SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE: ‘Whatever it takes, our kids are worth it!’

Anne Watson Elementary school had been on school improvement for three years, but during the 2007-2008 school year, the school met all standards. The school met standards the following year as well to remove the label of school improvement.

Third-grade teachers Angie Scroggins and Brenda Ragan discussed the improvements at the school.  “We attribute our success to the implementation of guided reading, focus on benchmark vocabulary, and most importantly, educating the whole child,” said Scroggins.

Students who need intervention time work in small groups with the teacher at the end of the day while the other students are pulled out for enrichment time, doing activities like art, music or computer lab.

“Obviously, the students worked very hard to achieve this success,” said  Stacy DeFoor, who is in his first year as principal at Anne Watson. “The teachers impress me daily with their diligent work ethic, positive attitude and their passion for kids.”

In regards to intervention, Ragan said, “They were really kind of jealous of the ones who got to stay (in the classroom with the teacher).”

Both teachers said everyone – faculty, staff, the school board and the parent-teacher organization – has been involved in making the school successful.

“Even our professional development changed,” Ragan said. “We said to our administration, ‘We need help in writing. What kind of professional development can you provide us?’ The administration has been very supportive.”

Scroggins added, “We have materials. We’re excited to use them. Our frame of mind has changed. Benchmark strategies are utilized every day in the classroom.” Ragan said, “The main thing is the professional learning community, the establishment of clear goals for the school and shared goals between teachers.”

Implementing guided reading involved a three-year process to get enough materials for the whole school, the teachers added.

“It’s been great for our school,” Ragan said. “It’s been great for the kids.”

Scroggins said three students came into third grade reading at level 16, which is a late first-grade to beginning second-grade level. The three students progressed to a level 30.

“It’s amazing to see them grow from a 16 to a level 30,” she said.

DeFoor expects more positive things in the school’s future. “Our community will continue to see great things happening at Anne Watson Elementary and our theme we have adopted is: ‘Whatever it takes, our kids are worth it!’” 

Counselor Heidi Wilson added, “This is simply not a statement on the cover of our handbook, but what we put into practice every day.”