SALISBURY TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT
As the 2016-2017 school year comes to a close, the Salisbury Township School District faculty discussed some of their successes and challenges during the year with members of the school board at the curriculum and technology meeting held May 22.
From the elementary to the high school, the district focused on various methods and information garnered from a pool of stakeholders including students, parents, administrators and teachers to expand a student’s knowledge, beliefs and skill set to promote a successful graduate at the end of the 13-year scholastic journey.
Superintendent Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss, elaborated on Teaching and Learning 2020’s “Profile of a Graduate” and said the district has sought to develop an understanding of the profile of a graduate, learning beliefs and the ‘Four Cs’ of education; critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.
“What is exciting about this work is that each building tailored their professional learning to the strengths and needs of their individual school. What is powerful about that is it represents the kind of learning that we want to actually have in the classroom as well. I am very proud of the work the faculty has done throughout the school year,” Ziegenfuss said.
According to faculty members at the elementary level, the concepts within the “Profile of a Graduate” are impactful as early as first grade when students are learning to communicate efficiently and ask questions through curiosity.
Faculty members Jessica Shirk, Jane Brennan and Angela Shaffer from Harry S Truman Elementary School said, “As a team it was our goal to get our staff members to have a shared understanding and to become comfortable with the disposition and the skills, knowledge and literacies of the “Profile of a Graduate.”
One of the initiatives at the school is parental interaction encouraged through social media. Student’s parents are able to utilize the ‘“SeeSaw” web-based program which allows them to see and comment on their child’s accomplishments throughout the day.
To promote effective communication at HST, during “Spotlight on a Student” each week, a student is chosen by a member of the faculty to speak to the entire student body and faculty about their achievements, giving the student “ownership” of what they have done.
Western Salisbury Elementary School faculty members Lynn Nestor, Tracy Merrill and Kathy DeBona said they have been teaching their students about the purposefulness of the “Four Cs” in education and developing critical thinking skills in their classrooms through the use of a “critical thinking scrapbook.” The scrapbook is a collective effort of the teachers who share ideas and skills they have been utilizing in their classrooms other colleagues might find effective in their own.
A mangrove tree is used as a visual aid by faculty at WSE to represent the skill level of the students at the school. Each leaf color represents a grade level and a learning belief and “where there is a need for growth” DeBona said.
“We chose a mangrove tree because it has just as much in the root system as it does above ground. We still have to focus on the foundation to make the tree stable.”
To further promote the “Profile of a Graduate” at the elementary level, prior to graduation, the senior class will don their caps and gowns and parade through the halls at both the HST and WSE schools. The staff collectively agreed the senior parade will allow the elementary school students to see their educational path and goals come full circle.
The Senior Walk will be videotaped and will take place June 1 with the first walk taking place at WSE at approximately 11:45 a.m and the second at HST at approximately 1 p.m.
Salisbury High School English teacher Anne Schneider addressed members of the board and said at the high school level the “Profile of a Graduate” started with the faculty and administration. Small groups were formed where faculty members could share ideas and discuss TL2020 and how to advance their student population through educational challenges.
Schneider pointed out the RCN network provided an opportunity for the staff and students to create content, become imaginative, collaborative and develop communication skills for a public audience.
At the middle school level, Principal Ken Parliman said the faculty is developing strategies to determine what interests the students, building consistencies in their teaching techniques, rethinking grading, discussing alternate forms of assessment and the advancement of the STEM program. Critical thinking is at the forefront of the Salisbury Middle School model.
Educational opportunities for the student population will continue throughout the summer months with several programs being offered to students in all the schools in the district.
In order to keep the habit of reading moving forward through the summer months, the summer library program will be held at SMS and will be advertised on the district website and blog. All students are encouraged to take part in the program.
The summer academy for professional development will be held at various sessions throughout the summer for STSD faculty.
Summer Camp, funded by Title I for first through fifth grades will be held 9 to 11:30 a.m. July 17 to 28 at HST. Forty students, based on proficiency and need have been invited to attend the program. The reading camp was created to help continue the progression of reading skills while school is not in session.
Parliman said last year, SMS conducted its first STEM summer workshop. From June 19 to 21, 15 students, on a first come, first serve basis, will take part in STEM Camp to build designs through creativity. Students from sixth to eighth grade are eligible for the STEM workshop.
The SMS nonfiction reading program will be held 8 to 9:30 a.m. Aug. 14 to 18.
SMS is also offering Camp Invention, a fee based weeklong “learning by doing” course. Students and parents interested in the program are encouraged to visit the school’s website for more information.
Camp Jump Start will be held 8:30 a.m. to noon Aug. 14 to 17 at the HST building. The camp incorporates reading skills along with fun activities to promote learning and is by invitation only for first through fifth grade students from both elementary schools.
Looking ahead to the 2017-2018 school year, kindergarten and first grade students at HST and WSE will be introduced to the Wilson Language series, “a comprehensive and interactive reading program utilizing phonemic awareness, word study, reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehensive” strategies. Tier I and Tier II students will take part in the program for 20 to 25 minutes each day.
In order to promote a “love of learning,” socialization skills and development, two years ago kindergarten students in the district went from half-day to full-day classes. Ziegenfuss said early data indicates the change has been beneficial to the students and will continue to be evaluated annually.
On an average school day, kindergarten students at the district have 55 minutes of math classes, two hours of English Language Arts, music and art classes, two recess periods, some content involving science, social studies and health, quiet time and lunch.
Ziegenfuss noted the majority of the parents who responded to a survey concerning the change to full-day kindergarten classes had positive reactions to the change and believe their students are benefiting both academically and socially.
“Teachers have indicated that there are fewer transition issues and stronger reading foundations,” Ziegenfuss said.
Director Joseph Gnall agreed full-day classes are beneficial to the kindergarten students.
“Students have an opportunity to absorb more information during full-day classes, and the day is less stressful and rushed for the child.”
“As the students move through the grades, we will continue to monitor their progress and benchmarks,” Ziegenfuss said.