School News

Widmyer principal shares goals, strategic plan with school board

Widmyer Elementary Principal Rhett Beckman shared the school’ s successes and improvement goals in his school strategic plan update at the February 21 Morgan County School Board meeting.

The school strategic plan updates replace the local school improvement council (LSIC) presentations.

Beckman said that Widmyer Elementary school goals are an increase in reading and math skills, improved parent involvement and improving school climate.

One school strategy to improve student’s reading is the first grade’s “walk to intervention” program. It groups first graders with similar reading levels and abilities together in the afternoon so teachers can target more specific skills, Beckman said.

The school has one recovery aide that works with small groups daily either in the classroom or by pulling students out of the classroom. The recovery aide also fills in as a substitute teacher for the day if they don’t have a substitute, he said.

Widmyer Elementary Kindergarten students Brayden Kastler (left) and Skylar Dadgostar (middle) and second grader Issabella Ward (right) get ready to spin the Wheel of Widmyer with Communities in Schools liaison Sherrie Byrd (far right) to win gift cards and other prizes from local businesses. Their parent had to answer a Did You Know attendance question that was posted on the school’s Facebook page, web page and Class Dojo. The activity was designed to promote attendance.

Two support aides work with small groups or individual students, one aide with first grade and the other with second grade, Beckman said.

School needs

Beckman said he is really excited that their biggest school need – their Safe Schools entrance renovations with a redesigned office – will be done this summer. They’re always trying to add additional playground equipment and looking for reading supplements for areas of need.

The school needs substitutes, he said. They’re on the lookout for new personnel with several teachers retiring at the end of the year and people shifting around to other positions.

Programs that support students are the MC After 3 Jr. program and Fun Friday. Their MC After 3 program runs three days a week and has a snack and dinner for students and a focus on mostly reading. Around 40 kids are in the after-school program.

For Fun Friday, each teacher sponsors fun activities such as Legos, a movie, coloring or games and kids sign up for them. Students must have completed their work to go to one of the fun rooms, Beck- man said. If they haven’t, they go to one teacher’s classroom to finish their work. When they’re done, they can go to their fun activity.

“The kids are really enjoying it,” Beckman said.

Parent involvement

School parent involvement has increased with their October movie night, Muffins for Mom, Donuts for Dad and December Paint Night events. Parents are also serving as classroom readers and morning greeters when kids arrive on the buses. Their movie night had around 300 people in attendance.

The Widmyer Elementary movie night in October had around 300 people that attended. photo by Sherrie Byrd

Staff is really embracing the Capturing Kids Hearts pro- gram, which focuses on one character trait every month like kindness, empathy and self-esteem, Beckman said.

The school attendance rate has improved. Their Communities in Schools liaison Sherrie Byrd is holding monthly homeroom competitions, quarterly pizza parties for the most improved, quarterly dance parties for perfect attendance and a chance to win a Nintendo Switch.

Beckman said that their goals for school improvement are “to develop an emotional support program, enhance staff awareness of changing social/emotional needs of students, continue staff recognition, create new ways to involve parents and learn strategies to implement reading series.”

Widmyer Elementary nurse Patty Schlaefli reads Alan’s Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis to pre-K teacher Jessica Hansel’s class during a dental health program. Students learned how to brush their teeth and what are bad foods to eat for your teeth, said Principal Rhett Beckman.