WILMINGTON — There were positive comments this week from Wilmington City Schools (WCS) elementary buildings administrators about how the new grade-level center formats are going after two months of instruction.
Grade-level centers group children together by grade level, rather than by geography. From the start, one advantage that was given as a reason to structure the three WCS elementary schools by grade level is that it enables more collaboration among grade-level teachers who are all in the same building.
Holmes Elementary School Assistant Principal Heather Davis spoke during her report to the school board about teachers there using data and working collaboratively on their curriculum in the building that houses grades K, 1 and 2.
“That’s one of the major strengths I’ve seen in the grade-level centers — that there’s a lot of focus on that alignment on the curriculum across all of the kindergarten and first- and second-grade classrooms,” said Davis.
East End Elementary School Principal Jen Martin echoed the same point about teacher collaboration for her building which houses children who are in preschool or fifth grade.
The board of education meeting was held at Denver Place Elementary School where the district’s third- and fourth-graders attend. As the meeting’s host administrator, Principal Cortney Karshner-Rethmel held a student recognition, shining the spotlight on participants in a 10-week after-school program called “Girls on the Run”.
Though the program involves running, the focus is not on athleticism so much as building confidence.
“Designed to allow every girl to recognize her inner strength, the Girls on the Run curriculum inspires girls to define their lives on their own terms,” said Karshner-Rethmel.
The program’s lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development, the principal said.
“Participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age. They also develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences,” added Karshner-Rethmel.
To return to Davis’ and Martin’s reports to the board, Davis said two family nights hosted at Holmes Elementary were well-attended, drawing more than 100 families. Parents were able to learn more about their children’s studies, and were able to take home math games.
Educators have developed 165 reading improvement plans for struggling learners in Holmes’ grade levels K through 2, said the assistant principal.
“Early intervention is key” for children who are struggling with a basic skill such as reading, Davis noted.
Supporting the early reading intervention, she said, are all Holmes classroom teachers, six Title staffers, parents, community volunteers, the Harvest of Gold after-school nonprofit program, as well as an upcoming after-school tutoring program through the school.
East End’s Martin said fifth-grade students there have been given a reading challenge to read as much as possible, with the Wilmington Fire Department as a partner when it comes to rewarding top readers. At the end of the term, the three fifth-graders who have read for the most hours will receive a ride in a fire truck, spend time with and ask questions of a firefighter, and eat at a restaurant.
For the building’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports approach that involves behavioral supports and helps to create a positive school climate, there have been more than 650 positive referrals so far this school year at East End, she said.
After earning a positive referral, a student can go to the main office and pick a sucker or a pencil, meant to reinforce positive behavior in children.
Wilmington Middle School Principal Bert Martini reported the building has “something different this year” — monthly assemblies where each grade level gathers in the gymnasium and teachers recognize students and indicate why they are being recognized.
So far, more than a third of the students have been recognized for things they’re doing or for attaining perfect attendance.
Martini was wearing an orange Hurricane T-shirt as he spoke to board members. Parents of middle school students are encouraged to log onto Progress Book this week and check on their children’s current grades. A raffle will be held for the parents who do that, and four or five Hurricane T-shirts will be awarded parents for each of the building’s grade levels.
During his report, the principal said the cross-country boys and girls went to a state meet and were “very successful.”
Laurel Oaks Career Campus Assistant Dean Mike Hart addressed the WCS board, focusing his comments on Great Oaks’ request that regional voters renew an expiring 2.7-mills operating levy for a continuing period of time. Because it is a renewal, taxes will not increase.
He said 87 WHS students attend the Laurel Oaks Career Campus in Wilmington, and 91 WHS students take part in a satellite program at the high school called “Project Lead the Way”. There are even four WHS students who travel to Scarlet Oaks in a Cincinnati suburb to take career programs not offered at Laurel, which offers 17 career training and education programs.
In board action:
• Accepted two donations: $1,000 cash to the WHS Robotics Club from the Milford Athletic Boosters; and $200 cash to Holmes Elementary from Adam and Jennifer Sharpe.
• Requested the Ohio General Assembly to act immediately and in advance of Dec. 1 to extend the two additional graduation pathways authorized by prior state legislation to the Classes of 2019, 2020 and 2021. In recommending the measure to the school board, WCS Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart stated, “I support any efforts we can make to extend Graduation Options for our students.”
• Approved increasing the hourly pay rate for substitute bus drivers from $13.27 to $14.25 “in order to stay competitive with competing districts and jobs.” In addition, the school board approved implementing a training wage of $10 per hour for a maximum of 50 hours for bus transportation trainees. Many school districts have reported problems with securing a sufficient number of school bus drivers.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.