Great news from Park, Sunset Ridge

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Park principal Monica Schommer and Sunset Ridge principal Todd Mann presented the continuous improvement process action plans and data regarding improvement for their respective schools at the Board of Education regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 16.

All of the grade levels at Park met their goal, the first time that has happened in Schommer's four years there. The school also surpassed its goal of closing a gender gap in math where boys scored lower and she was happy that that occurred by raising the bottom up, not lowering the top end.

Schommer said Park staff talked about goals every month last year and noticed it had a huge impact. She also felt it had a positive impact on culture and climate. Students and staff now receive paws for positive behavior and she said last year students received more than 1,500 positive referrals.

"Perseverance, resilience, grit are all words are students are becoming familiar with,'' she said.

Park installed a par wellness course this summer and it is used a lot by students and community members. She also said there has been a huge shift and that 90 percent of students celebrating a birthday decide to do an outdoor activity rather than bringing in cupcakes or another sweet treat.

"They don't miss the old way at all,'' Board member Sean Hyland said. "My children spend days before their birthday thinking about what they can do.''

Mann has said his staff has been focusing its professional development and assessment meetings on how to meet every child's needs. Staff talks how are initiatives launched and maintained.

Sunset Ridge had a Lions Pride after-school program from January to May. Due to busing changes, it would have required keeping students at school for 2 hours after school to do it this year. So instead began a Lions Pride summer camp and close to 60 students attended. Students below proficiency in writing and reading were invited and "it was a wonderful jump-start to the year.''

Sunset Ridge staff also also voluntarily implemented Tuesdays in the Neighborhood in the summer for struggling students. A book-mobile made a visit to the program as well.

Mann was thrilled that these programs have particularly benefited English Language Learners students, with many moving from lowest level into developing and proficient "has been a neat thing to see.''

He said one of the most popular programs last school year was a Spark Day to show students things they haven't seen before, such as making a garden, cooking or building a bench. He also raved about the Family Bilingual Night held last year.

"It was one of the most rewarding events of my educational career,'' Mann said.

Superintendent Don Johnson pointed out the data tonight is similar to what the other four elementary schools presented in October. He is thrilled that results are consistent and always going upward rather than high fluctuations. He also commended Schommer, pointing out there was a perception that Park was under-performing before she arrived.