Archive for Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Grant helps students improve social skills

February 14, 2001

With the financial assistance from a $2,650 state grant, students at Tonganoxie Elementary School are working on becoming better people.

Pat Walker, school counselor, told board members Monday night about the school's newly started "Char-acter Education Program."

Although this program works at building on positive personality traits, such as kindness and compassion, Walker says there's more to it.

"Our goal is to increase students' productivity," Walker said. "We believe that building character in our kids is ultimately going to build responsible and respectable citizens."

This can carry over throughout the school years and have a positive impact on academics, she said.

Part of the program is that the students now all participate in saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the same time each day, with a representative of the grade school's student council leading the salute over the intercom system.

Each month, the school concentrates on a different life skill. Walker said the February life skill is compassion and said the students are collecting change to donate to assist leukemia patients.

And every month, each teacher is asked to read a story or show a video about the life skill of the month.

"We feel like that's not asking too much," Walker said. "We know that the curriculum is tight already, but we also feel that the building of character of the kids is going to raise everything."

The grant money, she added, is used to purchase books, videos and related materials.

Richard Erickson, superintendent, reported on the progress of the curriculum audit, conducted at the school on Jan. 29 and 30.

The final curriculum audit report will be ready by the end of April.

On the positive side, the preliminary report said the district places a high emphasis on curriculum development and in raising student achievement on the state and national assessments.

On the weak side, the report said the district's board policy manual lacks a curriculum component.

The audit found that 100 percent of the courses taught at the elementary school have written curriculum, 76 percent of the junior high courses have written curriculum and 45 percent of the courses taught at the high school have written curriculum.

Board president Bob DeHoff defended the high school number.

"The 45 percent high school score is relatively high for a high school," DeHoff said. "The auditors said that a lot of high schools are down around 5 percent."

Following an executive session, the board:

Approved the resignation of Kelly Alexander as head varsity volleyball coach for Tonganoxie High School. She will continue to teach English at the junior high.

Approved the resignations of Julie Frank and DeeDee Waldschmidt, who are resigning from junior high cheerleading responsibilities.

Approved one-year contract extensions for the principals.

Approved one-year contract extension to the superintendent's schedule, which makes this a two-year contract.

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