Pulaski Elementary School Principal Linda Edwards thinks it’s never too early to plan ahead. Her assistant principal, Kim Sink, agrees. They’re both excited to help students get ready for adulthood, even though it’s years away.
Towards this end, they have implemented two programs to help students achieve long-term goals. The first is data planning, which they presented to the school board at Thursday night’s meeting. Essentially, data planning is a very detailed system used to track student performances and spot problem areas in their learning. Data boards are maintained to help teachers visualize how well classes are performing.
This program is part of the Virginia Department of Education’s Response to Intervention program, which other schools in the Pulaski County school system are engaged in some aspects of. According to Sink, however, PES hews to its framework, identifying gaps in student comprehension and using scheduled remedial time to redress the problem with work, all of which helps keep kids at SOL standards.
The second is Commitment to Graduate, a school program through Jostens, a company that manufactures class rings. “I just happened to pick up on it when I was on the Internet,” said Edwards.
The program, interestingly enough, is designed for high school students, but Edwards saw no reason that should stop her from adapting it for elementary students. “I thought, ‘Gosh, we need to plant that seed now,’” she said.
The program’s goal is to give kids focus on the importance of staying in school until graduation and receiving a high school diploma, thus lowering the dropout rate, encouraging pride in self and school and creating a support system for students.
Translated into concrete terms, kids get a bright green bracelet to wear with the slogan “Commitment to Graduate” and are addressed over the PA system each Friday morning by a guest speaker who tells their story to students.
Friday morning’s address was from Sink herself, who told students of the changes in her academic career and her ongoing commitment to get a doctoral degree in education.
“Getting an education is not always an easy job,” Sink said in her address. “It takes hard work and a lot of time … All of you have already committed to one graduation. All of you are currently working on graduating from Pulaski County High School. Keep up the good work. It will give you a bright and shining future.”
Upcoming speakers will include representatives from New River Community College, Virginia Tech, Radford University, military personnel and trade industry workers, among others.
The program is not short-term, says Edwards, but slated to continue throughout the year. “We’re kind of planning this as we go,” she said.