• Category 2

    Selected in 2012

  • Grades: k - 8
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 2,554
    Student Enrollment: 169
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 0%
    White/Caucasian: 66%
    Hispanic: 2%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 1%
    Asian: 2%
    Native American: 11%
    Other: 18%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:21
    % Reduced Lunch: 54%
    % ELL Learners: 0%
    Founded: 1968
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Cheryl Stickler
  • CONTACT:
    PO Box 1289
    Haines, AK 99827
    907-766-6700
    cstickler@hbsd.net
Haines Elementary School
Haines, AK
“At the upper reaches of the Lynn Canal in Southeast Alaska a community of learners greets each morning and enters through a doorway above which is engraved, “I gu.aa yax k’wan.” (Be strong. Have courage.) Because we in the Haines Borough Elementary School understand that what we believe, what we want, and what we know, determine what we do, we focus on analyzing which practices will lead to the success of every child."
What is the single most important factor in the success of your school that others could replicate?
At the upper reaches of the Lynn Canal in Southeast Alaska a community of learners greets each morning and enters through a doorway above which is engraved, “I gu.aa yax k’wan.” (Be strong. Have courage.) Because we in the Haines Borough Elementary School understand that what we believe, what we want, and what we know determine what we do, we focus on analyzing which practices will lead to the success of every child. By analyzing the assessment data student-by-student, we focus on what students learn, how they learn, and when learning occurs. The Haines Borough School District’s Response to Intervention (RtI) structure is founded on Best Practices requiring we continually know what, how, and when students are mastering skills. In short, we focus on the child.
Describe the program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement.
In order to provide opportunities for all children to achieve, we must ensure certain access. In the Haines Borough Elementary School, certain access is provided through our Response to Intervention (RtI) model. According to Mike Mattos, leading educator in the Solution Learning Tree organization, the 4 Cs of RtI are: Collective Responsibility (Why are we here?); Concentrated Instruction (Where do we need to go?); Convergent Assessment (Where are we now?); and, Certain Access (How do we ensure that every child gets there?). We provide certain access by increasing instructional time, purposefully planning for 100% student engagement, and providing small group and individual interventions/enrichments. We place emphasis on intervention for students in Tier 1 to prevent students needing or progressing to Tiers 2 & 3. This translates into decreasing the number of students qualifying for special education.

Extended Time – A basic tenet of the RtI model is: Targeted Instruction + Time = Learning (Buffum, Mattos, Weber, Pyramid Response to Intervention, 2009). To that end, we extend the school day and the school year to provide assistance. For example, some students arrive early in the mornings to receive 30 minutes of individual or small group reading assistance from the HBSD Reading Specialist/Title I Coordinator, or to complete Fast ForWord protocols. Our data analysis points to a correlation between Fast ForWord and improved test scores among our students with special needs and students on the brink of proficiency. Some students are reluctant learners and we provide after-school mandatory homework help for grades 3-8. Kindergarten students participate in “Kindergarten Call-Back”, a 45-minute after-school small group learning session to strengthen early literacy and mathematic skills. The school library is a-buzz with activity after school each day. One of our library’s goal statements is: “to encourage … students in becoming effective users of ideas and information.” As students enjoy reading and language activities, physical activity, and problem-solving practice skills, they are extending their learning days until 5:00 p.m. five days per week. While all students are welcome to attend Summer School, specific students are officially and cordially invited to attend this 3-week integrated learning session. A number of field trips integrates core curriculum. Outings include river raft trips, Kroschel’s Wildlife Center (where students feed moose, caribou, and call Miss Kitty, the resident brown bear, awake from her afternoon nap), and visits to the Bald Eagle Foundation. In the process of producing artifacts and evidence of their summer learning activities through the use of educational technology, they are strengthening literacy and math skills.

100% Engagement – The student who is fully engaged in a variety of learning activities is fully engaged in his education. Student engagement is a compelling factor for improving student achievement and extends beyond the charisma of the teacher. The 21st Century learner interacts naturally with technology on a daily basis. The 21st Century teacher understands how integrating technology throughout the curriculum will result in high levels of engagement. Examples of this in the Haines Elementary School include: Robotics Leagues (grades 1, 2, 6-8); SeaPerch/SeaGlide underwater robotics (grades 6-8); History Day (every year Haines is represented by a number of Alaska State History Day winners at the National History Day conference in Washington, D. C. - in 2011-2012, a student with special needs won awards at the state level and qualified to attend the national competition); Exploratories (project-based elective activities); Annual Retreat (grades 6-8 attend a 3-day camping retreat for community-building); 1st grade blog about local watershed; cross-grade reading and writing activities (reading buddies in grades K and 4; 8th grade children’s book authors work with 2nd grade authors); educational technology (interventions with the use of iPads). These items represent a partial list of the types of activities that promote 100% student engagement. Space does not allow for the complete and detailed list of learning activities, opportunities, and events.

Intervention & Enrichment – When we in Haines Borough Elementary School commit ourselves to “doing the right work for the right reasons,” we are committing to the belief that every child is able to achieve at high levels. In order to realize the fruits of our belief, we develop multiple intervention and enrichment programs. When our writing assessments showed that we needed to focus on writing instruction, an elementary teacher organized a Boys’ Writing Club whose members met during lunch to engage in workshop-based writing activities. Student work was published online. When a 6th grade math student demonstrated significant lack of progress, an individualized program at her instructional level was developed, and a trained professional delivered the instruction. The student made rapid gains. When a kindergartener came to school reading at a 2nd grade level, teachers aligned their class schedules to allow for flexible grouping that accommodated the youngster’s interaction with 2nd grade readers in their classroom. When 8th grade students demonstrate advanced proficiency in math, they attend the high school algebra 1 class. During the 2012-2013 school year, 52% of our 8th graders qualify for acceleration in their math careers as demonstrated by standards-based assessment scores, MAP scores, and curriculum-based assessments. Behavioral interventions and the specific training they require are provided through Title I resources. When young people learn the art of self-regulation, independence, and goal-setting, they experience greater academic and social-emotional gains. Students demonstrating needs for intervention receive additional learning supports in the course of the regular school day, and some are enrolled in extended day learning activities.
Explain how Title I funds have supported your improvement efforts.
The Title I program within the Haines Borough Elementary School is school-wide. To us, this means that each one of us is a literacy specialist and math instruction expert. The shift from being a targeted Title I school to the school-wide model has systemically changed how the learning days are invested. Educational programs in the Haines Borough Elementary School have significantly been adjusted with the advent of RtI (Response to Intervention) and PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports). These two frameworks align to meet the academic and social-emotional learning needs of our students.

Response to Intervention - The HBSD RtI framework rests on the foundation of progress monitoring and formative assessment. An instructional focus on learning supersedes a focus on teaching. Conversations revolve around how students are demonstrating their levels of knowledge and understanding through multiple assessments. Our reading specialist/Title I Coordinator works closely with teachers, students, and families to build and hone skills that will lead students to proficiency as readers, writers, mathematicians, thinkers, and learners. The line between the services a student with an IEP receives and a student needing supports on the Response to Intervention Pyramid is blurred. HBSD adopted a “push-in” (inclusion) model for meeting the needs of students with special needs in order to gain exposure to the “good stuff” in education. We have limited “pull-outs” except to offer programs with prescriptive strategies to build skills in reading, writing, and mathematics, such as: Fast ForWord, Reading Assistant, Reads Naturally, Career Ready and Key Train, Wilson Reading System, and Math Whizz. The services are distinctly articulated, delivered and monitored, but the method - the art - of delivering those services has changed to model an inclusive setting to honor the “least restrictive environment” ideal. Interventions are examined in light of current levels of an individual’s achievement and according to the HBSD RtI framework. Implementation of flexible grouping provides variations within whole group, small group, and individualized instruction according to the child’s level of need. No longer do we have “my students/your students”. Now, we have “our students” throughout our conversations.

Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS)
“Together, Glacier Bears have Courage, Strength, Respect . . . and PRIDE!” Our school motto that underscores PBIS is fluid between academic and behavioral expectations. As we explicitly teach students what being responsible, respectful of others and property, safe, and prepared all look like, we give them the tools to succeed academically. Precious minutes are added to our school day and academics are strengthened when our attention diverted for behavioral issues decreases. The Title I program is integral to the successful launch of PBIS, because resource requirements are shared throughout the building. Title IIA resources are allocated for an external coach/system-wide evaluator who provides an “outside lens”. The 8 Steps to Tier 1 implementation include: 1) establishment of a PBIS Leadership Team; 2) development of our school-wide pledge; 3) identification of positive expectations; 4) lesson plan development to teach the expectations; 5) development of procedures for teaching classroom-based expectations; 6) development of procedures to encourage and strengthen student behavioral success; 7) defining violation protocols; and, 8) implement strategies to collect data on student behaviors. Implementation of Tier 2 will commence in January 2013.

Our Title I Coordinator has worked closely with behavior specialists to target specific student needs related to: ability to stay on task; respectful communication; and, learning how to take responsibility for actions, attitudes, and behaviors. The growth in the students is demonstrated by a sharp decrease in office discipline referrals (specific data points have only recently been collected) and a marked increase in student achievement gains over the last 2 years (reading: +.91%; writing: +3.25%) among students within the low income bracket.
Identify the professional development activities you use to improve the teaching portion of the teaching and learning process.
The Haines Borough School District’s commitment to an established and articulated Response to Intervention (RtI) model provides focus for every professional activity within our district. The professional development plans over the past few years focus on 4 major goal areas: 1) Improve Student Achievement Levels in Reading, Writing, and Math Across All Groups and Subgroups (data sources: SBA, AIMS Web, Classroom-Based Assessments, Measurement of Academic Progress, Early Learning Assessment); 2) Develop/Revise K-12 Curriculum (data source: HBSD professional development evaluation, accreditation review); 3) Improve/Enhance Positive School Climate (data source: School Climate and Connectedness Survey, annual schoolwide student and parent surveys); and, 4) Integrate Instructional Technology to Improve Student Learning (data sources: HBSD Technology Plan, HBSD Instructional Technology Survey).

Objectives to reach our 4 goals include: formative and summative achievement data analyses; RtI design and implementation; improvement in math and writing achievement; curriculum mapping; aligned, cohesive K-12 English/Language Arts curricula development; consistent classroom management strategy development; collaboration and team planning formalization to improve instruction; and, educational technology integration.

Action on our goals and objectives resulted in a myriad of activities:
• A team of teachers from elementary, middle school, and high school, along with the K-12 principal, participated in the Alaska Math Consortium Basic Institute over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year. Great attention to multi-modal learning strategies was investigated, particularly for our visual learners.
• We are participating in a series of workshops sponsored by the Northwest Evaluation Association to train us in data analysis as the cornerstone of our instructional decision-making. Stepping Stones to Using Data and Climbing the Data Ladder are 2 examples of this professional development that teaches us how to analyze, interpret, and apply assessment information gained from MAP.
• Fast ForWord training continues to be facilitated and organized through our Title I Coordinator’s leadership. A team of FFW coaches attended the Scientific Learning Institute. FFW coaches stay updated through regular webinars and site-based professional development.
• Our teachers meet monthly in 2-hour Common Planning sessions to analyze data, discuss the implications of the data results, plan lessons, and research strategies for improved learning. This collegial approach is closely aligned with current research-based Best Practices. Outcomes include: literacy workshop implementation, math lessons that emphasize visual representation, and focused book studies.
• The HBSD RtI Leadership Team (comprised of our Title I coordinator, HBSD Literacy Coach, SpEd Director/Assistant Principal, and K-12 Principal) attended the Pyramid Response to Intervention Institute in Salem, Oregon and the Fusion Conference (MAP) in Portland, Oregon in June 2011.
• Adaptation of math and language arts curricula is underway. The math curriculum is completed and the language arts curriculum is in its final draft stages.
• We worked with our behavior specialist to develop, implement, and monitor behavior plans for students in Tiers 2 and 3 of the PBIS Pyramid.
• Our work developing and implementing PBIS is led by the HBSD PBIS Leadership Team and is supported by an external coach.
• Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (Crisis Prevention Institute) training was delivered to all instructional staff to address Tier 3 intervention needs in the RtI/PBIS Pyramids.
• Guest teachers modeled lessons and worked with students to integrate drama and movement into the core curriculum, as well as using storytelling to build writing skills.
Describe how data is used to improve student achievement and inform decision making.
The assessments that guide and direct instruction must be formative. Our formative assessments do not simply reveal what was taught, but more importantly how, what, and when are students learning. The Haines Borough Elementary School administers the Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment, a norm-referenced universal screening tool 3 times per year. The computerized assessment is adaptive and self-adjusts to provide information on mastered, instructional, and readiness levels for the individual student. The results are analyzed in grade level teams to identify trends and gaps as we drill down into each strand of reading, writing, and mathematics. Other formative assessments include, Developmental Reading Assessment, anecdotal records, and classroom-based assessments. Progress monitoring through AIMS Web for underachieving students is delivered to track levels and amounts of achievement gains providing timely feedback on the effectiveness of intervention strategies. Additionally, we have adapted an early learning assessment tool designed by a district in Kennewick, Washington to provide imperative baseline literacy and math development data for our youngest learners. Because we are committed to avoid being “DRIPs” (Data Rich, Information Poor), the variety of data analyses spurs continuation of effective instruction and adjustments when the data indicates we are missing our mark.
Describe your school culture and explain changes you’ve taken to improve it.
The synergy that occurs when the right people are together at the right time in the right place to do the right work is powerful! Our community strongly supports education and demonstrates its support by being directly involved in the day-to-day learning activities. Students from Haines are known for being respectful and responsible. This is a direct reflection of our community valuing the individual and how our diversity strengthens us.

When the current administrative team joined the Haines Borough School District, we saw and heard that our teachers wanted every child to have access to the "good stuff" in education. Our Special Education Director led the change effort of reducing the number of special education "pull-outs." She delivered professional development on the value of a "push-in" model that accommodates learning differences. The Haines School Board allocated additional funding to place instructional supports (para-educators) within the classrooms. Professional development on differentiated instruction was a primary focus in those beginning years of our "push-in" model. Our superintendent recruited a team of teachers to attend training on how to raise expectations of high student achievement for every child. The result was a collective shift toward "standards of excellence." (Spending 32+ hours in the school van to travel to the training and camping out together on the way home gave us ample time to plan, discuss, and inspire one another to impact change within our school upon our return.) Our principal garnered support for monthly common planning sessions during which grade-level teams meet during the school day to analyze student achievement data, plan instructional units, and develop cohesive, aligned curricula. She also successfully advocates for schoolwide attendance at the Alaska State Literacy Conferences. Our Title I coordinator researched and advocated for an innovative intervention program (Fast ForWord) that was purchased for our district through ARRA funding. She continues to spearhead the ongoing professional development for the intervention coaches who work with students daily.

HBSD has come to realize that getting children ready to learn before they enter school has the greatest potential for educational and emotional/social success. As a result, the Haines Borough School District allocated Title IIA funds to contract the services of a Literacy Coordinator in 2010. That first year, the HBSD Literacy Coordinator raised public awareness about early literacy through community events, informational flyers, and local newspaper advertisements. This recent attention to the youngest of our community has revived collaboration between school district personnel and early childhood educators and caregivers. To strengthen the transition into kindergarten, educators are discussing collaborative professional development, and sharing resources with our community’s pre-school educators. A major accomplishment has been the establishment of The Children’s Reading Foundation of Haines, an affiliate of the National Children’s Reading Foundation whose Board of Directors includes representatives from HeadStart, Chilkat Valley Preschool, Haines Borough Public Library, REACH Infant Learning Program, Parents as Teachers (PAT), HBSD, and private early learning schools.

All of these activities speak to our common goal and overarching vision of sustaining a learning environment in which every child is highly successful. We understand that our school is a place that honors student diversity, student talents, and strong collaboration for the good of every student.
Describe specific programs in place to ensure that families are involved in the success of your school and students.
Our success in partnering with parents, families and community can be summed up in two words – ‘easy access’. The school’s physical design, availability of formative data on student progress, welcoming attitude for parents and community volunteers, and collaborations with local agencies all support easy access. Merged together these partnerships are the backbone that supports our school’s excellent academic and social culture.

Physical Design - When our new school was built five years ago, the entire K-12 student body and staff came together under the same roof for the first time in HBSD history. With the addition of one large commercial-grade cafeteria, centrally located in the building, the school has become a hub for community gatherings including fundraisers, potlatches, and family game nights.

Student Progress - Teachers enable parents to understand the progression of academic growth for their children with:
- Training sessions on K-3 reading and writing continua ;
- Open House orientation and parent training on data collection and use;
- Explanation of assessments such as AIMS Web, MAP, and Fast Forward during parent conferences;
- Regular communication with teachers (face-to-face before and after school, e-mails, telephone, newsletters);
- Monitoring of grades, progress, and teacher/parent communication through PowerSchool (web-based school information system);
- Continuous individual parent conferences with all related support staff (sharing results of Child Study Team action).

Volunteer Support - Parents and community members log an average of 3,000 hours of volunteer time per year. Involvement includes:
- Classroom support for academics, field trips, and class events (Tlingit Elder storytelling and history support);
- Volunteers within the school day from community members and high school students as “Bigs” in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program;
- Parenting and teacher education classes for 1-2-3 Magic, Love and Logic (in collaboration with Lynn Canal Counseling Services);
- Announcers, judges, and awards for the annual Spelling Bee contest sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary;
- Readers’ Theater coaching and performances;
- Parent and grandparent leadership for Kindergarten center time (Annual Mother’s Day quilting projects with grandparents).
Describe the most successful activity your school has initiated to strengthen the ties to your community.
When we analyzed school climate data and discovered that our middle school students were struggling with making school connections, our teacher team brainstormed a brilliant plan that include an annual retreat and project-based learning activities (Exploratories). The Middle School Exploratories are 3-week sessions that occur 3 times each school year. Students in grades 6-8 are taught by community members with expertise in: arts (visual and dance); archery; career exploration; Native arts; quilting; gourmet cooking; martial arts; technology; film-making; and, photography. Our Exploratory Finale is a celebration and display of completed student projects. The Annual Retreat is a 3-day/2-night camping trip during which we participate in community-building activities. It is an extraordinary opportunity to strengthen relationships among students and among staff.

Additional Collaborations –
Community-based agencies committed to the natural sciences, historical culture, and healthy lifestyles bring educational opportunities into the classroom. Students are involved in and contribute to authentic community-based knowledge. The Takshanuk Watershed Council works with students and teachers for hands-on science projects (i.e. stream surveys, composting from school lunches and student vegetable gardening, forest studies, frost tube monitoring).
Describe your philosophy of school change or improvement.
Educators, the true teachers, are called into this honorable profession. There is a resounding understanding at the visceral level that we do not rise each morning to go to a job. We rise each morning to answer the call of being a teacher - one who inspires, learns, grows, and leads. Public education in America today is stronger than ever, because of our collective vision of our youths’ potentials, gifts, and talents. It also is strong because we understand the power of relationships.

Change that moves us forward as a community comes from within the community. When we have a communal clear focus, we are well-poised to effect positive change. School change - school improvement - is led by desire for creating a better and better environment for our children. School change can occur in response to directives, but once the directive ceases (or the director moves on), the system reverts back to past practice. When, however, school change occurs through a clear and common focus that stems from a collective desire, the system evolves into one that is higher functioning, healthier, and better for children. Desire that is not articulated remains a dream. Desire that is voiced and acted upon results in lasting and positive change. And, a collective desire arising from reflection is the catalyst to continual improvement. Public education in America today is strong, because we are committed to our professional relationships and are learning that the process leading to positive growth is creative, innovative, and within our calling, child-centered.
What are your school’s top two goals for the next year?
Our top two goals for the upcoming year are:
1) Sustain high achievement levels through reflective practice: What are the children learning? How are the children learning? What are we doing for children who aren’t learning? We will accomplish this through progress monitoring that is administered with fidelity, data-driven-decision-making, and a relevant curriculum.
2) Increase parent involvement through a School Advisory Council that will provide support and input to the school board, students, teachers, and administration, as well as helping to build bridges between the school and the community. The SAC will be comprised of parents, a teacher representative, and an administrator.
Stats
  • Category 2

    Selected in 2012

  • Grades: k - 8
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 2,554
    Student Enrollment: 169
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 0%
    White/Caucasian: 66%
    Hispanic: 2%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 1%
    Asian: 2%
    Native American: 11%
    Other: 18%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:21
    % Reduced Lunch: 54%
    % ELL Learners: 0%
    Founded: 1968
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Cheryl Stickler
  • CONTACT:
    PO Box 1289
    Haines, AK 99827
    907-766-6700
    cstickler@hbsd.net