Schools readying for students

Adjustments being made at all levels

By Wendy Byerly Wood -

Editor’s note: This is the second article about summer preparation for the upcoming school year in Elkin City Schools.

In less than a month, the halls of Elkin City Schools’ three schools will be bustling with students, teachers and activities, and area administrators are working hard to make sure everything is set and ready to go on the first day of classes — Aug. 29.

At Elkin Elementary School, the School Improvement Team, which meets monthly, had decided this year to add subcommittees in an effort to make sure the school is meeting its goals which were set. Some of those committees include reading instructional, math instructional and one focused on technology purchasing.

For students, one of the changes they will see is a new six-day enhancement rotation, explained Principal Pam Colbert during a recent school board meeting. This new rotation will add computer skills which includes keyboarding into the rotation, something she said they found was lacking when students were moving up to the middle and high school level.

At the sixth-grade level, Colbert said the day will be operated on more of a middle-school type schedule, with band held every day, and physical education held more often as well.

As far as teacher’s assistant positions are concerned, Colbert said, “Our TAs are phenomenal and are an integral part of our instruction. This year, and as we continue to lose positions, we are trying to keep their work as student-based as possible and use them for reading instruction.”

She said one of the ideas the school is working on is building a larger base of volunteers who will help take care of things like making copies, decorating bulletin boards and other non-instruction-based items to free up TAs to help with instructional assistance. “We want the state to take notice of their instructional importance,” Colbert said of the TAs.

Another brainstorming idea the school staff is tossing around is moving classrooms around within the building, bringing the sixth-grade level to the main building. “It is this group of sixth-graders’ only year to be in sixth grade, so every decision we make we are doing what is best for the students as a whole,” said Colbert, who added on July 25 that no final decision had been made yet.

“We are expecting a banner year at the middle school,” reported Principal Casey Morrison as she began her presentation.

She and Elkin High School Principal Joel Hoyle were excited to report that both schools will be getting their own MakerSpaces. “It enables the children to be creative,” Morrison said.

This year, students will see the time in their core classes extended some as the school changes how it incorporates the STEAM initiative into instructional time, she said of the Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics curriculum. Instead of having a time dedicated just to STEAM instruction, Morrison said this year the teachers will be incorporating STEAM into their classroom instruction.

Also in the coming school year, Morrison said the school’s positive behavior model will focus on service, serving the greater good and focusing on what students can do for others. “When the students give to others, they build self-esteem and do better academically,” she said.

At the high school, Hoyle said he is excited to be incorporating the school’s new MakerSpace this fall, which will mean students in grades kindergarten through 12th now have access to MakerSpace areas. “We are still developing what it will look like,” he said of the high school’s area. “We visited East Forsyth to get ideas on how they use their MakerSpace.

“The goal is to give the teachers more opportunity to incorporate STEAM and project-based learning. It ties to the curriculum and standards in the content areas as they are teaching,” Hoyle said. “We saw students [at East Forsyth] using their content to create lessons to teach to elementary school students in various ways.”

He also announced the hire of a new band director, Greg Carpenter, who introduced himself briefly during the public forum portion of the school board meeting.

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

Adjustments being made at all levels

By Wendy Byerly Wood

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