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School leaders prepping for new year

Preparing for the upcoming school year, each building principal gave an update to the school board Monday as students get ready to head back to class. Enrollment numbers, classroom changes and administrative work were shared by the staff at each school for the 2019-20 year.

At Monroe Elementary, approximately nine new students have enrolled from outside of the district, not including new kindergarten students. The overall enrollment remains the same at 275 students.

In the classroom, a $500 grant was given by the Monroe PTA to each room to be used for flexible seating.

“When visiting classrooms this year, you will notice that you will not find many rooms with traditional rows of desks,” Monroe Elementary Principal Jayme Braida said. “Instead, teachers are opting for flexible seating and are transforming their classrooms into spaces that are more conductive to learning and collaboration.”

Research has found flexible seating has been shown to elevate student engagement along with improving student behavior, providing more opportunities for movement and increased student autonomy.

The Building Leadership Team also shared three focus areas for the school year including promoting and sustains a collaborate culture within and among the elementary building, optimizing instructional time and increasing cognitive engagement during core instruction and building a shared knowledge of effective instructional practices through collaborative inquiry.

At Prairie City Elementary, enrollment has grown by 10 students from the last school year. During the summer, using paint and supplies purchased by the district, principal Stephanie Ver Helst along with her daughter’s volunteered their time to prep and paint a wall in 12 different classrooms in order to make all walls the same color in each room. The work took about four days and feedback from the teachers was positive.

The PCE Building Leadership Team met and collaboratively planned the back to school meeting, developed culture commitments, examined their beliefs, reviewed goals and the school mission. The leadership team will meet monthly to plan and lead staff meetings and learning opportunities.

The middle school is also seeing a bump in enrollment with an overall increase of about 10 percent with a total of 269 students. For the new school year, the building is implementing a new schedule which includes an advisory period for every student at the start of the day, increase instructional time and a short break in the morning.

The staff also established culture commitments to help guide the staff throughout the year. The commitments include being a unified staff, building positive relationships through communication and engagement, celebrating each other and our building and being positive and present role models for each other and the students.

“Our custodial staff has worked hard over the summer and the building look good,” principal Wade Van Vark said. “They especially did a great job clearing out and reorganizing the storage area.”

New high school principal Kristen Souza work the staff has been doing to prepare for the new school year including new teacher orientation and training throughout the summer.

“Our new teacher ... will spend time with their assigned mentor teachers to help them get acquainted with the district and the building,” Souza said.

For training, the buildings new instruction coach, Sam Pohl, attended a conference in Cedar Falls and the new mentor teachers attended “Mentoring Matters” training in Johnston.

“They will all be ready to work with our staff this year and we have some new ideas to get teachers more involved in the tLC process which will benefit everyone involved, especially our students.”

Superintendent Brad Jermeland also announced in the board packet the first two home football games will be played at Central College in Pella. The cost to have the games at Central is $1,000 per game and PCM will keep all gate funds.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com

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