• Category 1

    Selected in 2012

  • Grades: k - 5
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 7,198
    Student Enrollment: 564
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 0%
    White/Caucasian: 96%
    Hispanic: 4%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0%
    Native American: 0%
    Other: 0%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:22
    % Reduced Lunch: 56%
    % ELL Learners: 4%
    Founded: 1950
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Jill Barker
  • CONTACT:
    4700 Old River Rd.
    Canton, NC 28716
    828.646.3448
    jbarker@haywood.k12.nc.us
Bethel Elementary School
Canton, NC
“Children learn differently and excel when there is a personal connection that touches their learning needs. We get excited about the challenge of serving students and spend a lot of time outside the box, innovating, and thinking about ways to reach our children. We are convinced that something will work if only we think hard enough. It is invigorating to innovate and search for new ways to reach individual students. We focus on what we control and do not waste time blaming parents or poverty."
What is the single most important factor in the success of your school that others could replicate?
Professional development is a product of data analysis and cultural expectations. We access experts such as Dick Allington, Carol Ann Tomlinson, Fountas and Pinnell, Marcia Tate, Stephanie Harvey and Eric Jensen. We actually meet and learn from people we have studied in PLCs. Our teachers are professionals committed to continual growth. They share research based literature and get excited about new learning practices.

Our PLCs focus on reading and math and integrating other subjects. We complete book studies including Schools That Work, What Matters Most to Struggling Readers (Allington), Guiding Readers and Writers (Fountas and Pinnell) and Carol Ann Tomlinson’s work on differentiation. We use the Central Office and the local university to provide staff development. Bethel has become an incubator for developing teacher leaders who provide staff development for our school, district and region. We welcome and assist other schools who ask to visit and observe. We leave no stone unturned as we strive to meet student needs.

We have conducted on campus professional development that includes MCLASS reading assessment, Smart Board and IPAD training, Investigations Math training, Opinion writing, and Common Core Essential Standards. Teachers attend staff development such as Love and Logic, Mosaic of Thought, STEM, Payne’s work (Children in Poverty), and national conferences. Our system provides sustained trainings on Comprehension Toolkit, Math Partners, Math Foundations and Units of Primary Writing. This supports an increase in our composite (2007-08 - 75%, 2008-09 - 84.9%, 2009-10 - 89.5%, 2010-11 - 91.7%, 2011-12 - 92.8%) without plateaus or regressions. We believe the hallmark of continuous improvement is incremental growth.

Teachers provided input for this application. Regarding staff development, our teachers said, “We have a plan, we know our plan and we all work to implement it. We are willing to change it if we need to but we always work together.”
Describe the program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement.
Children learn differently and excel when there is a personal connection that touches their learning needs. We get excited about the challenge of serving students and spend a lot of time outside the box, innovating, and thinking about ways to reach our children. We are convinced that something will work if only we think hard enough. It is invigorating to innovate and search for new ways to reach individual students. We focus on what we control and do not waste time blaming parents or poverty.
The following are examples of ways we innovate:
•We converted a conference room into a “war” room. Chart paper with individual student data covers the
walls. If progress is slow, we change course quickly and work until progress is made. Everyone involved with
the student has input. The data is individual. The collaboration is united.
•We visit Kindergarten students at home and screen them before their first school year begins.
•The Principal’s Book of the Month Club shares the principal’s love of literacy with students. Each month a
new book is purchased for each classroom and is introduced to students. Vocabulary and opinions of the
book are shared and discussed. Students can take the book home and read with parents. Several schools in
the district are modeling this concept.
•We keep summer hours in our media center. The first year we had 50 students visit at least five times. Last
summer we had 250.
•We take Exceptional Students to Barnes and Noble to select several books. Each time they come to the EC
Summer Reading Program, they get a book. Many students have never been to book stores or had the
autonomy to “purchase” their own books.
•We hold school-wide book swaps in which students have exchanged over 2000 books for their summer
reading.
Innovation is doing what is best to help your students learn. When you have the freedom (or courage) to innovate, learning is fun, teachers are enthusiastic and the entire school community is excited.
Identify the professional development activities you use to improve the teaching portion of the teaching and learning process.
Aligning goals, budget, curriculum and instruction ensures PLC discussions focus on matching resources and staff development to learning. Teachers know students before day one because instructional data are analyzed and shared with teachers allowing them to tailor interventions and individualize instruction before school begins. We hire the best possible teachers. We only assign proven highly effective teachers in Title I to serve our most challenging students. We believe when you genuinely love children they will learn for you!

Research based practices are a hallmark of our curriculum and instruction. Balanced Literacy and Investigations are our reading and math foundation. These initiatives provide a strong framework. We take pride in teaching children, not textbooks or programs. We focus on what is learned not what is taught. Research based practices are imbedded in instruction. Instruction is adjusted frequently and proven practices are used to reach individual children at their level.

Practices include Balanced Literacy, Investigations, Math Partners and Foundations, Leveled Literacy, Comprehension Toolkit, First-Hand Phonics and Student Centered Mathematics. Our intense focus on individuals has led to high academic success. When all K-5 Title I schools in NC are sorted by high academic growth, 100% AYP/AMO targets met and performance composite, Bethel was the highest performing school in N.C. with over 500 students (2010-11 and 2011-12)!

Student success is a catalyst for sustaining continuous improvement. All children learn when you love them and focus on their needs. Despite our economic situation, every book (thousands) is leveled for guided and independent reading. We spend time preparing for the future by having planning days to level books, organize instructional resources, analyze data and align curriculum. We offer sustained staff development in research based practices to maintain teacher knowledge of best practices and high student performance.
Describe your school culture and explain changes you’ve taken to improve it.
Our long standing motto is “Caring Promotes Student Success.” In Bethel, caring and preservation of community traditions creates strong bonds that lead to collaboration and trust. For example, when the old school was erected in the 1950’s and when our new school was constructed children placed rocks in the foundation inscribed with the names of loved ones. In our lobby, old photos tell the school’s history. People visit to find themselves in the pictures. A local mason donated rock from the river that runs through our community and constructed a fireplace in our lobby. People eat meals, gather at the fireplace and discuss ways to support their school.
What are your school’s top two goals for the next year?
1. Increase reading proficiency to 90%. Our main focus is strengthening our independent reading time by conferencing with all students and developing a love for reading in all children. Every child will love to read!!
2. With new assessments in 2012-1013, Bethel Elementary strives to continue to increase proficiency and grow all students. New test=No excuses!!!!
Stats
  • Category 1

    Selected in 2012

  • Grades: k - 5
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 7,198
    Student Enrollment: 564
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 0%
    White/Caucasian: 96%
    Hispanic: 4%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0%
    Native American: 0%
    Other: 0%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:22
    % Reduced Lunch: 56%
    % ELL Learners: 4%
    Founded: 1950
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Jill Barker
  • CONTACT:
    4700 Old River Rd.
    Canton, NC 28716
    828.646.3448
    jbarker@haywood.k12.nc.us