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Elyria State of Schools newsletter

Elyria State of Schools newsletter

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Elyria Schools Superintendent Paul Rigda is sending out his state of the schools assessment in the Pioneer Press newsletter.
Elyria Schools Superintendent Paul Rigda is sending out his state of the schools assessment in the Pioneer Press newsletter.

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Published by: LorainCountyPrinting on Jul 02, 2014
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PioneerPioneer PressPress
Elyria Board of Education42101 Griswold Rd.Elyria, OH 44035
***************ECRWSSEDDM*****Residential CustomerElyria, Ohio 44035
Common Core.....................2 Writing expectations...........2Bolstering security...............2Township sidewalks............3Elyria University...................3School finances...................4Instructional technology....4Teacher evaluation..............5Third-grade reading............62014-15 calendar.................6Online testing......................7Special education................8
In this special issue of the Pioneer Press wepresent the state of the Elyria Schools.The State of the Schools is an annual dis-cussion we often host face-to-face at Elyriaschool board meetings or in another “opensession” venue but often, it’s to a limitedcrowd.The Pioneer Press, with its reach of nearly 25,000 homes, offers a great way to shareimportant updates about Elyria Schools withparents and the community as a whole.In these pages you’ll read about some of thehot buttons in education: Common Core, theThird Grade Reading Guarantee and PARCCtesting, to name a few. You’ll have some of your questionsanswered about levies, what they are and why  we need them. You’ll get a glimpse of what it means to be ateacher today and the impact of high-stakestesting. You’ll learn about the innovative ways weapproach school nutrition and some of thefun facts of our behind-the-scenes operation. You’ll read about school technology, schoollessons for all abilities and school safety.To offer a story on every aspect of schoolbusiness would extend well beyond the eightpages of news you are about to read, but wehope it does well addressing some of the mostrelevant topics of education today and leaves you with a better understanding of your ElyriaSchools.If you should have any questions after read-ing this special issue, we invite you to attendthe Elyria school board meeting on Aug. 6, where we will offer a question-and-answersession based on this issue.Thank you for reading and thank you for agreat school year. See you in August!
Paul Rigda is superintendent of Elyria Schools.
Scott Teaman
Foodservice director
 When asked what he liked bestabout lunch, a Franklin elemen-tary student said,“I like the toma-toes that taste like grapes!”This is where it all begins: Wellness.New health laws enacted in2012 and bolstered in 2013 havetransformed food offerings inschools to meet and even exceedexpectations.Elyria Schools foodservice hastransformed, by all appearances,into a mini-produce section at thesupermarket. Selections includemany different types of fruits, veg-etables and lettuces, along withsalad bars in the secondary loca-tions.The goal is to put the goodstuff in front of kids and let themmake healthy choices.The scope of wellness farexceeds healthy food choices. Itincludes being active, getting out-side, using energy and moving yourbody, which in turn improves emo-tional health. A simple walk aroundthe block is a good place to beginfor parents and their children. And since wellness is driven by innovation, we’ve put new thingsinto place in Elyria Schools tospark students’ interest in health-ful options. We began a fine-dining experi-ence at McKinley Elementary school that now takes place insixth grade at Northwood,West- wood and Eastern Heights mid-dle schools. Students learnedthere are rules, even beauty, toeating through etiquette lessons.To test and refine table manners,they were treated to a formalmeal with white tablecloths,
OakwoodElementarystudents learnhow to plantbeans at theSodexowellness fair.
 Forprotectingeducationwith yourvoteon May 6!
 Pioneer Press Summer 2014
CommonCorestandardizesteaching inOhio
 Amy Keir
Content area specialist
Common Core state standardsare Ohio’s adopted set of stan-dards for English language artsand mathematics in kindergartenthrough grade 12.The standards give uniformity to the skills and knowledge weteach to prepare students for col-lege and careers after highschool. Organized in a stair-stepfashion, these standards assurethat at each grade level, teachersteach and students build theirskills for their future.In Elyria, we have restructuredour curriculum maps to includeCommon Core. These serve asroadmaps for teachers to planunits of instruction and daily les-sons that support student learn-ing. Curriculum maps keep indi-vidual teachers — and our dis-trict as a whole — on track ateach grade level.Careful selection of materialsand instructional strategies areparts of this redesign and,according to Common Core, are alocal decision. We continue totrain and retool teachers to beskillful instructors to Elyria stu-dents.More information about Com-mon Core state standards expec-tations at each grade level can befound at www.elyriaschools.org/announcements/596.
 Amy Keir
Content area specialist
It’s the new age of Common Core statestandards but the three R’s of Reading,Writ-ing, and‘Rithmatic still rule school.The need for communication through writ-ing has only increased in amount and fre-quency in which students are expected toexpress themselves.Whether it’s functional,on-demand writing, such as a writtenresponse to literature, or sustained-guided writing such as research, our students mustbe armed with tools and techniques for the writing process to be successful communica-tors.In requiring students to be proficient with writing, we must examine how we can bestinstruct writing.The Elyria Schools will retoolits approach to writing during the 2014-15school year.Writing expectations for eachgrade level will be articulated to students and writing will be integrated into quarterly unitsin English Language Arts, grades K-12, work-ing in tandem with the selected texts studentsare already assigned to read. Writing units will focus around three genresof writing required by the Common Core statestandards: Narrative, expository and argu-mentative.We will arm students with under-standing of how writing is applied in the con-text of a subject area. Cursive writing willcontinue to be taught in third grade as a com-ponent ofWilson Fundations, a phonics andspelling program.Technology will be embed-ded in the curriculum and a necessary com-ponent of students’ written work.Teachers will receive training and coaching supportthroughout the year so they can equip eachstudent with the writing skills they will needfor the future, building their skills step-by-step toward graduation.
Common Core state standards amp up writing requirements in the classroom.
Kelly Luter
School climate specialist
Next to academics, there is no greaterfocus in schools than securing buildingsand keeping students safe. Students andschool staff participate in fire, tornado,evacuation and lockdown drills throughoutthe year to prepare for emergencies andkeep them from becoming catastrophes. Inall drills, building administrators and staff  work directly with Elyria police, fire and theLorain County Sheriff’s Office to ensurestaff and students are responding quickly and appropriately.Today’s security concerns are changingthe way schools respond in lockdown situa-tions. It’s no longer acceptable by logic orlaw to simply lock the doors, pull theshades and wait for help to arrive when anintruder is in the building. Next year, ElyriaSchools will add ALICE, an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter andEvacuate, to its crisis training. ALICEdoesn’t replace lockdown procedures but itteaches students and staff alternate ways toreact to active threats in a school building.Students, parents and community mem-bers can expect to hear more updates onthis program as it progresses. It is animportant and necessary element of schoolsafety.
Common Core standardsdrive intensive writingpractices in the classroom
The new Common Corestandardizes content in Ohioschools.
Summer 2014 Pioneer Press
Charlie Rudd and Lisa Getty 
Implementation specialists
 When Elyria teachers aren’t teaching,they’re learning best practices for teach-ing through Elyria University. And they’reearning college credit without ever step-ping foot on a college campus.Elyria University is an internal profes-sional-development program for Elyriateachers, taught by Elyria teachers, offer-ing cutting-edge educational seminarsand hands-on training. The EU curricu-lum delves into topics that go beyond theroutine. Topics like educating gifted stu-dents, understanding autism, implement-ing Common Core standards, perfectingresearch-based phonics study and numer-ous technology courses that give teachersthe skills they need to embrace state-of-the-art education technology like SMARTboards, wireless devices and accompany-ing software.Research shows that an inspiring andinformed teacher is the most importantschool-related factor influencing studentachievement, so it is critical to pay closeattention to how we train our teachers.Our ongoing professional developmentkeeps teachers up to date on new research on how children learn, emergingtech tools for the classroom, new curricu-lum resources and much more. Greatteachers create great students.Most teachers are required to take grad-uate credit courses to renew their teach-ing certification — a requirement that canbe financially taxing. College courses areoffered nationwide, but most of thesecourses aren’t necessarily going to follow the long-term plans, policies and expert-ise of Elyria Schools. Courses offeredthrough Elyria University are taught orsupervised by Elyria staff members whoare also Ashland University adjunct fac-ulty, and teachers who participate receive Ashland University credit. These coursesspeak to specific needs of Elyria teachersand students as the best professionaldevelopment is ongoing, collaborative,connected to and derived from working with students and understanding theirculture.The Elyria University course catalogoffers as many as 12 college-level coursesthat keep Elyria teachers at the forefrontof their field. Some courses are offeredonline and others are offered in a tradi-tional, face-to-face classroom setting. We’ve served hundreds of teachers withthis one-of-a-kind program.
Richard Nielson
Business services director
Get those bicycles and runningshoes ready: Sidewalks are set forstudents in Elyria Township!Last year, Elyria Townshipinstalled sidewalks on Lake Avenue and Adelbert Street with$400,000 in funds granted by theOhio Department of Transporta-tion Safe Routes to School Pro-gram. Elyria Schools installed new paved paths between CrestwoodandWestwood schools.Elyria Schools, a partner in theproject, also hired school crossingguards to work morning and after-noon shifts at Lake andWardenavenues and Lake Avenue and Adelbert Street. For added safety,Elyria Township installed pavedapproaches to crosswalks, paintedcrosswalks, added signage andinstalled reflective posts. Thetownship is working closely withthe Lorain County sheriff to boostpatrols of these neighborhoodsand the sheriff is keeping a wary eye for fast-moving vehicles orthose driving in an unsafe man-ner.Parents are reminded that stu-dents in these neighborhoods who attend Crestwood Elemen-tary School orWestwood MiddleSchool no longer will ride a bus toschool in the 2014-15 school year.The new sidewalks and paths pro-vide straightforward access for walkers and bike riders to get toschool. Added incentives for walk-ing or biking such as new bikeracks and giveaways of bicyclelocks and chains and helmets arebeing promoted at school.Crestwood andWestwood par-ents are encouraged to set theirtransportation plans now, be it walking, biking or car-riding,before their child’s return toschool in the fall.Things like“walking school buses,” or groupsof neighborhood children andadults walking together, are agreat way to encourage children tobe active with their friends whilegiving parents peace of mind when it comes to safety. Summeris also a great time to walk or bikethese paths together as a family topromote togetherness and fitness,but also importantly, to instill con-fidence and familiarity with new routes to school before school isback in session.
Westwood Middle students walk to school on new township sidewalks in the early morning hours.

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