Safe, Special, and High Levels of Learning for All
By Mark Howard
As we move into the new school year, I’d like to share the guiding principles that we strive to achieve at Lake Superior Elementary. They include the following:
The Lake Superior Elementary Mission
The Lake Superior School community will ensure high levels of lifelong learning for all – students, staff, and families.
Our Motto: All members of our school community need to feel safe, special, and prepared to learn at high levels.
Providing a Safe Learning Environment
The recent work on our parking lot has improved the safety for our students and families. We were able to construct a parking lot that separates our bus traffic from our student drop off and/or pick up area.
The separation of a bus and parent lots has created a morning arrival and evening departure system that has reduced stress and increased safety. Additionally, the parking lot enhancements have given our school community a sense of pride as many conversations between parents and staff have noted the improvements and our proud of the work and our school.
Our new parking lot has directly impacted how we feel about our school, which will indirectly increases learning and the building of a stronger school community. The students, staff, at Lake Superior are thankful for the community support in moving the passing of our our district’s referendum forward.
How We Recognize Each Child as Being Special
Lake Superior Elementary (LSE) believes all students need to be recognized and acknowledged for the attributes that make each child special. We believe all students, staff, and families have a trait or skill that makes them special.
It is one of our roles to bring that special attribute to the surface creating synergy and allowing all to contribute to the learning community.
LSE has many programs/systems to better support students at an individual level. We have a “Check In Check Out” (CICO) program where approximately 20 of our students meet (check in) with the same staff member on a daily basis each morning. This allows students to be better prepared (socially and emotionally) as they start the day making sure the student feels safe, and special – then they are ready to learn at high levels.
Another noteworthy program that gives our students personalized support is our Mentor Program. The LSE school community has approximately 20 adults from the Twin Ports community that come each week for about 45 minutes to meet (same student, same day, same time each week).
This support differs as each child has a different need, skill, or interest. Our mentors work at building a positive bond and connection with our students which indirectly supports learning. The activities that our Mentors expose our students to range from academics, to hobbies (i.e., Sewing, Crafts, Photography….), and evolves over time as the Mentor/Mentee build a relationship.
Two of our mentors that come each week are a husband and wife “mentor team” from Duluth that have had a positive impact on our students and school for 9 years.
Providing High Levels of Learning for All
During the this past summer, all instructional staff has had training in a model that has increased student and teacher learning at high levels throughout our nation. This model is called “Professional Learning Communities” or PLCs.
The foundation of the PLC is to identify the learning standards that all students must learn in order to advance and learn at the next level. Our teachers are writing assessments that measure the student’s progress toward attainment of those standards that all learners are expected to master. Our teachers use the data from the assessments to pinpoint the instructional strategies that best increase the student’s ability to learn.
As a result of our PLC implementation, all teachers have a common time to meet in grade level teams to work on this work for each unit in each subject area.
The four questions that serve as a guide for this collaboration are:
- What standards will we ensure that all students learn?
- What does that learning look like?
- What will we do when students meet that standard/learning (challenge/enrichment)?
- What will we do to support the learning when the students do not meet that standard/learning (intervention/additional support)?
If you are interested in more information about Professional Learning Communities and/or our progress toward becoming a true PLC, please follow this link, or contact our school staff about the implementation and learning as we work together – students, staff, and family.
*NOTE: The new hallway/classroom tile and carpet replacement was not a part of the 2016 referendum, but rather a result of cyclical maintenance.