Any educator would agree that the impacts of “the COVID slide” are very real. Children in the younger grades, in particular, are just now getting back to what was once considered a typical school day. Loxahatchee Groves Elementary School is working to boost student growth and get them on a path to success by joining up with other organizations in Palm Beach County.
One such program is the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County’s Read with Me program, a learning initiative that targets children in kindergarten by matching them with volunteers who come once a month as a special guest to read and interact with them in person. At the end of each session, the kids get a book to take home.
“This will be our first year partnering with that program. The first one is coming up Sept. 16,” Loxahatchee Groves Assistant Principal Juliana Bradley said. “We met with Jeanne Heavilin, and she went over the specifics. We were just excited to get back to a sense of normalcy, and having volunteers on campus, because that is something we’ve been lacking the last few years. I know the kids will be excited to have that, too.”
The first book Read with Me will explore is Eric Carle’s The Mixed-Up Chameleon, a heartwarming story about a chameleon that learns the value of just being yourself.
“I’m familiar with the book,” Bradley said. “I think it’s very appropriate for kindergarten.”
Loxahatchee Groves is also teaming up with the Literacy Coalition as part of the Building Better Readers afterschool tutoring program and will focus on providing this extra support two to three times a week for students in kindergarten through third grade.
And if that’s not enough, Bradley shared another partnership that began last year and is expanding.
“Last year, we started our partnership with the Palm Beach State College Loxahatchee Groves campus. It was more geared toward our teachers and their professional development,” she said. “We went off to their campus, and they actually trained our teachers. Their professors trained our teachers on different STEAM activities because we are a STEAM school. Now we are looking at having their students come to our campus and also do something similar.”
Being a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) school has inspired Loxahatchee Groves to also make improvements to the facility by building an outdoor STEAM classroom.
“We’ve built our own education advisory board, and different members are helping recruit donations from the community — one of which was picnic tables that were just installed,” Bradley said.
Feel like supporting this new STEAM initiative?
“Come to the front office and ask for Principal [Rich] Myerson or myself, and we can actually set them up right away with what is still needed, because I know there is a wish list,” Bradley said.
With the FSA gone and being replaced by FAST (Florida’s Assessment of Student Thinking) and the BEST (Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking) Standards, Loxahatchee Groves is focused on drilling down to the core of student needs, getting them ready for success. Included in these new reading standards are writing assessments, including cursive and grammar.
This is an extra challenge for fourth- and fifth-grade students, who have done much of their work, including writing, on the computer.
“It has been a roller coaster, but I have to say I love this school,” said Bradley, who is now in her fourth year at Loxahatchee Groves. “My own children attend here. I have a third grader and a kindergartner, and it’s just a family-style school. I wouldn’t have them go anywhere else.
For more information about programs offered by the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County, visit www.literacypbc.org.