Long Drain Provides Board With Update
Principal Paul Huston of Long Drain Elementary School provided the Wetzel County Board of Education with an update of happenings at the elementary school at the Sept. 21 meeting. The meeting was held at Long Drain School, due to the yearly Local School Improvement Council (LSIC) reports.
Huston went over last year’s LSIC goals, which were created to provide more opportunities for learning, provide encouragement and recognition. To achieve this goal, funds were used for the purchase of incentives to recognize students.
Also, Long Drain School began the process to create student clubs. Huston said the school was unable to start clubs last year but are planning on it next month. Last year, the student council was given a more active role in community projects. Students have collected used jeans for homeless kids, as well as food and other items for the needy.
Teacher Sharon Snider provided a report on Long Drain Schools’ summer school program. Snider said instructors chose to continue with the previous summer’s STEM (Science Technology Engineering, and Math) activities.
The Summer 2015’s theme was fairy tales.
“We didn’t know how it was going to appeal to some of our older students, but they dove right into it and really enjoyed it,” Snider said.
She explained that each day students focused on a different fairy tale, which was read to them after breakfast. Different activities relating to the fairy tale were held, providing learning experiences in math, reading, art, science, and social studies.
In another matter, Huston provided the board with a look at LDS’s scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which were taken for the first time last year. Huston described the difference between the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the WESTEST as being “night and day.” Huston said third grade students scored 11 points higher in English/Language Arts than the West Virginia average. Likewise, fifth graders showed improvement than the previous year.
“Those kids worked their tails off,” Huston said. “I talked to them throughout the year, and I told them we were going to do our best. I’m proud of them.”
Huston said sixth graders scored five points over the state average and seventh graders scored seven points over the state average . As for math, five out of six of Huston grades either “beat the state average or tied it.” Only two grades at LDS were tested in science. Fourth graders scored at 44 percent proficiency in science, compared to a 36 percent proficiency for the state. Sixth graders scored at 56 percent proficiency, compared to a state average of 39 percent proficiency.
“Reading and writing is going to be our focus,” Huston said. “Kids have to be able to write, and they have to be able to read two or more sources and look at those sources, and then write about them. They have to use information from those sources correctly. That’s a life skill.”
Teacher Dawn West spoke to the board regarding the LSIC goals for 2015-2016. One of West’s main points dealt with her “reading academy.”
West said “Ms. West’s Reading Academy” is a school-wide book project. This academy will be held on Saturdays and will include parental involvement.
“The children will go through practicing reading at their reading level, with the accelerated reader program,” she said. “We will work on skills and fluency drills and things to get them to become more fluent in reading and more confident. We will have a graduation ceremony when they progress to the next grade level. Parents will be involved in coming and watching what I do and helping their child to read better.”
“A lot of times children don’t have time to practice reading,” West said. “They come in for a reading intervention that lasts 30 to 40 minutes a day, and they go to the classroom the rest of the day. If they are below grade level, they are barely able to keep their head above water.”
West also described a “One Book, One School” initiative. West said that while at a national reading conference, she watched a presentation on the strategy, which involves each individual in the school receiving a copy of one book. West said the school will hold an event in which they do a “big reveal of what the book is.” The program can be extended to the town and will involve different games and activities and incentives.
Huston also described the newly implemented “URcast” network. This program enables children to take a downloaded lesson home, via a small electronic tablet, to their parents.
“As long as the device has been in the school, they don’t need internet access to whatever they need to see,” Huston said.
The board was thanked for several of the purchases they had made for LDS during the 2014-2015 school year.
For 2015-2016, LDS requested that their school sign be replaced, an assistant principal to be shared with HHS, funding for positive behavior support, 40 iPads, and funding for informational text to be added to the library and classrooms.