HES looking to the future
The students and staff at Hillsboro Elementary School have their eyes on the prize and are implementing several programs to reach their goals.
Principal Ricky Sharp gave a presentation to the board of education Monday night at the LSIC (Local School Improvement Council) meeting.
Sharp proudly reported that HES met AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) this year and attributed the success of the students to the hard work of all the staff.
“We contribute our success to many things,” Sharp said. “We started the use of the Acuity program last year. [Superintendent C.C. Lester] brought in Sandy Foster from the Office of Assessment and Accountability. She trained our staff members on the use of the Acuity program and she taught the teachers how to build individual lessons designed around students’ weaknesses.”
The teachers meet every other month for a collaboration day to build the Acuity lessons and Sharp said this has been very successful.
The school has also implemented math and writing programs which give the students the upper-hand when preparing for standardized testing.
“We have Mountain Math intervention time,” Sharp said. “We found it very successful. It offers remediation activities for students in mathematics.”
Last year, the program was used in third through fifth grade and has been expanded this year to kindergarten through fifth grade.
Thanks to the technology at HES, the students have made strides in the West Virginia Writes program.
“We completed more West Virginia Writes lessons than any other school in the county,” Sharp said. “We have one-to-one computer ratio, we have time built into our schedule to where the students have half-an-hour every day in the computer lab. The other schools don’t have that, so we have reason for having more lessons completed than everyone else.”
The school has also completed more techSteps lessons than any other schools due to the technology.
Intervention programs are also in place to assist readers on all levels.
“As well as helping the struggling reader, we’re helping the accelerated readers,” Sharp said.
A reward program, Red Devil Pride, has been implemented to recognize students on a short-term and long-term basis for their achievements. The students receive Devil Dollars which they can cash in on the rewards cart or, this year, for a movie day.
“We’ve offered movie day once a month to the students and they can buy a ticket for seven devil dollars, a drink for a dollar and popcorn for two dollars,” Sharp said. “If they manage the save enough money that they can buy two tickets, then they can buy a ticket for a parent.”
Now that the school has achieved AYP, a prediction Sharp made at the open house last year, the principal has a new prediction.
“This year, I’ve opened up my big mouth again and I’ve challenged the staff. Not only are we going to make AYP next year, we’re going to have the highest test scores in the county,” he said. “It’s going to happen, I believe we can do it.”
The school continues to implement new programs, including more intervention time and more informational texts used in science and social studies classes.
Sharp recognized his staff for their dedication and hard work and pointed out that special education teacher Samantha McClure is doing a great job despite only being half-time. Sharp asked the board to consider making McClure a full-time teacher because she is giving her personal time to work with her students.
Sharp also added that the school is grateful the board is trying to bring art and music into the curriculum. He said the community has banded together to help with fundraising to get instruments and other supplies that are needed.
Lester said he is still looking for teachers for both programs.
Parent Anne Walker expressed her concern with the amount of time the speech therapist has to work with students. Walker’s daughter is a preschool student with an IEP (Individual Education Plan) which states that she needs 340 minutes a month of speech intervention. Walker said, to date, her daughter has met with the speech therapist for 15 minutes total.
She said she doesn’t question the therapist’s abilities, but she is concerned about her daughter’s progress.
The board asked Lester to look into the schedule and to see if it is possible to increase the speech therapist’s hours.
Several concerned parents also asked about the shelf life of fifth grade at HES. The board said it is looking into moving fifth grade back to both HES and Marlinton Elementary School from Marlinton Middle School. A time frame has not been set for this move.
The board recognized the following students for making distinguished in at least one area on the Westest: Cassidy Hardesty, Logan Hively, Faith Johnson, Savannah McMillion, Alexis Price, Lanty Rose and Victoria Rose.
Prior to the LSIC meeting, the board of education held two expulsion hearings for two male Pocahontas County High School students who were in possession of marijuana on school property. The board approved placing both students in the alternative education program.
The next board meeting is Monday, October 22, at 7 p.m. in the board of education conference room.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org