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The Week-Ender

In addition to all of the communication and information shared regularly, we want to take some time each week to share more about our students, staff and programs throughout the district that share the mission of making each student future-ready. We are calling this series “The Week-Ender", and we hope you enjoy more insight into some of the great things going on in the Mead School District!
There are so many good things happening in our elementary schools, one of which is how our teachers utilize benchmark assessments three times each year to develop specific intervention plans to provide targeted support for students when needed. Our story about a group of first graders at Colbert Elementary can help illustrate the need and success that these assessments have on student growth. And when we say “success”, we are referring to both academic skill development and self-esteem, confidence and pride in their growth. 
 
From a technical standpoint -- here come the acronyms -- students in grades K-5 take a combination of MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) and DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills).  For students in Grades 1-5, MAP offers information about math and ELA (English Language Arts).  DIBELS is all about early literacy skills (K-2) and reading fluency (grades 1-5).  Assessments are used to help determine intervention needs as well as opportunities when students may benefit from further challenge.   Parents may recall hearing about these assessments during recent parent-teacher conferences. 
 
Each school has collaborative, grade-level data meetings where they use assessment results to develop specific intervention plans for our students. Plans align instructional resources and strategies with the learning needs of our students. From these plans, students' progress is monitored to ensure that learning and growth is happening.
 
But, you may be wondering, how does it actually work? 
 
For a group of three first graders at Colbert whose kindergarten year was cut short due to the pandemic, missing out on important phonemic awareness skills (ability to hear and manipulate sounds) put them at risk. Colbert LAP teacher Vivian Davis found, through benchmarking data, a below-grade-level score and an intervention schedule was developed. From there, this group set forth on a plan to learn all of their letter names and sounds, proceeded to learning to blend words, and then by the end of the year, were able to read. As Mrs. Davis tells it, “the biggest change was in their self-esteem. They go from not knowing their letter names and sounds to, in a year-and-a-half, seeing themselves as a reader.” 
 
By the next set of assessment data, teachers can see when skills have clicked, and as students learn and grow, the focus of the support also changes. It’s a pandemic-proof system that ensures equitable access to core content, reveals opportunities when students need to be challenged and identifies where some intervention support can help create future-ready students. 

The gratitude that everyone in our district has for our community can’t be overstated. It’s huge! The latest evidence is the support our schools receive from their own communities through fundraisers allows us to give our students and staff an incredible experience. While the support is felt far and wide among our buildings, here’s a quick peek inside the only fundraiser our three middle schools put on. It’s called the Fund Run and there’s even a friendly competition between them that brings out the best in everyone.


The fundraising portion concluded early this week and wrapped up this morning with a celebration, including an assembly, prizes and the student participation in the run itself. This year, Mountainside Middle School collected $38,715 in donations, while Highland brought in $36,265 and Northwood totaled donations of $36,077. These donations go toward creating many of the extracurricular opportunities for students like music, athletics and much more.


Check out some photos from the celebration and hear from each of the school principals below! 

 
Mountainside students at Fund Run

“Our annual Fund Run is one of the greatest culture-building things we do at Mountainside every year. Students are working together to achieve common goals, friendly competition is taking place, and school spirit is high. We could not be more thankful for the generosity of the Mountainside community in supporting our students and our school on this one and only fundraiser!” - Gregg Hare, Mountainside Middle School Principal

 
Northwood students at Fund Run Celebration

“The first annual 'Run for the Pack' was a HUGE success. Students, staff and families started an incredible tradition for our Highland Wolves. Thanks for the generosity everyone and your support for Highland! Highland is such a great place to learn and have fun with friends! Go Wolves!”  - Barb Pybus, Highland Middle School Principal


Highland Middle School students at Fund Run celebration

“Each year I am impressed and thankful for the support from the Northwood and Mead community. The Fund Run really matters to us and helps bring us together.  Students, staff, and parents continually step up to invest in our school. The support means so much to Northwood and allows us to give students opportunities they would not have had otherwise. Music, sports, clubs, and activities truly bring kids joy and allow them to use and showcase their talents.  Connecting, engaging, and giving kids opportunities has always been needed, but never more than now.” - Troy Hughes, Northwood Middle School Principal

First, let’s start with some numbers to wrap our arms around the amount of work put in by our Nutrition Services Department and others who support them…

 
Nutrition meals served graphic

That’s some amazing stuff! Our students were served no-cost, healthy breakfast and lunch meals more than 125,000 times in just September alone. Now that we know how big the job is to serve meals at buildings throughout the school district, let’s layer on the challenges that come with food supply during the pandemic. Our nutrition team is continuing to work through supply chain issues that have forced menus to change with short notice. We know how disappointing that can be for our young ones, especially when it’s the day that their favorite meal is scheduled to be served! But, proper planning and preparation has kept the changes to a minimum and food served twice a day, every day.


Nutrition Services also completed a full summer, serving meals for curbside pickup from a central location in the district. This service gave our families a reliable source of food each week with seven-day meal kits. The program ran from June 29 through August 26 and amounted to a total of just over 56,000 meals that included breakfast and lunch items! 

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You can find information about our nutrition program, monthly menus and more at our Nutrition Services home page here: https://mead.healtheliving.net/ 

We all know that, even during a pandemic, the learning must continue! To achieve our district’s overall mission of ensuring high levels of learning for all students, our staff must have a clear understanding of the priority standards in all content areas --  i.e. what we want all students to know and be able to do. The benefit of this collaborative work from our staff members is a consistent and connected delivery of curriculum throughout the district. The result for our families is students who are proficient and prepared for whatever is next, whether that is the next grade level, next class in a content area or the next step after graduation.


Our teachers and administrators meet throughout the district once per week before school starts to accomplish this work in their Professional Learning Community (PLC). It also includes a full-day session called a Learning Improvement Day (LID) on October 8. Many of you may be wondering why there is no school that day or may not be familiar with the term “Learning Improvement Day.” This is the first of three LIDs over the course of the school year, where our teaching staff will be taking a deeper dive into their Professional Learning Community to identify the priority learning standards, assess the district-wide delivery of curriculum and ensure the appropriate supports are in place both behaviorally and academically.

Design Studio header graphic

 

Real-world problem solving is happening! More than 100 students take part in this four-period block class at Mead High School that uses human-centered design to approach real problems and create real solutions. Using industry-standard tools like 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC machines combined with access to the Adobe Creative Suite and CAD/CAM software, students come up with their own solutions with research and collaboration.


This interdisciplinary flexible program is geared to meet students where they are and allow them to take chances, be challenged and learn from failure. It’s a multi-age classroom that is a community of learners who are stepping outside the traditional way of learning. They can earn credits toward English, History, Math, Physical Science and CTE-elective courses like Applied Physics, Physical Computing, User Centered Design, Technical Writing, and more. 


So, what’s the result? Students come out of this program ready for whatever challenges they may face because they’ve learned HOW to learn. They’ve gone on to attend college, join the military and start their own businesses. Later this year, we’ll take a deeper dive into the Design Studio classrooms, but for now, you can check out the program’s intro video here and an informational flyer here.