Pat, Personally

Monday, June 16, 2014

Superintendent checks in on two CCSD Zoom schools

Last week I had the opportunity to check in on the progress of two of our Zoom schools – Myrtle Tate Elementary School and Tom Williams Elementary School.

This is the end of the first year of the Zoom school pilot program, which gave additional resources to 14 of the district’s elementary schools with a large number of English Language Learners.

Thanks to funding from the legislature and Gov. Brian Sandoval, Zoom schools were able to offer students pre-kindergarten, access to reading centers, and an additional 17 days of instruction.

I received great feedback about the “summer academies” now happening in the Zoom schools. The district gave teachers an intense, but fun, pre-set curriculum to use in the extended school year. The teachers I observed took that curriculum and ran with it – implementing creative activities.

For example, third graders at both schools worked on an “Wonders of the Night” theme, learning about astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. They mimicked how it feels to work with gloves in space by wearing dishwashing gloves while they tried to tie their shoelaces and pick up paperclips – no easy feat, I found. The students were very engaged.                              

We know the Zoom schools face big challenges, and they needed additional resources to catch up their students. Zoom schools have the highest percentage of students who are limited English proficient and are the lowest performing academically.

However, walking through the halls, you could not sense these challenges; the students were all eager to learn and the teachers taught with an enthusiasm that parallels the start of a new school year.

It’s too soon to say if this pilot program is a full success, but so far we have seen tremendous results at our Zoom schools, especially in reading and writing.

Sometimes all it takes is a little boost and some extra time, but if given the opportunity and resources, every student in every classroom can learn and can excel.