FFA members (from right) Amelia Hartman, Erica Kathman, Nicole Cooper, Health Doll and Chloe Webb told trustees about some of the group’s activities.

ST. LEON – Sunman-Dearborn Community School Corp. principals presented information about their school improvement plans Nov. 14.

The three elementary schools had some goals centered around increasing the number of students who pass math and/or English/language arts on the ILEARN (Indiana Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network).

“Our goals align with the strategic plan,” reported Bright Elementary School principal Kelly Roth.

North Dearborn Elementary School principal Jeff Bond noted, “We need to increase the rigor in the classroom to match the ILEARN assessment.” He also wanted to address attendance. “Our overall attendance rate is not bad, 95-96%, but there is a group of kids who are tardy or absent a lot .... We want to give them a reason to come to school,” to help with the social or emotional part of learning.

Sunman Elementary School principal Pamela Guilliams said, “One of our focuses is writing across the curriculum. We’re looking at how we can incorporate writing in math, science and other subjects.

Trustee Gary Gellert asked, “At the end of the year, the kids take ILEARN (to assess what they learned), but what do you have during the year to see if kids are getting it?”

Guilliams revealed, “We have common assessments every quarter .... We are constantly looking at data and adjusting accordingly.”

Roth added, “We have solid assessment measures.”

“We’ve changed our formative assessments a few times,” said superintendent Dr. Andrew Jackson. “We think we are where we need to be. The problem is we don’t know what correlates with ILEARN, but everybody’s struggling with that.”

At the middle school, there is a focus on math and language arts. “We’re doing a lot of short quizzes more regularly ... and taking that data (on how students do) to drive the next day’s instruction,” announced principal Dr. Matt Maple. “We’re working on the rigor of questioning ... (and) know we need to ramp up writing. We hope our efforts pay off at the end.”

Learning the meaning of the word respect and putting it into action “has been an ongoing thing for us. We feel like about 75% of students have grasped that. We have community service days and other things to learn about respect.”

In addition to improving math and English test scores, East Central High School is also working on the graduation rate. Principal Tom Black noted, “Our goal has been 98% and we have been falling just shy of that .... Our hope is through Graduation Pathways (which allow students to select from multiple ways to graduate that align with their strengths and interests while furthering their career goals and skills) we can get that 98%.”

He said the school will work on visibility and communication and find ways to get the message out about what great things are going on at ECHS. “I don’t think we share that message well enough .... We’ve been using social media platforms and sending out monthly newsletters.”

“We will also focus on social and emotional learning, teaching kids coping skills and resilience .... All of our counselors have attended conferences” on this topic.

To highlight some student accomplishments, ECHS FFA members informed trustees about the group’s activities and how the organization has helped them improve their leadership skills.

“I came in as a shy freshman and am now FFA president,” noted Amelia Hartman. Being in FFA “gives members an opportunity to do some public speaking.”

Treasurer Erica Kathman said she was also a “quiet freshman” and wanted to get involved in agricultural experiences. “We participate in CDEs (career development events) and compete with other chapters and districts.”

Historian Nicole Cooper has “learned a lot of different things” since joining FFA. One of the highlights “is the FFA/FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) hay ride, which is usually held at the FFA president’s house. We have fun and eat food.”

“I’ve met a lot of my friends through FFA,” reported Sentinel Heath Doll. “We just had our fruit sale, which is our major fundraiser .... (proceeds) are used to hold events and participate in our competitions. We attend an annual conference and there are tens of thousands of FFA members there.”

Community service representative Chloe Webb revealed, “My favorite thing is learning the different skills that will help me in college and in my career.”

McCord Snider, SDMS FFA adviser, said, “We like to push students to get out of their comfort zones .... We have about 30 members at the middle school, but I will see a lot more sixth-graders next semester,” so that number will probably grow.

Roy Johnson, ECHS FFA adviser, announced there are about 92 high school members. “We provide an excellent and affordable club for kids, and we do a lot of cool things .... We’re increasing awareness of agricultural opportunities under the umbrella of teaching leadership skills.”

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, ext. 220114.

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