Intermediate school focuses on increased student proficiency
Warm Springs Intermediate School wants all students to achieve proficiency in reading and language arts and math and to be ready for middle school, said Principal Joyce Ott. She spoke at their local school improvement council (LSIC) presentation at the February 7 school board meeting.
Strategies to achieve those goals included direct instruction, intervention, differentiated instruction, staff development and standards-based math lessons. All students have the goal of reading 25 books during the school year, she said.
The Warm Springs Academic Support Program after-school program started in January and runs through May. It targets students that need additional help in reading/language arts and math.
The school needed staff development in differentiated instruction and increasing students’ depth of knowledge.
Technology is being integrated into the classroom. Students have access to 21st Century technology tools. Positive behavior support is helping to create a safe, structured and nurturing learning environment.
Kids with disruptive behavior are removed from the classroom and sent to work with remedial specialist Lorie Faith in the Flex Program until they are emotionally under control. The program had numerous success stories, Ott said.
The school is putting a lot of emphasis on curriculum this year and the main focus is students’ writing, Assistant Principal Dudley Cable said.
They were working with individual student needs and Supported Personalized Learning (SPL), the new term for Response to Intervention. (RTI) The school did not meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) in reading and language arts and in math.
Team leaders said teachers are using West Virginia Writes, the 4-square process, vocabulary aids, word problems, hands-on projects, different types of writing with real world applications, math key words and word lists to increase vocabulary to raise student achievement.
They are sharing expectations and scores with students so kids can see where they need to improve. Teachers were also planning for the new Next Generation content standards and objectives. (CSOs)
The school needed continued coaching in writing, math and reading as well as an additional fulltime remedial specialist.
Students have been collecting Pennies for Patients for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation as a school project. They have raised $3,000 as of Monday.
They were also learning about the United States through a program called “50 Nifty” where students were creating art to go with their state.
Several high school students have been mentoring intermediate school students, reading with them for 30 minutes and then shooting basketball for 10 to 15 minutes. The students are building positive relationships.
The new Lobby Guard unit has been installed at the intermediate school. All visitors must have a photo driver’s license to verify their identity as they sign in at the Lobby Guard kiosk. Visitors are encouraged to allow extra time for the sign-in process when coming to the school.
Cable said they were working on getting turf on the back field. Some 80% of what was bare ground is growing Turf Grass.
Staff and students were also excited about their new fence. The school is in its eighth year and doesn’t have many facility needs. There are around 142 floor tiles with hairline fractures or small cracks that need replaced.
Ott and Cable said in an interview that the berms of the lower access road that goes past the parking area to the back of the school will be extended and graveled. People park along the side of the road there when there are big school events and the ground gets soft. The project will be started in June after school is out.
Guidance counselor Matt Tolliver is working with all classes on cyber-bullying prevention. He is also teaching kids empathy and compassion.
They’ve had less than five phone calls from parents about bullying this year, she said. They’ve done a lot of education. When kids recognize bullying, they report it. They know how not to be victims and to stand up for others.
They have behavior issues with around 1% of their students. Kids come to school with lots of emotional baggage, like adults, Ott said. Staff models behavior they want kids to demonstrate.
Intermediate school “is the age where you have the biggest impact in giving them the skills they may need to be successful,” she said.
They are encouraging math and science centers in the classroom since reading centers have been successful.
Kids are rising to the challenges of West Virginia Writes and learning about spreadsheets, clip art, PowerPoint presentations, word processing, e-mail and hyperlinks through Tech Steps, Ott said.
Students and teachers are all working hard, Ott said. They are focusing on a few things at a time until they do them well and are taking small steps each year that will impact the school the most.
“Change takes time,” she noted.