Tuesday, November 13, 2007
10 Reasons Why Your Child Should Attend Halecrest Elementary
1. It's Free - Basically, if you are sending your child to a local private school you are wasting about $5,000 to $10,000 a year on tuition. For the reasons listed below, the quality of education at this school is better than any private school within 25 miles of our area code. (Which is why my daughter now attends Halecrest!) Now, if you're going there for strictly religious reasons, for example, than you should stay put, because the last time I checked we still have to remain neutral on matters of personal religion.
2. Our Community is Rabid - Led by an energetic and ever-present PTA Board and their volunteer army, we have remarkable school activities and events and a true sense of a small community kinship around campus. Take, for example, our recently completed Fall Festival. We had 3 hours of booths and activities topped off by a fireworks display (OK< the fireworks display was a lucky coincidence since the neighboring high school was having its homecoming celebration, but you get my point).
3. At least 4 people will know your child by name - Obviously, your teacher will know your child's name, but I guarantee you that at least one of our noon duty will get to know you and at least two more people from the front office staff, school psychologist, or Principal will know your child by name. As the Principal I pride myself on knowing every child's name and with 500 kids I probably have about a 95% success rate.
4. Expectations are High - NCLB doesn't call the shots around here because we are well ahead of their targets, yet nobody is complacent. It's all about continuous improvement for every child and the entire school. When I walked on this campus over three years ago this was one of the first things I noticed. From the attitude of the front office and throughout the school, everyone expects excellence and achievement - and we get it.
5. Teachers are learners - Our teachers are constantly looking for any resource, strategy, or idea that will help them reach one more child. They collaborate formally and informally to improve their craft and they are eager to implement ideas from our staff development training.
6. Individualized, differentiated instruction is the expectation - I still can't say that we are differentiating as much as we need to, but we are working together to accomplish this. We have individual goals for every child on this campus in the area of reading improvement and will eventually develop the same plan for math instruction. Percentages and averages are not good enough. Every child needs to grow at least one year and if they are behind at the start of the year, they need to grow one year plus.
7. We have balance - We don't apologize for our academic focus, as many of us believe that this is the primary function of schools, however we do have all students enjoying art, PE, and Music/Drama on a weekly rotations. We also find time to do Ballet Folklorico for 5th grade (during school day) and 6th grade (before school). The teachers that run these programs are dynamic, engaging, and fully committed to Halecrest.
8. We recognize achievement and effort - Both are important to celebrate. We believe that students who achieve a certain standard of excellence should be rewarded, and we also believe that effort and improvement are just as valuable to praise.
9. People enjoy each other - Working at schools is a high stress job. You should just try and be responsible for 20-30 young people for 6.5 hours a day! Tensions could easily run high, and they sometimes do in the best environments. However, for the most part, the staff, students, and parents really like each other and get along. These positive relationships spread from adults to kids and there is a general feeling of safety and warmth, and dare I say, love at Halecrest.
10. Daily assessment is much more important than the end-of-the-year scorecard - We could talk a lot about our state and local results, which are stellar, but those numbers aren't nearly as important as the daily improvement of every child on formal and informal teacher classroom assessments. The purpose of all this assessment is that teachers constantly keep a pulse on students progress toward state standards. T he more precise we are at identifying student needs, the quicker we can turn those needs into strengths with just the right instruction.
So, what do you think? Did I miss some things that are important to parents? If you were looking for a school, what qualities would you be looking for in a school?