School improvement councils brief BOE on progress at Rock Cave, French Creek schools

FRENCH CREEK – Each year, Upshur County Board of Education meetings are scheduled at different county schools, giving Local School Improvement Councils and faculty senate representatives at those locations a chance to update board members on both new and ongoing projects.

The BOE members can see what the students are doing and get a better feel for the atmosphere of each school.

The Tuesday Oct. 9 board meeting took place at French Creek Elementary School, and the board heard from representatives from French Creek and Rock Cave elementary schools.

Board president Dr. Tammy Samples said meeting at the different schools is very helpful to the board members.

“The value to holding our meetings in our community schools is multi-faceted,” Samples said. “This allows us to visit each school at least once yearly, see children’s work displayed, hear directly from school employees about the many things that are happening in each school and provide community members the opportunity to attend the meetings when we are in their areas of the county.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Rock Cave Elementary School Principal Amanda Craig said the school met its goal set last year in math, which was to improve by about 5 percent. However, she said the school missed its goal in English Language Arts by a few points, so they will move that goal up for next year.

Craig said the school met the Scorecard targets set by the West Virginia Department of Education. She added that Rock Cave has partially met the state education department’s standards with its accountability system.

“With the deficits we had in math, we have implemented the Eureka Curriculum,” Craig said. “We are receiving comments from the parents saying they are seeing a difference in the students’ understanding of math from last year to this. We have had our math parent involvement activity and it was good, but the Parent Advisory Committee said we need more. So, we will be planning some more from that.”

Craig said the shortfall in ELA is writing.

“We have some things we have done over the years but have fallen away from them. We are working with the Title I Office and our coach and are implementing a new writing curriculum called ‘Being a Writer,’” she explained. “We are hoping that will fill in some of the deficits with writing and ELA.”

At the end of last school year, Craig said about 21 percent of the students were chronically absent – a fairly large number of students.

“This year we are doing something different with our attendance incentives,” she said. “We are working with Horace Mann Insurance and doing drawings each quarter for students who have five or fewer absences. We want to make sure everybody is acknowledged for their efforts to attend school and this expands who we recognize for that.”

Hannah Lively, a Rock Cave Elementary School fifth-grade teacher, said the school’s faculty senate used carry-over funds to purchase a rug for a classroom and two new digital radios. She said the mission of Rock Cave Elementary School is to provide education through safe, student-centered learning environments in a respectful caring atmosphere.

French Creek Elementary School Principal Kasey Baisden said her school recognizes the need for academic improvement.

“Our teachers willingly give up planning every Monday to meet with an academic coach, the principal, Title I and Special Education,” Baisden said. “Our focus during those meetings is small group reading instruction and long-range planning for math. We are doing the Eureka Math.”

Baisden said she asked each teacher to select two students who are struggling and two students who are where they should be for a case study.

“We are going to look at the data and hopefully learn how to move those students along as a team,” she said.

Another popular activity at French Creek Elementary School is college visitation.

“Each of our grades get to visit a different college each year, so by the time they leave French Creek Elementary School they have visited six colleges,” Baisden said. “We hope that opens their eyes to those things. Our fourth grade visited Glenville State College today, and the WACO Center was mind-blowing to them.”

Baisden said the school has some raised beds and an outdoor classroom which has not been utilized for some time.

“It was built in the 1990s. We are trying to refresh that. The kids like that,” she said.

Christy Suder said the school’s Faculty Senate at French Creek Elementary School voted to give $2,000 to the building fund for a new building the Fred Eberle Technical Center will be constructing.

“We also voted to give $1,500 toward reward trips for the students,” Suder said. “French Creek has become really active in searching for grants. We are very proud of our grant-writing team.”

The next Upshur County BOE meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at Washington District Elementary School. LSIC and Faculty Senate representatives from Washington District, Union and Tennerton Elementary Schools will be making their presentations.

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