A parent who pops into Kae Avenue Elementary School might see students working on all kinds of different activities at once.

Their endeavors might be varied, but the students all are pushing toward the same goal: becoming better readers.

"All our students receive individual instruction (and) we are seeing results," said Kelly Golsby, principal of Etna Road Elementary School.

In August, the Whitehall City School District opened its Early Literacy Campus at Kae Avenue and the adjacent C. Ray Williams Early Education Center.

All of the district's first-grade students began attending Kae Avenue in August; students in grades 2-5 attend either Beechwood or Etna Road elementary school.

Kindergarten students attend either Kae Avenue or C. Ray Williams, where pre-kindergarten students also are enrolled.

"For such a wholesale change, it's been a smooth transition," said Chris Hardy, coordinator of elementary education for Whitehall schools.

The district has about 720 students in pre-kindergarten through first grade who attend classes at the Early Literacy Campus, said Ty Debevoise, the district's director of communications and marketing.

"It was a major change to house all of our pre-K through first-graders in one place," said Hardy, but the district's transportation department made it a success, "with only a few hiccups."

Now the district is focused on honing instruction at the Early Literacy Campus.

During the course of each day, students at Kae Avenue participate in blocks of intervention instruction, Golsby said.

"Every student receives intervention time," Golsby said.

That takes several forms.

In a given classroom, three or four students work with an English as a Second Language instructor, while another small group might work on their Individualized Education Plans, which set personal goals for each child, Golsby said.

"At the same time, other students might be working with a speech pathologist and others in a guided-reading group," Golsby said.

Stefanie Dimofski, a first-grade teacher, has taught three years for Whitehall schools; it's her first at Kae Avenue.

"I've had an amazing year here so far," Dimofski said.

Although assessments during the remainder of this year will more clearly indicate the progress of students at the campus, teachers and administrators say they are confident early indicators point to success.

"The (first-grade) teachers here talk to each other about what is working best (and) the focus is intense this year from the top down to helping our students achieve," Dimofski said.

Hardy said the Early Literacy Campus is meeting expectations of improving the reading skills and literacy of students at a unified venue.

"Everyone is on the same page and moving in the same direction," Hardy said.

The first-year efforts are "closing the gap" at an early age for our students as "we move them toward success," Hardy said.

Lessons learned this year will help further improve instruction at the Early Literacy Campus, Hardy said.

"Our staff (at Kae) watches every day for little tweaks," and that, coupled with testing results and other observations made during the current school year, can be applied in the future, Hardy said.

"We hope to make even bigger gains (next year)," he said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo