While hosting workshops all over the county this fall to collect family, staff and community input on how to improve our schools and strengthen our communities, we also invited all SCS students to tell us how they would design "the perfect SCS school." Over 500 students participated in our first “Greater Schools. Greater Communities.” Student Essay Contest. Elementary, middle and high school winners each received a $100 gift card, and our grand prize winner won a new iPad. The four winners were recognized at the Board Business Meeting on Tuesday, January 31.
Student Name: Jarvis Palmer
School Name: Sharpe Elementary
Grade: 4th grade
"Hold Fast to Dreams for If Dreams Die, Life is a Broken Winged Bird that Cannot Fly" ` ~Langston Hughes
As a scholar at Sharpe Elementary School, I am a dreamer moving myself to make my dreams a reality. I'm reminded everyday by my dynamic teacher, Mrs. Lisa Wilkins to move towards perfection in every aspect or way of life. In addressing the topic, “How would you create the perfect school for SCS students?
First allow me to say that we have a great school system already and although it will never be perfect, it can become better. I will now take a skill that my teacher has taught which is sequence and hopefully unravel what makes a greater school for all students. The first thing I would do is offer THANKS to the hardworking teachers for pushing students towards excellence every day. My teacher always says that there is no perfect individual, but we all can strive to become better. So with that thought, I want to share that we can create a THANK YOU BOARD in every school. This would allow students to show their appreciation for teachers who are compassionate, concerned and committed to educating students. The THANK YOU board would only cost time and effort, no money. When everyone enters the building they would see a board that sets the tone for learning. They would see happy, joyful, and blissful faces eager to teach.
The second thing I would do is allow students to go on educational field trips once a month. My teacher always tells the class that you can’t learn everything sitting in four walls. Our class recently read a story entitled, “My Librarian is a Camel”. This story talked about various countries like Canada, Kenya, Mongolia, Finland, Thailand, Peru and others. Although we can’t travel to those countries, we could celebrate their culture by going to restaurants and experiencing what they eat and hearing about their culture. This would bring different nationalities together and we could learn about them and they could learn about us.
The third way to create a better school for SCS students is to provide a V.I.P team (Very Important Partners or Very Important Parents.). This team would consist of a grade level tutor for any student who might need more help to be proficient and on grade level. This school wide and community project would allow parents and school partners to donate at least thirty minutes a week to tutor. Students who are having problems with math and reading could just go to the assigned classroom and the person would make it clear.
In summary, I enjoy my school, my teachers and learning, however in order for education to move higher and higher and learning to become more exciting and fun, teachers must care, students must be given the opportunity to embrace diversity and parents and the community must join the circle of making all students enjoy their top notch school.
Student Name: Joy Kimbrel
School Name: Cherokee Elementary
Grade: 5th grade
Perfect: having no mistakes or completely correct
To create the perfect school for SCS students you would need these three elements for success:
* An E-party
* A dedicated Principal
To begin with, I would give students with good conduct an E-party. This party would be to congratulate them on a job well done, by conducting themselves in a manner that is in compliance with SCS rules. The E-parties allow students to feel good themselves for having good behavior. Also this party gives the student a break from class. In addition, it will help a child with bad behavior want to do better so that they will be able to participate in the next party. This party should be sponsored by the school and should be a once a month event on a Friday.
Secondly, recess would be a part of my perfect SCS school. An old Proverb states, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." It means that without time off from work a person becomes bored. Having recess as a regular part of the curriculum will give kids; (1) good exercise, (2) increases their focus, and (3) help to feed their brain. As a result, recess gives kids good exercise because many children suffer from obesity and the outdoors is the best place for them to burn calories, and they experience the pure joy of movement. Also, some kids are labeled ADHD but with recess it will increase their focus and it cause them to be less fidgeted in class and to pay attention. Hence, recess feeds the brain by the delivery of oxygen, water and glucose (brain food) thereby optimizing the brain performance.
Lastly, a dedicated principal is someone who has the ability to identify and understand the feeling of others. He or she must be an active listener. Kids are more than just numbers. A dedicated Principal will understand this and remember what it was like to be a kid. My perfect example of a dedicated principal is Mr. Rodney Rowan. He understood the hard work we as students put in everyday and he not only walked above, but he also walked with us. When we had tests he came to the classrooms and taught those that didn't quite understand the lesson. He made sure we did.
To conclude, a perfect school for any SCS student would have: An E-party, recess, and a dedicated principal with these three elements it would ensure a successful student and a successful school.
Student Name: Raven Baker
School Name: Kate Bond Middle School
Grade: 8th grade
In the US, about 800,000 students per year don't graduate from high school. Many factors contribute to kids dropping out. This is why we shouldn't call them dropouts. Many schools seem to lack resources that students need such as effective counseling, effective tutoring, and caring teachers. If SCS was to put more attention to these areas, they could possible create the perfect school.
One thing SCS needs in order to create the perfect school is effective counseling. Many students face family issues, deaths, and/or problems at school. In the text, "Don't Call Them Dropouts" a young girl named Sara said that many things lead to her dropping out of school, such as being abused, and experiencing two deaths at a young age. If Sara's school offered some type of effective counseling, Sara may not have dropped out. In a study on kids' reasons for dropping out, it shows that 0.8% of students lost a family member or friend. These losses led to severe depression in regards to the students which caused them to drop out of school. Effective counseling could've definitely prevented those 0.8% of kids who dropped out. To fix this problem, I'd be very cautious when hiring counselors. I'd ask them questions about various problems with students who deal with depression or family issues on the spot and pay close attention to how much they express the need to fix these problems. I'd also have it where counselors are required to push the students harder to stay in school and to participate in certain activities. Effective counseling could definitely decrease the amount of students who drop out and therefore create the perfect school.
SCS schools also need effective tutoring. Many schools have good tutoring programs, but some students don't have a way to or from tutoring after school. It is stated that 27.6% of students drop out because they're failing too many classes. If schools offered effective tutoring with bus transportation, less students would drop out because of poor grades. If it were up to me, I'd make it where schools that provide after-school tutoring must always have bus transportation. I'd also make sure tutors used potent methods to help kids understand whatever subject or subjects they're failing. These methods would include strategies that were more one-on-one so that kids finally understood the material; because after all, students who are needing tutoring more than likely do not understand the way that is taught to them in class. If these suggestions were taken, it is very possible that the number of failing students would decrease and SCS could possibly come a bit closer to forming the perfect school.
Finally, SCS schools need more caring teachers in order to become closer to perfect. Many teachers only do the required work while in school, but not the extra effort that comes from their hearts. Examples of such effort might include offering kids a ride home when they aren’t too busy or just providing an ear for listening when a student is having a rough day. Some teachers may
provide too many difficult assignments without fully explaining them. Additionally, some teachers aren't meant to teach a certain age group such as younger kids because they are too strict and forget that they are teaching children who aren’t as mature. It states in the report that 17.7% of students drop out because no one cares, but if teachers pushed their students harder and gave some extra effort, kids would feel more cared for. According to research, kids do better in classes where teachers know their students' names and say hello to them. To recruit more caring teachers, I'd have unplanned evaluations and I would view classroom videos to see if it is evident that teachers truly care for their kids when no one is watching.
In conclusion, if SCS schools had more effective counseling and tutoring programs along with more caring teachers, the number of kids who drop out per year would decrease. If students could see that someone cares for them, they'd work harder to make it. Much improvement would come from these upgrades along with SCS forming the perfect schools.
Student Name: Mikayla Corum
School Name: Kingsbury High School
Grade: 12th grade
The Perfect School
There are several aspects to creating a perfect school. Every school should have these basic foundations: well-trained staff and teachers and properly built and maintained buildings. These two are the groundwork that frames a great school. To achieve perfection within a school, a school board should focus on “real life” classes, creating positive environments, and accommodating community needs
To begin, the first step in composing a perfect school is to provide students with classes that truly prepare them for adult life. Many high school graduates leave unprepared without knowing the basics adulthood. Classes such as personal financing, home and car owning, communications, insurance, first aid, and time management are just a few classes that would produce a stable adult. A student with knowledge of these subjects would be a more responsible citizen.
Next, positive environments within a school help students to learn and thrive. Everyday, parents and guardians send their child to school with the hopes that they are treated with care and are inspired to live life creatively and true to themselves. Unfortunately, both students and teachers are forced to learn and teach in a defeated system. Pupils learn best when they are motivated by teachers who can personalize learning instead of focusing on state test scores. Teachers would be able to discover a student’s learning style and talents. Absenteeism, vandalism, and bullying would dissolve within a positive school environment. Teachers and staff who make students feel loved and respected fabricate affirmative environments. Both students and teachers would greatly benefit from positive environments.
Furthermore, a school that is involved in the community creates a trusting atmosphere. Students in different areas require various needs. Quality school counseling, after-school activities and tutoring are just a couple ways to build up a disadvantaged child. Every community has different struggles and endeavors, so the schools should accommodate to each area.
To conclude, a perfect school is nearly impossible to create. There are endless options in improving Shelby County Schools. We can start by preparing our students for adulthood with relevant classes, creating positive environments, and adapting to each community's needs.