School board approves renewal plans for two elementary schools, Southeast Middle

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2019

SALISBURY — Echoing countywide excitement about a new school year, new teachers, new classes and new friends, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education on Monday approved similarly novel modes of operation for three schools.

The plans — for Bostian and Rockwell elementary schools and Southeast Middle School — made use of Rowan’s status as a renewal school district, legislation allowing educators to use charter-like funding flexibilities to address the individual needs of their schools. They focused on service learning, core values, mentoring, attendance, math proficiency and more, and now represent three of 20 approved plans across the 34-school district.

Approved plans and their identified needs include:

Bostian Elementary School

According to Principal Lisa Sigmon, Bostian Elementary has entered renewal with a theme of service leadership.

The school began exploring a dedication to community involvement last year, Sigmon said, starting with teacher-led and teacher-dictated community service projects completed once annually by each grade level.

Under renewal, students in each grade will have a voice in the projects selected, and each grade will complete two: one per semester.

The projects, used in conjunction with a focus on core values or “rules to live by” and personalized, high-interest clubs, are meant to increase student participation in core classes and expose them to opportunities and career pathways never before experienced, said Bostian teacher Sherry Hubbard.

In doing so, the school is seeking to increase the number of students testing proficient in reading, science and math.

Rockwell Elementary School

The teacher-led design team at Rockwell Elementary worked with intensity to put students first, said Principal Jennifer Warden, identifying two main areas of need for students: a deep conceptual understanding of math and student engagement.

Third-grade teacher and design team member Anna Allman explained the school’s approach to increasing math understanding as cognitively guided instruction. These practices, she said, offer students the opportunity to explore the many different routes to a correct answer through small-group or self-directed experimentation.

Second-grade teacher and design team member Traci Jordan said the school would address engagement and resulting absenteeism through a focus on relationship building, increased staff training, engaging lessons and problem-based learning.

Problem-based learning provides students examples of real-world problems and tasks them with brainstorming solutions.

Southeast Middle School

At Southeast Middle, Principal Jennifer Lentz said renewal plans had been shaped through surveys, conversations and data, all of which came together to determine the overarching needs: mastery of fundamental standards, self-discovery and interpersonal skills.

To assist in standard mastery, the school will be implementing “PIE Time,” she said: Patriot Intervention and Enrichment. The routinely scheduled sessions would provide students with enrichment activities as well as intervention opportunities for those receiving a D or lower in math or literacy courses.

These interventions would be delivered by trained volunteers, Lentz said.

“My teachers keep coming to me saying, ‘We’re not elementary teachers. We don’t know how to reteach these concepts our students should already know by the time they get here,'” she said.

The school will also help its students explore individual life goals through curriculum flexibilities, offering varying coursework and more guest speakers to help “bridge the classroom to the real world,” said teacher Ashley File.

The school also will offer mentoring to its learners most at risk, said teacher Phillip Adams.