WILMINGTON — About 15 Holmes Elementary students were more than a little surprised when their principal and other staff showed up at their front door a week before classes started to visit and leave some school supplies.
Holmes Elementary School Principal Carrie Zeigler related the story of going on “house calls” when she gave a report Monday to the Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Board of Education.
“We went to houses where the students were shocked to see us about a week before school started,” Zeigler said. “And they were like, ‘We haven’t even gotten into trouble yet. What are you doing here?’ ”
Zeigler, a dean of students and a school counselor took book bags and other supplies to the young students.
The officials picked out students who previously struggled to get back in the school routine, according to Zeigler. She told board members she thought the surprise in-person visits helped the students.
And the visiting had a booster effect on the visitors, too, the principal said.
“It was really fun to see them and how excited they were about school, which in turn got us pretty excited,” said Zeigler.
The visits, she explained, were part of an effort to emphasize communication and collaboration with families “right off the bat” to build that relationship.
In the same vein, staffers have tried each day to pick out a handful of students who merit a positive phone call home, “before we start giving negative phone calls home,” Zeigler said.
Similarly, a digital tool called ClassDoJo that helps keep parents in the loop by communicating with them will be used by all Holmes staff this year, the principal said. Students receive points throughout the day for positive behavior and can also have points taken away.
ClassDoJo “instantly tells parents how their child did in school, because we’ve learned that a lot of times they wonder how they did.”
In another matter, Holmes Elementary is looking for adult volunteers to be a big brother or sister one day a week for about an hour after school in the school’s Big Brother, Big Sister program. At least 12 students there are already signed up.
Denver Place Elementary School Principal Karen Long said the new elementary music teacher is energetic and full of new ideas. An outdoor learning lab on the front lawn of Denver Place is being revived, said Long.
East End Elementary School Principal Jen Martin said the building will hold a “One School, One Book” schoolwide project in October. The families read at home together, and the students do activities at school connected with the reading. At the end of the month, there will be a family event, said Martin.
WHS Principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart said there are 10 new teachers at the high school. She reported the building has gone from four to three lunch periods.
Wilmington Middle School Principal Jeff Sherby said an early emphasis in that building is on students having respect and praise for classified — that is, nonteaching — staff.
In other business at the meeting:
• WCS Superintendent Ron Sexton said there is a new emotionally disturbed unit located at the Laurel Oaks campus in Wilmington for students who have been unsuccessful in a regular classroom setting.
WCS Special Ed/Pupil Services Coordinator Natalie Harmeling, along with the other county schools, helped to put the site together, Sexton said.
Previously, the students would go to Cincinnati or Dayton. The local location is more convenient for the parents and students who don’t have to travel on roads as long, said the superintendent.
• The board approved a one-year agreement regarding the DP&L Energy Residential Electricity Affinity Program. According to information provided to the board, the program offers discounted electric rates to WCS employees and is voluntary to those who pay a DP&L metered invoice.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.