"It was really a fun year," Principal Gail Williams said. "We did a lot of fun things with the kids."
VBE has made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for six out of the last seven years and the last four consecutive years.
"We have also showed large gains in NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) and we have raised our ISTEP+ (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus) exam 14.3 percent," she said. "We are still below the state average as far as total, but to have that much of a gain is great."
Williams credits the growth to the attendance of the students. Williams applauded the parents for making sure their child was at school and being involved in their education.
"We had the highest attendance percent in the (Clay Community School) Corporation at 92 percent," she said. "Because of attendance and stability the students were here and they were able to learn."
An attendance program was set into place and at the end of the school year, and there were 12 students who were never tardy, left early or missed a day.
"At the end of each grading period we had a party, make their own pizzas, tacos, ice cream sundae and dilly bars," she said. "We did, have a much higher number of perfect attendance, but the flu really did some damage.
Van Buren participates in a school-wide program called Positive Behavior Support. Students receive a blue light bulb for doing something positive. Students could save the light bulbs for a number of incentives ranging from raffles or an extra recess for the whole class. The garbage bag sale, sponsored by the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), pays for the incentive items.
The PTO also sponsored the Read to Me Family Fun Night. The money raised was used to purchase books for the Library and classrooms.
Daily 5 a program in which students are broken down into literacy centers (small groups) to focus on remediation and enrichment in Language Arts.
"I was really proud of our Kindergarten I.A. (Instructional Assistants)," she said. "They stepped up and began doing remediation with third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students."
Williams also credits the teamwork among the staff and faculty for the success of the school year.
"The scores show that the planning activities by the teachers are working," she said. " It was beneficial to the kids and we will continue to do it next year."
As office referrals declined, Williams said there were no behavior problems or fighting.
"It was really a great year," she said. "We made great improvements academically that we are going to continue to focus on for next year."
One of the changes made at VBE was the third-grade students taking the spring ISTEP+ online.
The staff also received training on RTI (Response to Intervention), and the implementation will begin in the fall with kindergarten and first grade.
"We are going to go slow at first because (Instructional Assistants) will have to be moved," she said. "We want to do this right."
Williams believes the success of students rely on the teachers teaching them.
"It's not about the programs it really comes down to the people," she said. "We are here for the kids, to help them reach their potential."
On Aug. 7, Van Buren will be having a staff retreat entitled, "What great teachers do differently." However, one staff member will not be returning as Sindy McCullough retired after 23.5 years of teaching, 22.5 years of which came with the Clay Community School Corporation.
"I'm so proud of the gains made by the students, parents and staff," Williams said. "They really went above and beyond this year."