Amanda Cavaness, Principal, Jerry Hamm Early Childhood Learning Center
The Dr. Jerry Hamm Early Learning Center in Coffeyville, KS isn’t “just” child care. It is comprehensive, universal preschool for Coffeyville and the surrounding communities. The ELC currently has 3 classrooms for infants/toddlers ages 0-3. There are 9 classrooms for students ages 3-5. A total of 214 students are served daily at the Early Learning Center. Each child and family is greeted once they enter the facility by office staff, administration, support staff, and classroom staff. Throughout the day students are taught, often through play, social emotional intelligence and skills, academics, motor skills, communication and language acquisition, and problem solving.
The ELC has been active with its partnerships, which include USD 445 Coffeyville Public Schools, Tri-County Special Education, SEK-CAP Head Start, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, Four County Mental Health, and Coffeyville Community College. Breaking down stigmas has been a focus throughout the tenure of the Early Learning Center. It has been through the great efforts of all its partners that barriers have been broken and positive stories have surfaced.
Jeff Pegues, Principal, Roosevelt Middle School
At Roosevelt Middle School, our redesign areas are focused around three areas: Academic / Cognitive, Social/Emotional, and Employability / Technical. Last spring we piloted introducing academic mentoring and employability/technical skills through an advisory-based model that met twice a week. The primary focus of our pilot was implementing Trauma Informed practices as part of our Social/Emotional goal. After extensive professional development was provided with our staff, we trained all students on how the brain process stress and mindfulness/regulation techniques. Furthermore, we created our own model for students to measure their regulation. We created a regulation room for our students when they were feeling overwhelmed. Our staff implemented brain breaks and regular checks for regulation in each of their classrooms. Student of Concern meetings were held bi-weekly and were very effective and building empathy throughout our staff. All staff filled out an at-risk screener that allowed students to be tiered. Based on this data, individual, relationship-based interventions were put in place. At the end of the semester, we saw a 37% decrease in behavior referrals as a result of these strategies. This year, we have launched all three of our goal areas. Our advisory model meets daily and includes: academic mentoring, teaching of social emotional skills, teaching of fundamental life skills, and teaching of employability/technical skills. Seventh grade students are learning employability skills and will complete a mock interview process. Eighth graders will focus on career exploration and complete a 2 hour job shadowing experience in the community in one of their 3 target career areas.
Travis Stalford, Principal, Field Kindley High School
Field Kindley High School was honored to be chosen as one of the Mercury schools in the Kansans Can School Redesign Project. Only seven schools in Kansas were chosen as a Mercury school. In this role, Field Kindley High School will be an example of innovation for other schools to observe. To prepare for the redesign process, FKHS built a team that consisted of administrators, counselors, and three teachers, which met bi-weekly throughout the entire school year. This team was able to bring new ideas to the table and work towards goals established for the future of FKHS.
In order for the redesign process to be successful, the committee was encouraged to “shoot for the moon” and think outside of the box when establishing goals for their students. They determined the three most important goals were academic/cognitive, employability/technical skills, and social emotional/health. Once the goals were established, the redesign team felt that opening up the opportunity for other teachers to participate in the process would increase the likelihood of success. As a result, at least 50% of the staff was directly involved in the redesign plans for FKHS.
Due to the hard work from both the staff and administration, Field Kindley High School is already implementing some of the redesign elements that will help with each of the chosen goal areas. For the academic/cognitive goal, the school will be implementing personalized testing that will help for each student’s Individualized Plan of Study. For example, if a student is planning on going to college, they will take the ACT; if a student is interested in pursuing a military career, they will take the ASVAB. Another change the school implemented this year is a change in the school schedule; the school day now goes from 8:10 am - 3:10 pm. This was in an effort to build in more teacher collaboration time to make sure that students can be as successful as possible within their classrooms. The schedule change also included a mandatory advisory time for students every single day. This time allows for students to travel to teachers’ classrooms that they might be struggling in in an effort to close the gap on low grades.
As for the redesign goal of employability/technical skills, Field Kindley High School will be implementing a secondary grade card over soft skills. There is a need to make sure that students develop soft skills that are demanded once they are done with high school. These skills include collaboration, respect, initiative, and successful work habits. Students will be graded on these soft skills as the school year goes on, with a hope of seeing improvement in these specific areas when the year concludes.
The last area goal area set for FKHS is for social emotional/health. FKHS wants to promote the social emotional health of students, faculty, and staff. In order to work towards this goal, the school is working towards becoming a trauma-informed school. Teachers are in the process of learning just how trauma affects students and are becoming trauma responsive to make sure students can be as successful as possible. In order for this to work, the school has a created a “cool down room” and the entire faculty has monthly Student of Concern meetings. Along with this goal, the staff is committed to making sure that every student is involved in some sort of extracurricular activity or club.
Although it is just the beginning of Field Kindley High School’s redesign launch, they are very hopeful to see positive results. It’s a great honor to be chosen as one of seven schools in the state to lead this project and they are taking the responsibility very seriously. The redesign process definitely stretched the staff and administration, but the only thing that matters at the end of the day is the ultimate goal of Field Kindley’s redesign: guaranteeing that every student is “storming a golden path to post-secondary success.”
Jennifer Bright, Principal, Community Elementary School
In quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” This quote exemplifies the journey that Community Elementary School (CES) has been on over the past 13 months. When we were named as a redesign school, we immediately created a team of staff members to begin determining our why and creating a path to bring about educational changes for the 1,000 Kindergarten-6th grade students at CES. It was imperative that we incorporated goals and activities that not only aligned to our district’s strategic plan, but also to Kansans Can and bedrock principles of the redesign. In order to make our vision a reality, we created three goal areas to include: academics, social/emotional, and health & wellness of students and staff. Taking the mentality that it takes a village, we created multiple committees and sub-committees to make sure teacher voice and buy-in was present in every stage of the redesign.
Our district has invested funds to ensure that we have staff trained to implement Orton-Gillingham to address our Tier 3 student needs as well the etymology/word origin component for our Tier 1 students. This year, we plan to implement a monetary reward system to address the chronic absenteeism and tardies which impact many of our students. Each morning, students will be given a Twister Buck if they are in their classrooms ready to learn when the bell rings. At the end of each quarter, students will be able to spend their Twister Bucks on prizes and items at the School Mercantile. We are hoping that this effort will decrease absenteeism, thereby increasing individual academic achievement.
We are addressing many components that revolve around instilling the belief of self-worth, kindness, and citizenship. One of the components of S/E that we will undertake is moving to trauma informed classrooms. Our district has been providing professional development in this area for two years, and now we are moving from an informational stage to an implementation stage. We currently have 19 classrooms that are piloting Second Step Curriculum, Zones of Regulation, and have Chill Zones in each room with the goal to have every classroom as a trauma informed classroom by January. As a whole, we are working diligently to provide opportunities for students and staff to identify, express, and validate their feelings in order to adequately address concerns and issues when they arise. As we continue to learn more about the effects of trauma on the brain and learning, we know that traditional programming isn’t enough for some of our students and that intervention is necessary. Experts leading the charge on the life-long effects of trauma tell us that children do not outgrow trauma, they grow into it. Therefore, we have started Student of Concern (SOC) meetings in an effort to make sure that students dealing with trauma have strong networks of support through daily check and connect opportunities as well as an individual action plan designed to help students impacted by trauma.
A second component of S/E is the continuation of Twister Families. We began Twister Families in March of 2018 and found that it became a highlight of the week for students and staff. The purpose of Twister Families is to allow more social and emotional growth for our students, as well as more connection between staff and students. Each Family group contains eight to twelve students ages Kindergarten through Sixth grade and one staff member. The students will stay with the same staff member through their entire journey at CES. Each Twister Family meeting will include goal setting, team building, communication, social skill development, and an opportunity to create a strong network of support.
Another component of S/E is to implement four service learning projects a year at every grade level that builds on the social studies standards. A service learning project is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection. Each project will enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communication. Since sharing our service learning plans with our community, the response for community involvement has increased. It is our hope that more and more community organizations and businesses will want to come into the schools and invite our students to their locations.
A fourth component of S/E is Twister Pathways which is scheduled to begin in January. The Pathways are project-based activities designed as a means for students to explore all employable pathways in domains of the Career and Tech Ed path as determined by KSDE. There are eight interest domain areas to choose from which will allow each teacher to choose their own pathway of interest and choose a project that best fits their passions. Students will have the opportunity to sign up for a project of their choice within their grade clusters. At the end of each quarter, students will have an opportunity to showcase their projects to an audience of stakeholders (students, staff, parents, community partners).
Health and Wellness
We recognize a need, now more than ever, that we must focus on the health and wellness of our students and staff. Opportunities for wellness challenges, recognizing and celebrating milestones and events, and encouraging healthy lifestyles are all on the radar for our Wellness Committee to implement this school year.
Our launch of the redesign has increased our awareness of the role each and every staff member plays in being a trailblazer in education for our students. Efforts to communicate our redesign plans to stakeholders have increased the opportunities for partnerships that we didn’t know were possible and created a climate of unity and well-balanced education for all students from every walk of life. We are more focused on each and every student (both academically and emotionally). For far too many years, schools have been about academics. In this day and age, we recognize that we have to be about the whole child’s welfare and the redesign gives us the grace to do so. This has not been an easy journey, but it has definitely been one of the most rewarding.