Academics, programs, interventions at Alexander Elementary School coming back from COVID

Adrian Public Schools

ADRIAN — As school districts continue to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Lenawee County — like Alexander Elementary School in Adrian — are taking on the task of getting students back into the classrooms while revitalizing programming that was shelved because of the pandemic.

A lot has been on the calendar at Alexander Elementary School during September, October and November, Alexander Principal Shanan Henline said Monday during the Adrian Public Schools Board of Education meeting. The board had its final meeting of November at the Cherry Street elementary school. It is the second time this school year the board took its meeting from Adrian High School to another building in the district.

Because of support from the school board and administration, Henline said, the elementary school has been able to make sure students have plenty of opportunities to excel academically.

“With the learning loss, we really missed a lot of instruction. And we noticed that between grades two and three, especially, because they were some of the kindergarteners that were coming in (during the COVID shutdowns and when most of schooling was done virtually),” she said. “So we put a huge emphasis on general education classrooms. All classrooms are meeting with small groups daily. And then we have literacy supports that are in place, too.”

Guided reading groups started early this school year, Henline said.

There are at least five interventionists at Alexander throughout the week who work with students on an as-needed basis. These interventionists, some of them former or retired teachers, work with students on either a full-time or part-time schedule. The goal of having the interventionists is that they will be able to provide more direct instruction to students who might have fallen behind during the pandemic. Students qualify for this type of education based upon their scores on standardized testing. They receive direct and one-on-one learning if they score below the benchmark for their grade level in either math or reading.

“We're using two assessments to get them involved,” Henline said. “…We have about 55 students who do receive reading support.”

Another form of intervention the elementary school it utilizing is through partnerships with Adrian College and Siena Heights University.

SHU students and soccer players are coming into the school a couple of times during the week and are coordinating programming with the students or they are assisting outside at recess while playing games with the students and interacting with them.

Come the start of the new year, Adrian College will have at least 15 students who are going to come in and tutor Alexander students, Henline said.

“I think this is another kind of intervention that we're bringing into our school for more supports for our students. I do think that it's important to pull our Adrian College and Siena Heights teacher education students into our buildings, too,” Henline said.

Leadership programs available to students

While there is a lot in place to assist students who are struggling, there are also opportunities for students to get involved from a leadership standpoint, Henline said.

Many in-school and after-school programs are coming back from the pandemic, including student council, Safety Patrol, Science Olympiad, spelling bee, honors choir, math pentathlon and the winter drama club.

The acceleration program, which introduces fifth grade students to some of the expected curriculum when entering sixth grade at Springbrook Middle School, continues to interest many students.

Students have been able to excel outside of academics this fall, Henline said, as they have been involved with the school’s fall homecoming; organized programming during Hispanic Heritage Month; an anti-bullying program in October that promoted kindness, acceptance and inclusion; and coordinated services during Veterans Day.

Focusing on positive behavior interventions and supports

While academics are at the forefront of what teachers are expected to provide for students, Adrian teachers are also molding students into leaders and role models in and out of the classroom through PRIDE qualities. PRIDE — Productivity, Respect, Integrity, Determination and Excellence — is at the core of Adrian’s positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) districtwide discipline program.

In relation to how PBIS is being observed at Alexander, Henline said the school is in the midst of its Attendance Matters program, as well as its Extra Innings program, which is also tied to student attendance.

Students who record perfect attendance are recognized for their achievement and can have lunch at the principal’s table. Students who have missed a significant amount of time from school, meanwhile, work with Alexander’s mental health therapist during Extra Inning sessions of school, which require them to catch up on missed classwork during an after-school program.

The elementary school has close to 30 kids participating in Extra Innings, but Henline said those numbers are progressing as the school year moves along.

A districtwide PBIS bus initiative, which is being implemented this school year, has diminished the number of bus disciplinary referrals at the elementary school, Henline said.

“There was a time I was getting about 10 or so (referrals) every other day," she said. "I will say we've done a phenomenal job with that and things have gotten better.”

The PBIS building leadership team meets every month and designates which Alexander student will be recognized as an outstanding student of the month.

A PBIS schoolwide party took place prior to the Thanksgiving break for the first time since the 2020 party was canceled because of the pandemic. Last week’s gathering featured activities, games, treats, snow cones and bounce houses for those students who are excelling as role models and leaders in the classroom.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegram: Academics at Alexander Elementary bouncing back from COVID