As students prepare for the start of the school year, teachers and administration are also doing their part in ensuring a successful year.
“Obviously getting the building ready and getting the teaching areas ready are the big things,” explained Elsberry R-II School District Superintendent Tim Reller, Ed.D. “Our contractors have all been working overtime to ensure that we’re ready for the start of school.”
According to Dr. Reller, the Elsberry teachers have also been hitting the ground hard, as they are working day and evening to prepare their classrooms and curriculum.
“As we’ve moved furniture back in, we’ve let them come in during the evenings to get their classrooms ready, as well as participating in several professional development courses,” said Dr. Reller. “They have been learning and exploring new thoughts, ideas and strategies as they move forward into this year and next. We are hoping these courses will help to further our student achievement.”
Last year the big thing for the Elsberry School District was “The Seven Habits,” which quickly became the golden tool for many youths and teachers. According to Dr. Reller, anytime something new is implemented the key becomes the follow through.
“We’re looking to continue following up with the Seven Habits,” said Dr. Reller. “We feel that it has been a big benefit to our students. Our Kindergarten through sixth grade teachers also participated in a primary math training, where they learned some additional strategies that should help them in their classrooms helping kids get a deeper understanding of mathematics and developing a true number sense as they go through the math program.”
Dr. Reller went on to explain how the district feels as though the math area is in need of more attention and that the additional training the teachers have received will help with student achievement.
“The other thing we are looking to do is becoming a professional learning community,” explained Dr. Reller. “That’s just a way in how we work together as professionals and how we collaborate and work with one another by implementing strategies to help us as we all continue to grow as professionals.”
Just like the students, the teachers and administrators also need to learn and continue to get better as professionals. The key to that, according to Dr. Reller, is working together and to do what’s right for the students. However, it can’t just be on the shoulders of the teachers. It is also a matter of what students are willing to do to ensure a more successful school year.
“I would tell any parent, just like I tell my own kids, I think the biggest thing that any student can do over the summer is to read,” said Dr. Reller. “Reading is such a critical skill and the more one does it, the better they become at it. To me, that’s the biggest thing parents can do to help their kids. Whether it be reading to their kids or having their children read to them is just so critical for kids to do, as it pertains to all courses and subjects in school and life.”
The Elsberry School District participates in the “Book It,” program, sponsored by Pizza Hut, in an effort to motivate students to read more. According to Dr. Reller, if a students reads so much in a month, they can receive a free personal pan pizza.
“Besides that, we do encourage our students to read in the classroom all the time,” said Dr. Reller.
In addition to the several changes and new ideas being implemented within the district, Dr. Reller stated they will continue to focus on purposeful instruction to help maintain the district attendance record by working with families and students on personalized strategies. Part of this will be assisted by the hiring of several new teachers, who according to him, are all coming in with new and fresh ideas.
“Change is part of education,” said Dr. Reller. “You have turn over every year, you’ve got people that retire or move on to other positions and that’s just part of it. But change is good. It allows for new ideas and melding what we currently do with what people may bring in and things they’ve experienced at other schools. It helps to keep us fresh and really it helps us as a learning community, because we can learn from their experiences as educators.”
In a final note, Dr. Reller wanted to also eliminate any rumors that may have formed, regarding the start of school. Although there have been a lot of unknowns surrounding the completion of the districts summer construction projects, there has been no concern of whether or not the school will start on time.
“These guys have been working hard to get the new HVAC system installed, as well as the lighting and ceiling tiles,” explained Dr. Reller. “If anyone had seen what the building looked like just a few weeks ago compared to what it does now, they never would have guessed the amount of work that has been done would have been done. I have no concerns about whether we will start on time. We still have a little time left and I believe it will be more than enough to complete the big things left.”
Although, there is still a lot of minor things left to complete, some of which may result in working around school hours and away from kids, Dr. Reller said there should be no issues in keeping with the schools start date of Monday, Aug. 19.
For more information or for questions contact Dr. Reller at 573-898-5554 ext. 211
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