Island Academics

An educational column for parents and students

by Local School Officials

GBS Begins Initiatives To Improve Reading 

I would like to begin by commending my staff on the wonderful job they have been doing for the children of the Guy H. Benjamin Elementary School. We have made a pledge this school year to focus on reading. We have begun some major initiatives on the campus to better meet the individual needs of each student. This is not going to be an easy task, but we have committed to doing what it takes to get all of our students reading at benchmark for their particular grade levels.

By Dionne Wells,
GBS Principal

Forthcoming will be information to parents on the results of our first round of DIBELS, which is the diagnostic reading test given to students in the fall, winter and spring. This test clearly shows where the child is and where he or she should be at the end of the school year. With these reform efforts in our reading instruction, we should see gains on our Iowa Test of Basic Skills in March as well.

The Iowa Test is what the district uses to determine whether a school has met their adequate yearly progress as mandated by the No Child Left Behind Initiative, and I am elated to report that Guy H. Benjamin Elementary School did rise to occasion and we did receive adequate yearly progress for the school year 2006-2007.

In order for there to be success within a school, it must embrace change, be cohesive, collaborate, have sincere interest in each child and most of all be dedicated to improving the level of instruction that takes place in its buildings. At Guy H. Benjamin School, we possess all and more of these qualities.

It is our philosophy that we must instill in our students not only academic qualities but social skills that they would carry throughout their adult life. We have begun by building the vocabulary of our students by introducing four words a month, discussing their meanings, using them in the classrooms and around the campus and challenging each student to incorporate them into their characters and vocabularies as well.

We have also been using our strategies learned from our two-day training to help us to know how our students feel so that we can help them to focus and ultimately to learn. Our students have been very receptive to this approach and we have seen improvements in classroom management.

We also realize that we could establish elaborate rules for our campus, but what good would it be to just post rules? Instead, we have decided that we will teach the expected behaviors we would like our students to possess. Throughout the course of the year, we will be conducting assemblies that focus on instilling in our students: respect yourself, respect others and respect property.

The Educators for Social Responsibility will be returning the week of November 13 to conduct part two of the training. At that time, they will conduct classroom observations, introduce the parent component of the program and provide faculty and staff with a third day of training. We are excited to have incorporated this program into our school and look forward to the additional feedback and training we will receive from the consultants. Thanks to Golden Eagle Financial LLLP for their contribution to assist us with the financial support to make this a reality.

On October 22, we have our first faculty meeting and noon dismissal; October 24 we will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with an assembly depicting Hispanic culture, along with cuisine and games beginning at 10:30 a.m.; October 25 we will have our second PTA meeting beginning at 6 p.m.; October 26 we will celebrate Red Ribbon Week and the importance of being drug free beginning at 10 a.m.; and October 31 is our Storybook Character Parade in conjunction with Julius E. Sprauve School, when students will parade around Cruz Bay dressed as a character from their favorite book. If you’re available, stop by Cruz Bay at around 9:30 a.m. and support our students and schools in our quest to make reading fun for our students. We will spend the entire day at JESS for a variety of fun-filled activities which correlate with reading.

Special thanks to all of the community for their tireless support and contribution. We have an open-door policy at GBS, and invite you to stop by and visit our beautiful campus and witness the wonderful educational experiences we offer to our students.