Veteran educator, Robert Varner had three goals for Julia Randall Elementary School his first year at JRE as principal:
Implement weekly teacher meetings by grade level;
Improve working with "at risk" students; and
Increase the writing skills of all 500 students.
The JRE campus is split between six separate buildings, making it difficult for teachers to communicate with each other.
Now, teachers meet weekly to exchange ideas and discuss students and how they are learning.
The team's notes are turned into Varner so he knows where he can give support and address concerns.
This "best practice" has led to teachers working better with "at risk" students.
Many JRE students are in transitional family situations and it has been helpful to understand what is going on at home.
Also, Varner has required teachers to contact parents on an ongoing basis.
The calls are made whether the student is in trouble or excelling.
It also helps parents support academics at home.
Test scores on AIMS have indicated JRE is a "highly performing school."
Next year, Varner is hoping for an "excellent" rating.
"We are blessed to have great kids here," Varner said. "It is a testament to our teachers, because that is where the rubber hits the road."
If teachers drive the car on the road to learning, then JRE's Parent Teacher Organization makes the road a smooth one.
"I have never worked with a PTO this active," Varner said.
When teachers ask for support, the PTO is there for them.
Everyone was a big family at the PTO-sponsored luau and spring fling.
One of the things the PTO asked for was more communication between the school and parents.
To that end, an automatic pre-recorded call goes out to inform all parents when something happens at JRE.
A survey returned by a few hundred parents and guardians rated the school on a scale of one to five, (five being the highest) in seven areas: safe learning environment, communication, supportive leadership, curriculum, quality of instruction, discipline policy and parent involvement. All received four stars out of five.
"From my heart, the teachers and parents get credit," Varner said. "I am lucky to have them and appreciate all they are trying to do to see the students succeed."