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Column: Teamwork prized at Prairie Elementary

By HEIDI MEYER, District 518

WORTHINGTON — At Prairie Elementary, we provide excellent educational opportunities to more than 1,200 students from Early Childhood through fourth grade. Educators at Prairie Elementary are extremely dedicated to the young people of this community. Our shared vision encompasses meeting the needs of all learners through establishing a collaborative culture with a focus on learning and results.

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At Prairie Elementary we use a full range of educational services to respond to the individual learning needs of students. We are devoted to meeting the social, emotional, and academic needs of every student.

Prairie Elementary is a diverse learning community with over 200 staff members. We have 52 classroom teachers, an additional 40-plus certified teachers in specific resource or specialist roles, and a paraprofessional staff of over 60 individuals who offer additional programming to our population (including English Language Learners, Special Education students, and struggling readers). With 30 percent of our children requiring specialized English Language services, much of our professional development focuses on strategies that make content comprehensible to all learners. Using the SIOP model (Sheltered Instruction Operational Protocol) teachers plan highly engaging lessons that build off of prior knowledge. Recent research tells us that the SIOP model is a viable school improvement tool where both native and non-native speakers experience achievement gains.

Teachers at Prairie Elementary work together in small teams referred to as Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Prior to the beginning of the school year, teachers at each grade level review the essential skills that are required to meet the state’s established benchmarks. During weekly PLC time, teachers collaborate to answer these important questions: What do we want students to learn? How will we know if they have learned the skill(s)? What will we do if they have not learned the skill(s)? What will we do if they have already exhibited mastery? By focusing on these questions and working as a team to analyze data from common assessments, teachers are able to adjust their instruction during a unit of study so that all student s are challenged and successful.

Parent involvement is also an essential part of reaching our goals here at Prairie. We invite you to stay connected and involved with our schools as we work together to ensure success for all children.

Here are some things that parents can do as we partner together with our common interests in mind:

1. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest. Establish a bedtime routine, and be consistent. Research tells us that kids need as much as 10-12 hours of sleep per day!

2. Give your child a healthy breakfast. At Prairie Elementary, we offer a breakfast menu each morning.

3. Check your child’s backpack each day. Each classroom teacher has an established homework plan. Important communication is sent home frequently in written form. Children from 2nd through 4th grade have a planner that is sent home daily. Ask them questions about their school day. Your interest is important to them!

4. Establish a homework routine with your children. Set aside important time each day to complete homework. Even if your child doesn’t have homework, they should be reading daily. Let your child read to you and ask them questions about what they are reading. Turn off the TV and limit video games and computer time.

5. Communicate regularly with your child’s teacher. Ask them any questions you might have. Visit the school when you are able, and attend any programs or special events that are scheduled. Conferences are held before school starts in the fall, and again in November and February.

At Prairie Elementary, staff and students are excitedly embarking on a brand new school year. We look forward to our partnership with parents and the community to ensure our common mission: student achievement for all learners!

Heidi Meyer is assistant principal at District 518’s Prairie Elementary.