out mid-checks that are so important. We look at the targeted weekly objectives. If we didn’t meet them by at least 60%, we go back, collaborate, look for strategies to get through to the students, and re-adjust. Now, we are shooting for 85% success every week,” she said.
“We share a lot of ‘Ah-ha’ moments. The light bulb is beginning to shine, and our teachers are really seeing how the PLC positively affects their performance,” concluded Monaghan.