Letter to the editor: Combining elementary schools could be a positive | SierraSun.com

Letter to the editor: Combining elementary schools could be a positive

Molly Holiday
Truckee

A lot has been said about the negative effects of combining Tahoe Lake and Kings Beach students in kindergarten rather than waiting until middle school. There are, however, many more positive effects that I’d like to mention.

The proposal to blend the two lake-side elementary schools is not about a program or programs. It is all about utilizing our resources equitably and efficiently so that all of our students will benefit from a better education.

Teachers can collaborate in professional learning communities, students will have more peers in their ability groups to work with, classes can be closer to the desired class size at each grade level while (hopefully) keeping that number low, and dollars will be saved.

One of the greatest resources that we have in this district is our children with high academic and English language skills. Many studies have shown that when children of lower socioeconomic and/or linguistic groups have proximity with affluent, English speaking children, they benefit … A lot!

I personally, feel proud, and incredibly rewarded that I have given my children so much, so early, that they now have so much to share with others. As a teacher, I know that when children are encouraged to share what they know, they form more connections in their own brain, thereby becoming more enriched.

In a classroom designed for cooperative learning as well as individual goal setting, this has a wonderful snowball effect on the entire group! Remember also, that students will be grouped for leveled instruction for the core language arts and math periods.

Differentiating instruction has been a focus of teaching for more than 12 years, and all current teachers should be more than capable of teaching a diverse class. The possibilities are really so exciting.

Studies have also shown no statistical negative impact on higher achieving students after combining in core classes with lower achieving students. On the contrary, there are many positive effects. Students in diverse schools at early ages have been shown to gain in creative problem solving and have better communication and critical thinking skills.

They are also more tolerant and likely to take more risks educationally. Children who help each other, and share their understandings, will learn more deeply, and form more connections in the brain, thereby becoming more enriched.

Who knows what brilliant engineer, artist, writer, athlete or doctor is just waiting for their world of opportunity to open “-and we could be the ones to be sure that all of our students are receiving those opportunities. We as a community, have this opportunity to take our love of education, our English language, and our collective skills and knowledge, and share them with our own children as well as the Spanish speaking students who so desperately need them.

And knowledge, is one thing that, when shared it does not diminish, it multiplies. All of our children have so much to share, and so much to give. I say let’s share, let’s give, and let’s be the community of learners that I know North Tahoe can be.