Written By JP School Improvement Specialist Wanetta Jones
There is no I in TEAM, "Together Each Achieves Much," with this power pack. You can't help but notice the collegiate comradeship of Mrs. Tina Frye, principal, and her team sitting around the conference table discussing data, strategies, and next steps. They complete each other's sentences, make eye contact when something doesn't sound quite right, and there is mutual support to ensure explanations are clear to all who are listening. Officer Elementary in East St. Louis, Illinois, is a model school that exemplifies that school mergers can work. Let's take a look closer at how the power pack gets the job done.
It is no easy task to effectively merge staff and students of two schools who have been acclimated to their own local school environment. Salient factors and challenges to be considered-not impossible. Many of those factors not enumerated for discussion in this article, but for certain, academic performance was and remains high on the list of priorities for Mrs. Frye and her team. Her model of capable and consistent leadership has been key to the school's success. How do we know?
Data does the talking and everything else does the walking at Officer Elementary. Mrs. Frye will quickly tell you, "we depend on the data to tell us what to do and how to plan. Our teachers are prepared, we observe great teaching and learning, we regroup and revise, data is our friend," she says. Her leadership team and teaching staff has bought into the organized process of documenting, collecting, and analyzing data for the benefit of student achievement.
The "power pack" knew they needed to assist teachers not dread the laborious RTI (Response to Intervention) process. The RTI process was a non-negotiable to tier students. Teachers didn't have an option. The TEAM needed to act quickly, producing a "doable" plan. Like the Marvel Comics Power Pack superheroes, Mrs. Frye and her team came to the rescue and developed a practical and succinct step-by-step template that utilizes formative and summative data to assign students to tiers. The template worked. Teachers' were happy and students demonstrated progress.
Good news travels! When a district representative was invited to Officer to observe their RTI collaborative meeting, the inevitable happened. The smooth execution of the RTI process as they used the school-based created template, received kudos. That day, Mrs. Frye and her team were honored to know that their step-by-step template became the district's model for other schools to replicate. Well, isn't that what "power packs" do? Superheroes in education know how to put students first.