September 17, 2012

Special education paraprofessional time added

Hamilton School Board members approved adding seven hours of daily paraprofessional services at Marcy and Maple Avenue elementary schools to ease the demand for special education services. Special Services Supervisor Mardi Freeman requested the additional aide time because of new students who enrolled in the district who have significant needs. An additional three hours each day was approved for Maple Avenue and four hours for Marcy at a cost of $22,000 for the school year.

Ladd reports on successful summer school session

Another successful Summer Opportunities session was realized in 2012. Summer Opportunities Director and Lannon Elementary School Principal Dick Ladd reported on accomplishments of the highly popular four-week summer school program that drew 2,065 students to the district for a range of enrichment and invitational classes. Ladd noted that this year’s program increased total student enrollment and improved academic support for students with the addition of more staff. Total staff numbered 251 teachers, paraprofessionals, administrative assistants, teaching assistants and coordinators.

At a previous meeting, the School Board accepted Ladd’s recommendation for 2013 summer school dates. The 2013 session will be June 19 – July 17. Next year’s summer school will start on a Wednesday instead of the typical Monday first day because the last teacher work day for the regular school year is June 12, with high school graduation on June 15. The later end dates are typical of other area school districts. The start date was moved to a Wednesday to allow for scheduling of summer school staff meetings, training and preparation. Pushing the schedule later in the summer would create problems for the cleaning and maintenance of school buildings in preparation for the start of school in fall. Another change in the schedule will give students two days off for the July 4 holiday. Normally, summer school is not in session on just July 4, but school attendance drops significantly when the holiday falls on a Thursday as it does in 2013.

High school initiatives support student achievement, teacher development

Principal Candis Mongan updated the School Board on Hamilton’s site plan which identifies that “students will apply 21st century learning to maximize their potential in the global community.” Action teams of staff members have created interventions and implementation steps related to themes of communication and social responsibility. The interventions state that students will:

  • take an active role in their learning to develop personal and social responsibility skills essential to contribute to their communities; and
  • demonstrate effective communication for a range of purposes in diverse environments.

Each high school department develops goals and assessment tools to measure student growth in identified areas. They then interpret results each semester and present data to administrators and the school’s steering committee.

Following are descriptions of supportive measures put in place to support student achievement:

  • Advisement Curriculum –students learn about standardized test preparation, financial literacy, reading strategies and college-career readiness planning, among other topics, during intervention period;
  • GAP Advisement – students not proficient on the grade 8 WKCE learn study skills;
  • GAP College – Advanced Placement (AP) students get reinforcement for college-level study skills;
  • PASS – individual pacing for students through 32 computer courses used for credit recovery;
  • Advanced Placement Preparatory Seminar – a six-hour seminar that focuses on study and research skills for success in higher level courses;
  • Introduction to ACT – two mandatory advisement sessions prior to students taking the practice ACT exam;
  • Junior-Senior ACT Survey – junior and senior survey data provided to guidance counselors who help students plan for greatest success on the ACT;
  • Gearing Up – practice test sessions facilitated by their teacher given to AP students two months before testing;
  • Math-Reading RtI Advisement – a double dose of instruction to support students who were not proficient on the grade 8 WKCE;
  • Portfolio Advisement – for students who are below average on the grade 10 WKCE where the goal is to demonstrate mastery of content through a student portfolio;
  • Writing Lab – assistance during advisement for students who need help with writing, editing and research skills;
  • Reading Resource – students learn and apply study skills, vocabulary and test-taking strategies to assist with reading, writing, organization and study skills; and
  • Club Success – afterschool homework program that helps students with study skills, learning strategies and homework completion.

In addition to the students measures, teacher development is addressed through the walk-through documentation process, literacy implementation plans, peer review visits and monthly staff development meetings.

Results of the school’s efforts show sustained growth and recent scores at all-time highs for AP, ACT and the Challenge Index.

Personnel business

In personnel action, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignation of Woodside paraprofessional Katherina Schneiker and Maple paraprofessional Kristin Brehm; and
  • appointed Colleen McCarthy as a part-time Maple Avenue Early Mathematics Empowerment paraprofessional, Kayla Vits as a part-time Maple Avenue Instructional & Supervision paraprofessional and Judy Flegner as a part-time Marcy special services paraprofessional.