From the principal’s office: Celebrating North Tahoe School’s students
March 2, 2012
TAHOE CITY, Calif. andamp;#8212; North Tahoe School: a place where you may get a hug from a fourth-grader or a place where you may get a hug from an eighth-grader. North Tahoe School: a place where you may find an eighth-grade student reading andamp;#8220;Oh the Places Youandamp;#8217;ll Go,andamp;#8221; by Dr. Seuss, to a fifth-grade class. North Tahoe School is special in that we are configured as a fourth- through eighth-grade school. While we are unusual in the grade configuration arena, we are typical in the student achievement and student well-being arena.We have implemented some successful structures and systems this year promoting a sense of shared responsibility around academic achievement and around a safe and respectful school climate. The fourth- through sixth-grade students have self-contained classes while the seventh- and eighth-grade students have an advisory class fostering this sense of shared responsibility and academic efficacy. The self-contained setting and the weekly advisory classes allow students to connect with an adult and with their classmates. In such settings, students feel safe and heard. They learn how to interact positively and problem-solve effectively. Our students gain a greater understanding of the purpose and ways of NTS and society. Furthermore, we have extended this student-centered, proactive approach to our discipline and behavior support methods. Through this approach, students come to understand the reasoning behind the structure, gain the capacity to make andamp;#8220;goodandamp;#8221; choices and internalize the desire to make andamp;#8220;goodandamp;#8221; choices. As a result, both the severity and number of infractions are to a lesser degree; including a reduced number of students with suspensions. Out of all the referrals, this school year, most of the referrals were minor disruptions verses a major infraction (such as fighting). The numbers of suspensions are down by 50 percent.The staff of NTS is also devoted to providing a rigorous and viable education via the essential grade level standards to all students. In providing quality instruction, teachers work weekly and monthly in their Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to collectively implement various research-based instructional strategies and instructional units. When visiting a classroom on any given day, you may see an andamp;#8220;I canandamp;#8221; statement around the learning objective for the day. You will see students engaged in an activity to practice and internalize that dayandamp;#8217;s learning objective. As a result of this collaboration and andamp;#8220;effectiveandamp;#8221; instruction, the percent of students who are proficient on our district wide language arts and math benchmarks have grown at least six percent from last year. In addition, teachers work together both weekly and monthly in their PLCs to monitor student academic progress. Math and Language Arts teachers respond to the student data by either providing some re-teaching instruction to students who need additional support; or enrichment for those students who have mastered the concepts. While some re-teaching occurs in the classroom, there is also a 30-minute block of time dedicated to re-teaching and/or enrichment. Some enrichment opportunities may be an Odyssey of the Mind class, 21st Century Digital Class, an extended Science or Social Science Class. All students experience these enrichment opportunities over the course of the school year. Consequently, students are achieving in their core classes and beyond. Opportunities also extend beyond our school day. Students can attend a daily homework club, either before or after school, receiving extra time and expert support in the completion of their schoolwork. Student-athletes can participate in some nontraditional sports such as skate-skiing up 3,000 feet to the Look Out or rip roaring down a 1,000 foot drop on the Gold Loop (all in the backyard of NTS at Tahoe City Cross Country). Students can also participate in Jazz Band, which meets before school. In this class, students have the opportunity to learn improvisation and many different musical styles such as Big Band, Latin, blues, rock, and pop tunes. Our jazz bands perform regularly for the school and community. The before- and after-school programs might just provide the spark that ignites a studentandamp;#8217;s curiosity to pursue an interest further.You are invited to be a part of our journey: Our North Tahoe School House Rocks Campaign is about striving together for excellence. You contribute if you spend an hour or a day in a classroom at North Tahoe School; read with your child; do homework with your child; or ask about your childandamp;#8217;s school day. Check out our School House Rocks display in the entry foyer of our school and see how many parent names we have added to it!We strive for excellence in all we do. We are collectively focused on providing a targeted and effective education for each and every student. We are equivalently centered on fostering both respectful and socially responsible children and young people. You will find North Tahoe ordinary; you will find North Tahoe extraordinary.