Reynoldsburg News

K-4 STEM Elementary School

Herbert Mills may ease waiting list for Summit

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Reynoldsburg City School District administrators continue to plan curriculum for the district's second elementary school of choice at Herbert Mills Elementary School.

School board members heard a presentation by Herbert Mills Principal Teresa Smith and other administrators involved in the planning process during the Jan. 15 board meeting.

The district opened Summit K-4 STEM Elementary School in August 2011 as its first elementary school of choice.

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Schools of choice may be attended by any district student regardless of where they live.

Superintendent Steve Dackin said parents who are waiting to enroll their children at Summit might want to consider Herbert Mills.

"We are looking to next school year and the opening of our second STEM elementary school," he said. "We currently have students on a waiting list at Summit STEM, so we wanted to give parents a second choice for their children."

Smith said the new school will combine a STEM-based curriculum with global-learning aspects.

"We will build on STEM teaching strategies by using technology and mathematical problem-solving to investigate and research real-world problems," she said.

She said students will learn to "engage and imagine, think independently and flexibly to develop innovating solutions to problems."

The curriculum is based on three core foundation tenets: global learning, inquiry-based learning and blended learning.

Smith said after students "imagine, plan and design," they will have time to improve their designs or solutions and sharing results.

Jana Alig, director of elementary education, said students at Herbert Mills will learn world languages to become "global problem-solvers." She said they will learn to connect to the world with Skype, video conferencing, email and other technology.

Dackin said he is "pleased with the energy, enthusiasm and hard work that went into the planning process" of the new school of choice. He said the district still is working on the transportation issues.

French Run

Board members last week also heard an update on French Run Elementary School's continuous improvement plan from Principal Chris Hardy.

Hardy said goals in the continuous improvement plan include achieving at least 100 as a Performance Index score on the state report card along with meeting all state achievement indicators.

French Run was rated "Effective" on the last state report card.

Hardy said the latest Ohio Achievement Test results showed tremendous improvement.

"We went from a 44 percent passage on reading tests to a 78.2 percent passing rate," he said.

He said the improvement plan is based on building successful relationships between students and teachers and teaching 21st-century learning skills.

"Students will own their learning and we will stress student engagement, participation and positive recognition," he said.

He said programs such as the Watch Dogs, in which fathers volunteer to work with students, and Firebird Fellows, in which parents volunteer for one hour each week to help tutor a child, have increased parent involvement.

French Run teachers meet monthly at every grade level.

"The teachers make sure we use clear learning targets at each grade level," he said. "We also talk about every single kid at French Run at least monthly."

Hardy said intervention techniques usually involve keeping students in their classrooms, not pulling them out.

"Instead of pulling students and teachers out of the classroom for intervention, we put the students in small groups within the classroom," he said.

He said important components of the plan include collaboration, communication, complex thinking, creativity and character education.

Dackin said he meets regularly with Hardy.

"Chris brings over his data student by student," he said. "To have improved from a 44 percent passage rate last school year on the achievement tests to a 78 percent passage rate is a tribute to outstanding teaching.

"When I go into French Run, there is a sense of connectivity that is really inspiring," he said. "I think connecting with kids is fundamental to their academic success."

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