Beach Elementary School faces another year and challenges as teachers and staff report today for the first official workday of a week involving in-service days. School begins next Wednesday (Aug. 8).
Unofficially, Beach school personnel have been seen around the school grounds and at various in-service workshops around the state all summer long. Principal Larry Wood stated teachers volunteered to start coming in on a regular basis on July 17 to begin an improvement plan from last year's drop in grade level.
"Because our scores from the state were not as good as we had hoped, we wanted to jumpstart our school year," said Wood. "We looked at data and what we could do to help develop a program to help our kids on a more individual basis."
Some Beach Elementary teachers and staff took a moment from their voluntary time on school campus last Thursday for an impromptu photo. They are (from, l to r) Jackie DeMilia and Cathy Trent; (back row, l to r) Renee Mulloy, Kathy Brindise, Tina Cribbs, Linda Gassner and Principal Larry Wood.
"We are going to get better at addressing the individual needs of our kids. I'm confident we can do that."
Even with the fall from "B" grade to "C", Wood said he would put his staff up against any staff in the Lee County School District.
"I have the best staff," he said. "Our kids just didn't score so well."
District-wide, students' individual grades suffered through the new system's FCAT scoring (a change in cut scores) and thus the domino effect affected the schools overall. The scores made it more difficult for students to pass, thus the school grade was lowered .
"In our small school, two or three kids can make the difference between an "A" and a "C", said Wood.
Last year, Beach Elementary brought in retired teachers for before- and after-school sessions. This year, specific data will be applied for a more one-on-one teacher-per-student ratio approach to offset a program with too many students.
"We are going to do the same things and also use data to determine the specific needs of the individual students to tailor the extra help to meet those individual needs for the after-school program, for example," said Wood, who noted the 2011-12 after-school programs would sometimes have 16 children per class. "We are confident that it will have the effect that is necessary."
The District is preparing schools and students for what is known as common core standards for 2014-15. These are federal standards that 46 states have adopted.
"We are now in transition towards those new standards," Wood said.
Teachers Kathy Brindise and Tina Cribbs accompanied their principal to a state-funded four-day conference on common core standards in Fort Lauderdale. What they learned would be shared with the rest of the Beach school staff.
"We are in a huge transition in education," said Wood. "The goals keep changing, and our teachers are working really hard to keep up with those standards to provide the best education for our kids.
"In my opinion, our kids are getting a great education, regardless of the score. We have a great community that supports us, and now is the time we need them to support us as much or more as when we were an "A" school."
This year, the new textbook adoption focuses on a Reading and Math series. School officials will provide input as to which best aligns to the standards.
For all its schools, the District purchased Compass Learning, a computer-based program that aids in student assessment. The Beach school hopes to be able to use such a program by September with its "centers" classroom approach, which involves segmented subgroups of students with one subgroup involved in direct instruction by a teacher and other subgroups focused more independently.
Beach Elementary started the school year in 2011 with 126 students and reached a peak of 150. It is difficult to gauge how many students will enroll on a yearly basis due to the transiency of the Beach.
School hours have changed for District elementary schools this year. The Beach school will begin five minutes earlier on scheduled times: students are allowed in at 7:25 a.m.; school starts at 7:55 a.m.; and dismissal is at 2:10 p.m.
Parents are still offered a free breakfast on the first day of school (Aug. 8). An Aug. 10 pool party at the Town Pool is being planned as a free get-together for parents and students.
The Beach Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, which has some positions to fill, is still raising money for the school on an annual basis. In fact, there are seven large display cases with magnetic boards outside each class that were supplied by the PTO efforts.
"We're committed to provide an excellent educational opportunity and experience for all of our kids at Beach Elementary," said Wood. "Once again, we are counting on the community and family support to help us provide that for our kids."
Beach school opens house
Beach Elementary School will host an Open House on Saturday, Aug. 4, from 9 to 10 a.m.
All participating families, including parent and students, are welcome. This is a good chance to meet your teacher.
Classes will be posted on that day, yet changes in the class schedule may occur.
Beach Elementary welcomes recently hired Jennifer Wood, who will teach an added fourth grade class. Wood is familiar with the school since she taught there in the past.
Currently, the Beach school plans to have two fourth grade and fifth grade classes.
The final decision will be based on enrollment.
"She's a great teacher, and we are really happy to have her back," said Principal Wood.
Other new hires include Heather Lodovico, who will be the part-time Physical Education teacher this year, and Lauren Kingry, who will teach Music classes two days at the school and two days at Bonita Springs Elementary.
Beach school officials are looking for a part-time Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teacher to replace Jill Mooreland, who took a full-time job in North Fort Myers to be closer to family. Wood is in the process of hiring someone for the ESE position.
Michael Montano was also considered a new hire as a building custodian.
"One of the dilemmas for our small school is that we have jobs that are not full time," said the principal about losing teachers to schools that could hire them to full-time positions. "That's the consequences of the size of our school."
Wood did report part-time Art teacher Holly Nichols will be back again this year.
Staff continues to work in multiple roles. Jackie DeMilia, who works in technology support and acts as the school librarian, is teaching computer classes; Bookkeeper/Informational Specialist Linda Gassner takes care of attendance, runs the Accelerated Reader Program and RIF program; Administrative Assistant Renee Mulloy acts as the school receptionist, clerk typist, calendar organizer, unofficial "nurse" and is involved with "Spirit of the Holidays" and other school benefits; Building Supervisor Michael Cribbs, who appears to be at all functions, will continue to lend a hand whenever needed; and Food Service Manager Gayle MacPeek directs and produces the school plays.
Beach Elementary grounds are looking spruced up, thanks to the work of Michael Cribbs and Michael Montano. The two men used donated money to plant 50 plants and lay down 115 bags of mulch, according to Wood.
"They did it all by hand without equipment," he said. "And, that is in addition to what they normally do. Even the son (Drew) of our new teacher, Jennifer Wood, came in and helped them one day. That's typical of the Beach. Everybody pitches in and does what they have to do."
Backpacks & Chiropractic
By Dr. Nicole Bennett
Does your child carry a backpack to school? Do you know the proper way to wear a backpack? Did you know that improper use of backpacks might cause problems that could be detrimental to your child's health?
Heavy backpacks have a destructive impact on the posture and spinal health of children. These heavy loads can cause injuries that last a lifetime. Researchers have found that 55 percent of students carry more weight than recommended in national guidelines causing 60 percent of children to experience back or shoulder pain by the time they are 18 years old.
What does chiropractic have to do with all this? Improper use of backpacks causes undue stress on the spine. This stress causes subluxation of the spine. Subluxation occurs when the spinal bones, or vertebra, shift out of place. In between these bones are nerves that transport important messages from the brain to every organ, tissue and cell in our body. When subluxation occurs, these nerves become irritated and messages get jumbled up or are absent altogether. Therefore the body is not functioning at 100 percent and will not be able to heal itself on its own. Unfortunately, subluxation is "silent" in that symptoms may not appear until years or decades have passed, much like a cavity in a tooth. At which point, permanent damage may have occurred.
Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, can go undetected as well. It often begins in childhood as the body is still growing. If detected early by a doctor of chiropractic, adjustments and exercises can be utilized to correct or prevent it from worsening over time. Changes in posture, loss of structural balance and growing pains can be an early warning signal.
For that reason, periodic spinal check-ups, like dental check-ups, are necessary to keep your child healthy. Chiropractic is the only profession in the world specially trained in the detection and elimination of subluxation of the spine. Overloaded backpacks put unnecessary stress on a growing spine, ultimately leading to significant injury over time.
Here are some tips for proper backpack use:
n Choose an appropriate size corresponding to your child's body size
n The maximum weight of a loaded backpack should not exceed 15 percent of the child's body weight i.e.- a 60-pound child should only carry 9 pounds of backpack weight
n Teach your children proper lifting techniques, such as face the pack; bend at the knees; use both hands to lift; check the weight of the pack, adjust if necessary; lift with the legs and apply one shoulder strap at a time
n Use both shoulders straps, they should be snug but not too tight, also use the waist strap if available
If the backpack causes the child to lean forward, the pack is too heavy. Do not wear the pack over one shoulder. This may cause permanent misalignment of the spine, muscle fatigue and a lowered state of health.
Posture is the window to the spine. If posture is misaligned, the spine is also misaligned on the inside. To check your child's posture look at your child from the back, have him or her close their eyes. Check to see if the ears, shoulders, and hips are level. If one side is higher, there is a curve in the spine. This may cause pressure on the nerves, joints and discs. Next, observe your child from the side. The ears, shoulders, hips and knees should line up in a straight line. If not, there is stress on the spine. Then, check your child's posture while wearing the backpack. His or her posture should not change. If you see signs of posture imbalance or your child complains of pain, visit your Chiropractic Physician.
You or your family may be suffering from undetected spinal subluxation or scoliosis, so call your chiropractor for a periodic spinal check-up. Millions of families have discovered the health benefits of chiropractic, shouldn't you?
(ITALICS) Dr. Nicole Bennett practices chiropractic care as a physician and owner of Bennett Chiropractic and Wellness Center at 7130 Estero Blvd. For a complimentary consultation or if you have any questions, please call Dr. Nicole Bennett at 463-1640.