It all starts with Building School Culture

Great story on an Elementary school in North Carolina that we got started:

Members of N.C. State Board of Education visit three elementary schools – Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

The tour group included state board members Bill Cobey (who is chairman), Olivia Oxendine, Kevin Howell, Tricia Willoughby, as well as North Carolina Principal of the Year Steve Lassiter (who serves as an adviser to the state board) and Phillip Price, the chief financial officer for the Department of Public Instruction.  Superintendent Beverly Emory was there, too.

Hall started by inviting everyone into his office to talk about some of the challenges that Old Town faces and some of the ways in which they are working to meet those challenges.

“We are very proud of what we do here,” Hall said.

Hall 58 First, he talked about the high rate of poverty among Old Town families – 100 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals – and about the fact many students are not yet fluent in English when they come to the school, which is 70 percent Hispanic, and about how many of them lose ground over summers spent in households where Spanish is the principal language spoken.

If it were possible, he said, he would have all students attend a pre-kindergarten program before coming to Old Town as kindergarten students.

Then he talked about ways in which they are working to overcome those challenges, such as staff members working with Eric Jensen, a national expert on approaches that help students from poverty develop the skills they need to succeed. Hall talked about the school’s Augustine tutoring program and the support of business and church partners. He talked about offering ESL (English as a second language) classes to parents.

He talked about programs on the way, such as a parent university that will help parents help their children, and visits to local colleges and universities to show students that higher education can be path for them.

Professionally, he said, he continued to forge ahead after learning that, by state standards, Old Town was a D school. Personally, though, he said, it bothered him. “We are much better than a D school.”

Day in and day out, he said, members of the staff work extremely hard to do what is right for students…

Read the complete article here.

Eric Jensen is a former teacher with a real love of learning. He grew up in San Diego and attended public schools. While his academic background is in English and human development, he has a real love of educational neuroscience. For over 20 years, he has been connecting the research with practical classroom applications.

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