Allemands Elementary able to improve scores because of parent, teacher support

October 04, 2007 at 7:20 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Shh!  Quiet in the hallways.....Allemand’s students are excited about the day’s learning and planned fun activities ahead.
Photo by Shonna Riggs
Shh! Quiet in the hallways.....Allemand’s students are excited about the day’s learning and planned fun activities ahead.
Allemands Elementary, nestled in a quiet corner of St. Charles Parish in Des Allemands, received an exemplary rating from the Louisiana Department of Education for the 2006 to 2007 school year.

Marsha Walters, principal of the school, reports a 95.2 percent growth improvement at the school overall, compared to last year's score of 91.9 percent.

Parental involvement is a key component of the student's success rate at the school.

"Last year, 88 percent of all of our parents attended at least one school function for their child," Walters said. "We keep track of the numbers and our goal for this year is to increase the kinds of activities parents are coming to school for.

"I believe that future achievement for all children begins in the primary grades, , once that foundation is laid and it’s strong, children can and will be successful,"

Walters says her goal is to continue to improve reading and math scores throughout every grade level by using that parental support.

“My goal is to have parents participating in more academic based activities," she said.

Walters says that sticking to her objectives, and making reading and math a priority for the teachers, has made a difference.

"Every teacher must teach reading first," she said. "The first 90 minutes of each school day the children have uninterrupted reading instruction."

Walters said every class has two reading instructors during the reading session and the kids are broken up into smaller groups during each session.

"The smaller groups help to put a focus on skills the students are weak in," she said. "And the teachers are better able to address the challenges and successes of each individual child."

But, Walters was concerned with the idea that once kids left school and went home over the summer they wouldn’t be reading.

"I asked myself what can we do to put books in the children's hands over the summer to keep them reading,” Walters said. "We don't have a library and going to Luling, which is 10 miles, is difficult for some families.”

Walters called on the school's business partner Otto Candies.

"This year, at the end of school, Otto Candies purchased four books for every child in the school to take home and read over the summer."

That means over 1,160 books were issued to the 290 children to take home and read.

"Otto Candies is a great business partner for us, anytime we call on them to support our literacy program they've always worked with us," Walters said. "Students that are required to participate in the literacy program and read 11 additional books over the summer.”

Otto Candies purchased those books too.

Another program that's helpful for the students is called the Read-by-Mail Program.

"The additional books were sent to the children by mail and after they completed reading, they filled out a question sheet and it was sent to the literacy teacher,” Walters said. “She then mailed them a new book."

Walters says she just started the program this summer but hopes to see results by next year.

Last year's reading recovery students at the school exceeded the district's expectations by an increase in the number of students that successfully completed the program.

"All first graders must have a reading level of at least 16 by the end of the first grade," she said. "Our reading recovery students surpassed that by completing the program with a level 21."

Librarian Mary Curole's "A Book A Day Program," is used to reinforce reading at school daily. At the beginning of the week all students are required to pick out one book.

"The students are required to read three fiction books and two non-fiction books by the end of the week," Walters said.

On an average, each child checked out 133 books, which means there are a total of 37,000 in circulation.

To help students struggling in math, teachers are getting creative in the classroom and incorporating music as part of the teaching method.

"I use math and include some rap music to help the kids learn basic math facts," Rosanne Jarvell, a math resource teacher said. "For future math courses, children must fully grasp basic math facts.”

Next week, the school will host two parent sessions where parents will have the opportunity to be trained on how to teach their children math facts.

The sessions will be held Oct. 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. with an evening session for working parents from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

"Our goal is to train the parents to help the children to learn their math facts at home, in addition to the help they are receiving at school,” Walters said.

Walters also says that music and movement is a big part of math instruction and also a good form of exercise for the kids.

Physical fitness is encouraged at the school and students' meals are monitored to ensure they're eating a well-balanced diet.

"Over the years, I've noticed that the children are getting bigger in terms of weight," James Herbert, a physical education instructor at the school, said. "The amount of exercise the students receive at school isn't enough.”

Herbert said children should be encouraged to participate in some type of sports activity along with their families to ensure they are getting the proper amount of exercise.

Another big reason for the school’s success is the family center.

When Gracie Dufrene found out that children in day care centers were writing their names in all capital letters, she visited local centers that instructed day care providers how to teach the children the proper way to write their names.

"Gracie and I noticed some of our younger (pre-k through kindergarten) students printing in all capital letters, it was her idea to visit the individual day care centers in the community and talk to providers about teaching children to write correctly using upper and lower case letters," Walters said.

Walters plans to keep the school's focus on a consistent path.

"We need to ensure successful learning for all of our students," she said. "We have high expectations for them and we are truly blessed with a great school, faculty and students."

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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