Script for Video- Overview of Grenada Elementary School
DAWN WALLS (GES Assistant Principal): Every single day when I walk in the building, one of the main focuses we have here is to smile at our students, greet them, and to look them in the eye every day and tell them how glad we are to have them here. When they come in, we want it to be welcoming and inviting and fun, and at the same time know that our focus is our instruction, our learning, and the student. So I think being welcoming to our students and letting them know that we support them, that we love them, and this is the safest place they can possibly be is probably the biggest goal that we have in the school every day.
RALEIGH WOOD (GES Principal): Well, this is where they get started, and we want to try to give them the best foundation that we can. We want to be the best and that's our goal. And what can we do to strengthen these students every day, we do that. We're very excited about our Pre-K program. We started last year, and we have topnotch teachers. And they're all certified teachers, and they're all very good.
WALLS: Everything is set up in a way to really accommodate a four-year-old and the developmental nature of a four-year-old. There's a lot of movement. There's so many activities. There's music. We went in one day and there were students in the floor working with syllables, clapping out how many syllables are in a word. And you know at one time that was a first-grade skill. So to see that going on in a four-year-old classroom has been phenomenal.
WOOD: This year we added a fourth class, which will be three-year-olds. I called around, I don't know that anybody else has a three-year-old class, but we do.
WALLS: One of the things that our parents and students love about the set-up of Grenada Elementary School is that we provide various opportunities, depending on the needs of the students.
POLLY OAKES (K-1st Grade Multi-Age Teacher): I teach a true multi-age class, which means I have half-kindergarten, half first-grade. Our younger kids, I think, because they're doing it with the older kids, they pick up so fast, and they love to try to beat the older kids at different activities. Because I really believe that if we challenge our children in a positive way so that they don't' feel threatened then they'll be eager to try new things and learn new things, and right now they just absorb everything so fast.
PHYLLIS CHISM (K-1st Grade Looping Teacher): I teach what we call K-1 looping. The first year I have the kindergartners, and I keep those kindergarteners the same year for first grade. And now, you know, my kindergarteners are going to first grade, their moms, their parents, are coming to me saying, "They love reading. They want to read everything. We're riding down the street, they say, 'Wait, wait, let me read," you know. They're trying to read the signs, they're trying to read books to them.
RICKI HARDIN (2nd/3rd Grade Looping Teacher): To hear a kid want to read because they have been exposed that reading can be fun, that's what makes my job the best job. Hearing the sounds from my kids saying they love to read, that...that's it. That's our goal here.
WALLS: Some of the things that I see that I'm really impressed with our teachers is not only small group instruction but we also have such a use of technology in the classrooms.
DENISE ROBERTS (GES Math Teacher, iReady Coordinator): Our technology is expanding constantly. For kindergarten and first grade we have two computer labs, one of which is touchscreen computers for the kindergarteners. In second and third grade we have expanded to two computer labs, each of which have 60 computers.
OAKES: We do the i-Ready program, which moves the children at their own speed, so a lot of the kindergarteners are up doing first-grade activities on i-Ready just because they're ready for it.
ROBERTS: We've been using i-Ready district-wide, kindergarten through eighth grade for three years, and the number of students that have progressed through more than one grade level in a single school year is just phenomenal. PAM KEYS (2nd/3rd Grade Looping Teacher): In my classroom I love to use music, so I try to use my love and knowledge of music in education as well. The kids do love it. They love to sing, they love to dance, they love to get up and move.
MEG WOOD (K-1st Grade Music Teacher): There are scientific studies that prove that listening to music, it helps the brain to develop, it helps the brain to think and so there is a huge connection between music and success for students. Every student is involved in the kindergarten play. Every student is involved in the first grade play. But I think it's very important that they get to do that at some point as children to kind of bring out in them the excitement and the joy of performing. AMY KILLEBREW (2nd – 3rd Grade Music Teacher): With them being so young, to give them a love for music now will exist for the rest of their life, and so what we teach them now, the fundamentals, it just gives them that foundation so that they can move forward and be able to perform in band and different choral ensembles that we have through the middle and high school.
HARDIN: What I love about our school is the Kidzeum. We like to take them to go in there to cook, whether it's learning more about fractions, or we'll go into the Piggly Wiggly in the Kidzeum and we find all the items that have a long "A" sound.
BETH MUSELWHITE (Kidzeum Director): The Kidzeum is the first school-based children's museum and it is an award-winning facility in the state of Mississippi as well as across the United States. You can see boys and girls as they just figure something out by using their hands, you can see their eyes light up and their minds turning on, so to speak, because they get excited about something and they're actually doing it, and they're learning while they're having fun.
CHISM: To me, the difference is engaging the children. So if you walk in our classroom, you'll see children moving. You'll see them talking, you'll see them standing up. If the children are moving, they're learning. We encourage them to become problem solvers, you know. They have to come up with conclusions.
OAKES: System-wide Dr. Daigneault and our administrators are trying all sorts of new things to better prepare the children for the real world and for college, and we start it down here, talking about what are you gonna do when you grow up. They're having a goal, and they're setting that goal. One thing in our room that I promise our parents that we will treat these children as if they're our children. My children very seldom hear me say don't do. They'll hear me say what they need to do, and that way they're looking at school as something positive. It builds their self-esteem, it builds their self-confidence, and they're learning self-discipline. We're a big school, but once you get inside, it's like a bunch of little families together.
REGINALD HERRINGTON (GES Assistant Principal): I am always greeted with hugs and many times, jokingly, I'm always daddy number two. I love children of this age. Their hearts are so pure, and they just…they just love you.
WOOD: I get a lot of hugs. I get a lot of knuckles.
WALLS: I go into the Pre-K rooms, and I see what's going on in those classrooms, and then I am able to gradually work to the third grade classrooms and when I see how far our teachers and our school as a whole have taken our students, from four or five years old to ending third grade and ready to go on to the next school, the way students grow is amazing to watch. It's a joy not only for me but especially for the teachers.
CHISM: It's just teamwork. We're working together to, you know, help the children succeed, and that's…that's our goal here, you know, we want to educate and inspire them. Motivate them, and that's what we do, you know that's what I love to do—inspire and motivate, you know.
WOOD: Well, I think I'm very lucky to have this school here. I think it's the best school in the state. I enjoy it a lot. It's fun to come to work when you have a staff like this and kids like this, it's fun.