By Mentone Elementary Principal Randy Dahms
MENTONE — Walking into any workplace, it is satisfying to be a part of an organization that is moving forward. At Mentone Elementary, our staff has refined our practice and has recently made quite a few changes with one thought in mind, “Will these changes help the students we serve?”
Last year, our central office administration and the Tippecanoe Valley school board made the decision to expand our Kindergarten readiness program to two sections serving 40 of our three and four year old students. When you factor in our head start program and our little vikings program, Tippecanoe Valley has made efforts to provide high quality care to our future vikings at a time when high quality care is hard to find. Those program help to ensure that our incoming kindergarten students are ready to meet the demands of their future school experience. Walking in our readiness classrooms and seeing the excitement of our students and what they are learning is amusing and sometimes entertaining. I’ve enjoyed getting to know these students and their families. In a small community like Tippecanoe Valley, you are more than just a number.
In today’s school climate, it is important to be aware of how society is changing and to think carefully about what changes need to be made to ensure our students will be ready to meet the demands of an ever changing society. This year, the elementary schools at Tippecanoe Valley have undertaken Project Lead the Way. This program has offered an increased exposure to curriculum that challenges children to think at higher levels and to question and create. At Mentone Elementary, our staff is working on creating a robotics program that can serve a number of students. Our chess club is gaining momentum as Gene Hawkins volunteers his time to teach chess strategy to our students. Our students are now not only asked to give “the right answer” but are increasingly being asked to think critically. As kids work in small groups and with partners throughout the school day, it is great to see both the growth in student relationships and increased collaboration skills that our students have learned. At Mentone Elementary, our students are more than just a number.
Analyzing and quantifying data has become significant for all different types of organizations in a variety of work environments. Organizations that are thriving are able to quickly allocate resources to enhance their organization and to move forward. At Tippecanoe Valley, through our Professional Learning Communities work and data analysis (using iReady data), we are refining our practice in how to diagnose a student’s strengths and weaknesses and are adjusting classroom instruction to meet the needs of our students. In some cases, students receive small group instruction or even individualized instruction to meet their individual need. In all of our classrooms at Mentone, our students are more than just a number.
The phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” has been used quite a bit lately. I believe all good schools are successful because of a number of different factors. Effective schools have caring teachers and staff who build positive relationships with their students. At Mentone Elementary you feel community support and pride as our local police officers, the Akron/Mentone Kiwanis Club, and several local businesses proudly support our schools. One feels blessed to be part of a strong community whose care and concern for others is embodied in the culture of all of our schools. At Tippecanoe Valley, you are always more than just a number.