photo of superintendent Dr. David Daigneault

Superintendent's Message

A Bunch of Little Families


Recently, several administrators and I watched a new video about Grenada Elementary School, produced by our communications department. When the video ended, one viewer said what many of us were thinking. "That makes me want to go back to elementary school." It's probably not a thought you've had very often. But if you spend much time with the kids and staff at Grenada Elementary, you'll understand that impulse. The video reflects what we see at GES all the time. The administrators are positive and complimentary of their staff and students. The teachers are excited about the unique teaching methods they've employed to inspire the students.

And the kids, well … their pride, excitement, and glowing expressions say it all.

Several teachers and principals appear in the video to tell the story of Grenada Elementary. Their words reminded me that — through all the planning, number-crunching, and fine-tuning of our district's innovation planning — it's the teachers who are out there on the front lines every day, fulfilling that vision. They work instinctively to make these kids successful, and our district flourishes from their efforts.

GES has shown remarkable versatility in working with children according to their needs. Some kids thrive in traditional, single-age classroom settings, where they advance from one teacher to the next through multiple grades.

Other kids need a more familiar surrounding. Our looping teachers have the same students for successive years, which provides them a friendly, familiar face and establishes a routine that allows for faster progress. Finally, a multi-age classroom combines kindergarten and first-grade students. Teachers have witnessed both groups excel from interacting with each other. The older students mature faster as they take on the responsibility of helping teach the younger children, who are encouraged to excel like the older kids.

The district-wide expansion of technology can be seen at GES through the use of in-class computers and the popularity of the iReady program. This computer-based curriculum creates tailored lesson plans that challenge students at their individual skill level. That means slower students don't get lost, and more advanced students don't grow bored. The encouraging scores reflect a phenomenal level of growth in students who are capable of working beyond their grade level.

Last year we started to implement our Project Lead the Way emphasis into the kindergarten and first grade. Within the next couple of years, the program will be embedded in every class at GES, preparing students to excel in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) so that they can help meet the critical national demand for young people fluent in the modern sciences.

Some of GES's greatest strengths lie outside the traditional classroom. Meg Wood, the K-1 music teacher, cited studies that prove music helps the brain develop. Meanwhile, her popular plays and musicals, which involve every child in K-1, encourages creativity and self-confidence at at a critical point in these kids' development.

Likewise, the hands-on learning that happens at the Kidzeum, in the advanced LEAP classes, and throughout the school indicates a commitment to non-traditional learning. Phyllis Chism, a K-1 looping teacher and 2016 GSD Teacher of the Year, says the difference is motivating the children. "If you walk into our classroom, you'll see children moving," she says. "You'll see them talking, you'll see them standing up. If they're moving, they're learning."

Perhaps the most striking quality on display at Grenada Elementary isn't new or innovative at all. It's just inherently good and right.

It's the obvious love these teachers have for their students.

Our K-1 multi-age teacher, Polly Oakes, says it best: "I promise our parents that we will treat these children as if they're our children…. We're a big school, but once you get inside, it's like a bunch of little families together."

Take ten minutes and watch this Grenada Elementary School video for yourself. It can be found at our YouTube channel, "Grenada Schools Presents" — http://bit. ly/GSpresents