An eager crowd of community members boarded a school bus last week to visit Pinedale Elementary to learn how this small neighborhood school accomplished a mind-boggling turnaround over the past few years. Tucked away in the Lackawanna community just north of I-10 and Lenox Avenue, the once failing school catapulted from an F to an A in school year 2010-11 and has held to a steady B ever since.
How did this happen?
Principal Alicia Hinson and her team of 52 teachers adopted a "whatever it takes" attitude to motivate students to learn. It began with inspiring the faculty around a shared vision and strategy to connect with every single student, putting extra effort into those who were far behind. Teachers started a mentoring program to spend extra time with struggling students, really getting to know and understand their particular situations better. School Improvement Grant resources added more adults to classrooms increasing the amount of one-to-one and small group time teachers have with students. Classrooms were redesigned to create small work stations where students team together to tackle learning in more creative and applied ways. In a language arts classroom, one pair of students assembled magnetic letters to sharpen their spelling and comprehension at the Word Works board; another group received teacher instruction on how to craft sentences using individual dry erase boards; the para worked on reading skills with another group of students; and a more advanced pair was working at a poetry station, sequencing and combining words and ideas. And this was first grade!
Pinedale is also one of the few elementary schools boasting its own robotics program. Robotics offers great way to get students excited about engineering and envision their future careers. CSX engineers coach the students to program the robots and meet the demanding requirements of the annual district robotics competition. Pinedale students came in 9th out of 58 teams this year!
Through these changes a new culture has emerged at Pinedale - one that fosters high expectations for every student, and high expectations for every faculty member. The Pinedale of today is a thriving hub of teaching and learning, involving students, teachers, parents, business partners and volunteers. To sustain this success, the school is constantly on the look-out for more resources. To find out how you can support Pinedale please contact Principal Hinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Check out the pictures from Pinedale Elementary School too!