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SCES gets 2-year $342,900 grant for professional development

South Central Elementary School has been awarded a two-year $342,900 federal grant through Title 1 for professional development. In Indiana, 16 ‘Title I schools’ ‘ schools with high percentages of students from low-income families ‘ received a total $4.9 million to improve achievement.
During the first year, the grant will be used to hire a literacy coach who will receive a full-time teacher salary and focus on details in writing. In the second year, the focus will be expanded to include reading comprehension and then math.
The literacy coach will be involved in hiring and training substitute teachers who will be used one day each week to relieve classroom teachers so they can attend workshops conducted by the coach.
‘(The use of trained substitutes) improves our program because it provides more consistent instruction. The way we’ve done in the past was more disruptive,’ said Jill Timberlake, Title I coordinator at South Harrison Community School Corp.
Inside and outside of SCES, the literacy coach will work to ensure smooth transitions between grade levels.
The coach will meet with daycare providers to discuss kindergarten standards. Similar efforts will be made with seventh-grade teachers to prepare for the arrival of SCES sixth-grade students, said Eileen Willis, SCES Leadership Team member.
The literacy coach will also work with teachers through model and team teaching where the classroom teacher becomes a student. Performance assessment of all students will take place three times each year. The coach will work with teachers to analyze the assessments.
‘You are choosing your teaching points based on how that child performs. Data analysis drives the instructional modifications,’ said SCES Principal Jim Kendall.
Grades two through six will be offered ‘extended days’ two days each week. Those days will contain an additional two hours of instruction during which ‘we take the weakest of the children and work on academic standards in the area that they need help,’ Timberlake said.
The grant even includes a workshops-for-parents component.
With all the professional development going on, even the coach is expected to get into the act.
‘We expect the literacy coach to read research, shadow another literacy coach, and seek training to improve the literacy coach’s effectiveness,’ Kendall said.
Staff and administration at SCES said the school was successful in pursuing the grant because certain measures for improvement were already in place.
SCES has participated in a Targeted Assistance School program for the past five years. ‘We started looking at being all on the same focus so that we are analyzing data as a staff. That focus led us to the point that we felt like we were ready to apply for the grant,’ Kendall said.
The school also has monthly study groups. The teachers read from a book chosen to improve their skills; they discuss teaching points and guiding principals from that book. Currently, they are working with writing. Next they plan to address comprehension strategies.
‘In order to be eligible, we had to prove that this was not a planning grant,’ Timberlake said. ‘It was an implementation grant. The study group was something that we had at this school for the past three years. It ensures decisions we make about student achievement are data-driven and research-based.’
In addition to Kendall, Timberlake and Willis, leadership team members who drafted the grant proposal included: Crystal Conrad, Susan Eastridge, Susie Freiberger, Patty Huckaby, Jane Stewart and Cassie Withers.