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East Side Elem. planning ahead

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

(Photo)
Mary Ray
Even though the lights are off at East Side Elementary, Principal Mary Ray is still at the office working on plans for the 2009-10 academic school year.

"We've been working with an educational consultant, former (Indiana Department of Education) Title 1 Director Marge Simick." Ray said. "She has been very helpful in helping us to understand the test data."

With the help of Title 1 funds, Ray managed to hire an extra teacher to work in just small groups in kindergarten-second-grade. Students are placed into small groups and concentrate on comprehension.

"We discovered a few years ago that students could read beautifully," she said. "But when questioned over what they were reading, the results were not as beautiful."

Ray said comprehension is the ability for an individual to infer what they are reading to what they are learning.

"As educators we need to know what's going to work in our school for our students," she said.

Though Eastside is seeing success with RTI (Response To Intervention), Ray believes the accomplishment of the Positive Behavior Support Program is the major achievement of the school year.

"You can't do academics without positive behavior," she said.

Ray credits Lisa Coughanower and Pam Faulk for forming the PIT (Positive Intervention Team) Crew.

"They are really responsible for helping everyone function and go," she said.

In concurrence with Eastside's mascot, the Eagles, the staff decided to use the acronym SOAR (Safe, Organized, Accountable, Respectful), which Ray said teaches pride and respect in the students.

At the beginning of the school year, a letter is sent home to parents explaining the expectations teachers anticipate from the students. Students are taught the first day of school what is expected of them when walking down the hall, eating lunch in the cafeteria and playing outside for recess.

If students fail to meet the expectations, then a behavioral documentation form is filed. The documentation explains the location of the offense, who was involved, and what the behavior problem was, whether it was major or minor and the possible motivation.

"If particular students continue to accumulate behavioral documentation forms, then we will talk to the parent and the student to try to find out what is going on to cause this behavior," Ray said. "It really allows us to pinpoint the students that are having problems."

However, if students continue to do positive things within the school, they may receive Eagle feathers. The feathers may then be used at the feather store, which is provided by the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization).

"Students can work for feathers, but to plan on not always getting a feather," she said. "All the rules are consistent through out the school. Consistency is the key to behavior."

Eastside dropped 1.4 percent in the ISTEP+ (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus). Ray and the staff are hoping work in comprehension will increase test results next year because 95 percent of the ISTEP+ is reading.

"We are definitely looking at it and we are going to make sure that our curriculum is being met with the standards," she said. "We are also going to make sure that all students are at grade level."

The goal for next year is to have more students passing ISTEP+. Ray and the staff at Eastside are already making the necessary changes for next year as well as continuing to work at understanding the data.

The school is proud to make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) by meeting the 15 standards set by the state and is going to continue to strive to do it again next year.

"We want to make sure that every student has every opportunity to do what they want when they are done at Northview (High School) and we are working to give them that," she said. "There is no reason why someone can't go to college and we have to make sure as educators that all of the students can read, because that is the key."

Eastside retired one teacher, Rachel Fagg, who worked with Clay Community Schools for 33 years.

Even as the phone started ringing, Ray was still smiling after a good year.

"I want to thank the staff and students, we really have a dynamite staff," she said. "But it is the students that are great, even the ones that I see frequently, they are still great."



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