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Chino Valley Review | Chino Valley, Arizona

home : features : community November 25, 2015

1/15/2014 9:21:00 AM
New traditions help school restructuring succeed
Review file photo/Geri KinsleyOn your mark, get set, GO! Third- and fourth-grade students and teachers at Del Rio Elementary School take off for the Howling Fun Run on Halloween at the school’s dirt track in November. Family exercise events are just a few of the new traditions the school created this past semester.
Review file photo/Geri Kinsley

On your mark, get set, GO! Third- and fourth-grade students and teachers at Del Rio Elementary School take off for the Howling Fun Run on Halloween at the school’s dirt track in November. Family exercise events are just a few of the new traditions the school created this past semester.

Like a family creating new traditions - a special Christmas tradition or an annual camping trip - the Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) has implemented many new traditions and programs this past semester as school staff, students and parents faced restructuring of three of its campuses.

It's been a huge task, but it's working, report the principals from the three schools involved - Territorial Elementary School, now a Kindergarten Center only; Del Rio Elementary School, now 1st-4th grades; and Heritage Middle School, which now includes the fifth-graders.

Del Rio Elementary School Principal Susan Clark told the Chino Valley School Board at its Dec. 9 meeting she couldn't be happier with how staff, students and parents have worked together and gotten involved with new traditions and programs.

"Change has its challenges, but it also brings new opportunities and the commitment to become ever more success now that students and staff are all together," Clark wrote in the district's fall newsletter.

Clark described new tradition events, such as Pastries for Parents morning, Family Fun & Fitness Night, Family Yoga, the Howling Halloween Fun Run, Family Thanksgiving Lunch, and Turkey Trot Fun Run, as well keeping an old tradition event, the school's annual Veterans Day Celebration.

Clark also said combing the grades provides other benefits, including class sizes that have either stayed the same or in some cases gone down.

She explained that no longer does a highway both symbolically and physically divide classmates.

She also talked about the State's Common Core standards each school must adhere to and Del Rio's teams to improve student achievement. In June 2010, the State adopted the standards in English language arts and mathematics, as a way to better prepare students for college or the workforce.

Del Rio teacher teams, Clark said, used a four-part guide to assimilate into one newly formed staff - team-building, storming, norming and performing. During the team building stage, they got to know each other; in the storming stage, differences and conflicts came out but team members gave solution options. In the third step, morning, the teams came to agreements, and in performing, the team moved ahead to reach goals and engage students.

"We built on our commonalities," Clark said, "to connect people, work hard, have fun and 'tickle' the brain."

Duane Howard is the principal at Territorial Elementary School, as well as the District Superintendent. The kindergarten classes are referred to as the Kindergarten Center. All students start their day in the school's Cafetorium, where the recite the pledge, sing patriotic songs, sign the pledge in American Sign Language, honor birthdays and receive words of encouragement," Howard states in the district's fall newsletter. The classes are in one of the school's eight-room wings, which allow the teachers and students to connect with each other throughout the day.

Howard utilizes the skills and experience of teacher Brandy Cox as "Lead Teacher" and Administrative Assistant Elanna Jackson.

Heritage Middle School's (HMS) Principal Mardi Read said all four grades at her school each have their own building "pod" where students can gather and transition quickly to their core classes. The school is laid out in pods, with doors in each pod facing into a small courtyard.

Another program Read implemented at HMS is the "Capturing Kids' Hearts," which fosters "a caring environment in classrooms and around campus." Teachers greet their students with a smile and a handshake.

A tool grades kindergarten though 8th have seen success with this school year is a Smart Board, an electronic "chalk board" that allows the teacher to download and the students to interact with computer-generated instructional materials. It serves as a white board, a television, and it mimics a computer's desktop, reports Howard.

Each school has a website with lots of information, including calendars, school news, newsletters, staff directories and more.

In addition, each school has site councils and Parent-Teacher-Student Organizations. Contact the school for more information.

The public can attend district school board meetings the 2nd Monday each month at 6 p.m. in the district office board room, 650 E. Center Street.

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