All of the schools in the BRSSD are excellent and have their own culture. I am thankful for all of the people who do so much work to make all our schools great. But today I want to profile one of them in the hope that people will recognize what an example of educational excellence it has become.
Schools that are innovative, dynamic, and proactive are places children and their families want to be. Schools that value every child, and every aspect of every child, are places children and their families want to be. Schools that provide cutting edge instruction to provide students with the tools they need to take advantage of the opportunity their futures will present are places children and families want to be. Nesbit Elementary is just one of those schools.
Led by Principal Robin Pang-Maganaris, Nesbit has been making exceptional progress in all of these areas. She and her staff have made a commitment to their children, their profession, and our futures–they seek to ensure that, whatever the obstacles, their students will succeed. That may mean that a special education student will grow or a student learning English will become fluent. Or it may mean that a high performing student will be challenged in ways that keep their interest in school and allows them to achieve their potential.
But what have they done to achieve this? In short, they have taken many concrete steps–some of which come from cutting edge research and some from good, old-fashioned, hard work and caring.
First, Nesbit teachers do benchmark assessments three time per year. This allows them to more closely track where their students–as individual learners–are succeeding and where they are struggling. Feedback like this allows teachers to mold the curriculum to meet their students needs. Nesbit is the only school in the District to have adopted this practice.
Another unique effort at Nesbit has been in the area of teacher training. Over the last two years or so, the District has sent teachers from Nesbit to the Teacher’s College for Reading and Writing. They have received top of the line training in new strategies for teaching language arts. In this day when our children will be called upon not just to understand math or science, but to explain it to others, language can be a key skill. Nesbit’s teachers are coming back from the Teacher’s College ready to implement new strategies and to train other teachers throughout the District in what they learned.
Nesbit’s teachers also have received training in Explicit Direct Instruction and Kate Kinsella’s Accountable Responses teaching pedagogy. These elements help ensure that all teachers are able to give kids individualized support and further improves their already quality teaching methods.
Nesbit is also providing 30 extra minutes of language arts and math instruction to its struggling students. Keeping all students moving at close to the same rate of learning helps to allow the teacher to provide a higher level of instruction for both the struggling students and the high-achievers.
Finally, Nesbit has created an after school enrichment class for academically talented 4th and 5th graders. Assisted by Oracle, this enrichment program helps further challenge those children who are doing very well. We have struggled as a District to find resources for sufficient enrichment programs because of our budget problems–Nesbit has found a way to offer one.
Much of what I have described about Nesbit is important…they are just some of the examples of the cutting-edge education its students are receiving. Indeed, some of the best teaching in the District is happening at Nesbit. But what I have left out so far is the atmosphere at the school. And that is often just as important.
The principal and the staff at Nesbit know the kids. There are currently about 350 kids at the school and Robin knows each one by name. The staff has been willing to learn new ways of providing instruction that are paying off … test scores are going way up. Nesbit’s PTA is extremely active and has developed a true feeling of community. Just go to one of their restaurant nights–they pack the place with families who are enjoying each other’s company while making a contribution to their school.
Several things are important when one considers the right school for their child. Things like walking to school can be nice. But the really important thing is what happens at the school … will the child be walking into an innovative atmosphere filled with energetic people interested in him or her as an individual? People willing to go the extra mile to ensure he or she will get a level of individualized instruction not seen everywhere? A place where the staff and principal will get to know them and be willing to help them succeed–both socially and academically? These most important things we want in a school can be found at Nesbit.
The BRSSD has become a destination for families looking for a place to get a high-quality education for their children. And Nesbit will quickly become a sought-after school within the BRSSD–indeed, some parents who see what their child can get at Nesbit have already told me they want to be there.
I want to thank the entire Nesbit community–parents, staff, Robin, and everyone associated with the school–for working so hard to make it such a great educational environment. You are creating a spirit of excellence and making a huge difference in children’s lives.