Whitehall Elementary Schools
Whitehall Elementary School is located in Bowie, Prince George’s County, Maryland. The mission of Whitehall Elementary School is to educate children beyond expectations. We will accomplish this through a learning community of caring and competent educators who provide rigorous, quality instruction to all students. The collective utilization of the many strengths, talents, creative energy and cooperation of staff, parents, volunteers, and community partners will ensure that students reach their maximum potential academically and socially. Our school day begins promptly at 9:15 am. Each morning the principal and assistant principal greet the bus riders, as well as the students walking or being dropped off at school. At 9:15am announcements begin. A student leads the building in the Pledge of Allegiance. The reading specialist reads the word of the day, the counselor recognizes students and has a student give the character tip of the day, and birthdays are announced. The instructional day begins. Students follow the county mandated time allotments for reading (kindegarten-gr.2; 135 minutes and grs.3-5; 105 minutes), mathematics (kindegarten-gr.2; 75 minutes and grs.3-5; 90 minutes), science (kindegarten-gr.2; 45 minutes and grs.3-5; 60 minutes) and social studies (kindegarten-gr.5; 45 minutes every other day). They participate in vocal music, physical education, library/media, computer technology, and social skills/character education. Our students benefit from instruction from an Interrelated Arts teacher several times throughout the year. Each classroom teacher also infuses Art into the curriculum. There is an overall positive learning environment for each child and individual that enters our building. We exist to promote an academic environment that’s second to none, where students are challenged and prepared to be lifelong learners and positive contributors to our world.
B. School Demographics
The diverse population of students is made up of walkers and bus riders from the local neighborhood. Our school is composed of 1 pre-kindergarten, 3 kindergartens, 3 first grades, 3 second grades, 3 third grades, 2 fourth grades, and 3 fifth grades. Average class size is 23. Of our total student population, 46.0% are African American, 40.0% are Caucasian, 7.4% are Asian/Pacific Islander, 7.4% are Hispanic, and 0.2% are American Indian. We educate 220 female students and 199 male students. Seventeen percent of the total enrollment is from families below the poverty level and receive free and reduced meals. The attendance rate is satisfactory at 96%. The school staff and administration provide a strong, rigorous academic program, emphasizing high expectations and achievement for all students. We have 28 professional staff members, 4% of whom have two or less years of experience, 27% of whom have three to five years of experience, 31% of whom have six to ten years of experience, 8% of whom have eleven to fifteen years of experience, and 31% who have sixteen or more years of experience. All teachers at Whitehall Elementary hold Standard or Advanced Certification in the state of Maryland. Ninety-four percent of our teachers are considered highly qualified according to No Child Left Behind legislation. We also have 16 support personnel, who consist of Para–professionals, classroom assistants, and lunch/recess monitors whose services and support are invaluable. Our school community is a direct reflection of our student population. We benefit from a very supportive group of community partners whose main focus is to ensure a quality education for all students.
C. Major initiatives and how these efforts will improve student performance.
Careful data analysis and evaluation directs our instructional decision-making process. We examine Maryland School Assessment (MSA), Quarterly Benchmarks, Scholastic Reading Inventory, Individual Reading Inventory, Running Records, chapter test results, student work samples, attendance, and participation data for trends and instructional implications. Through this process, we have identified our school’s major initiatives to sustain and accelerate student achievement. The first area of focus is in reading. In order to sustain and accelerate our students’ reading skills, we will adhere to the schedule for reading and language arts instruction, 135 minutes for kindergarten through second grade and 105 minutes for third grade through fifth grade. Teachers will meet with students for small group reading instruction daily. This block will be based on the Comprehensive Reading/English Language Arts Program, Standards of Excellence, Curriculum Frameworks, and all components of Houghton Mifflin Reading Program including independent reading and independent writing, directed/guided reading instruction, word study, writing instruction, reciprocal teaching, and teacher read aloud.
Specific focus areas will be on comprehension of informational text, understanding the text after reading to enhance students’ abilities to summarize, making inferences and understand author’s view point, and decoding skills to assist with fluency and literary comprehension.
In order to sustain and accelerate student achievement in comprehension of informational texts all students will be engaged in reading Time Magazine For Kids (Grades K-4) and Scholastic Magazine (Grades 5) to reinforce content area skills. With understanding the text after reading to enhance student’s abilities to summarize, make inferences and understand author’s view point, all teachers will provide additional read a-lauds and model reading skills and strategie s. K-2 will focus on decoding skills to assist with fluency and literary comprehension by engaging students in daily dictation to strengthen the academic program.
We will also focus on writing instruction. Students will be engaged in writing, using the 6+1 Traits of Writing model. Specific areas of focus will be ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency conventions and presentation. This activity will occur September through June following the framework for writing.
The teacher will read and study 6 plus one traits of writing and apply that knowledge to their teaching practices. Professional development for the activity will include two or three two-hour in-services, team planning and co-teaching, and follow-up team in-services.
We will focus on individual students’ needs, students’ ownership, and parent awareness of strategies, expectations and assessments. The school will ensure that centers are being utilized in every classroom to reflect targeted skills and that differentiated instruction is occurring. We will continue to use the reading specialist for classroom guidance and professional development. The administrators will formally and informally observe teachers delivering instruction and monitor for sound educational practices. We will also utilize our human resources: volunteers, reading specialist and parents, to create intervention groups and provide individualized instruction to students in need of additional reading support.
Grade level teams will meet weekly for collaborative planning to strategically plan instruction. Identified students will receive Reading Recovery intervention in Grade 1. Struggling second through fifth graders will meet in small groups with the reading specialist and work with the Early Success or Soar to Success component of Houghton Mifflin Reading Program. Kindergarten through grade 5 students will respond daily to brief constructed response questions. The reading program will be monitored throughout the school year using a variety of assessment tools. Teachers will collect data to share at our Quarterly Data Utilization meetings. This data will include benchmark assessments, reading group lists, SRI data, DRA data (three times per year), observation notes, and student samples (i.e. prompts, LAB pages, Bar’s,). Attention will be focused on all subgroups with emphasis on student achievement growth among the students receiving Special Education services. In addition, the School Improvement Team will analyze and evaluate the data, discuss student progress, and suggest modifications to the Action Plan monthly.
The second area of need is mathematics, specifically the areas of problem solving, and fractions. In order to sustain and accelerate our students’ mathematical skills, we will adhere to the schedule for mathematics instruction, 75 minutes for kindergarten through second grade and 90 minutes for third grade through fifth grade. Each classroom teacher will assess students’ math levels and differentiate instruction based on individual needs. These flexible groups will meet daily for more effective instruction geared towards students’ specific needs. Students will write in their math journals daily, answering various BCR’s, and teachers will display math word walls in each classroom. Manipulative use, centers, and authentic tasks will be used frequently to attain our goals in the areas of fractions, problem solving and measurement. Students in grades K-2 will be engaged in Time and Calendar Mathematics daily to acquire mathematical processes and concepts. Teachers will collect data for review at Quarterly Data Utilization meetings. This data will include mathematics group lists, student work samples (i.e. math journals), chapter tests, and quarterly benchmark assessments. The School Improvement Team will meet monthly to review data, discuss progress, and make recommendations for modifications to the Action Plan.
Specific areas of focus will be on students being able to identify, write and solve problems and students being able to write and find equivalent fractions. In order to sustain and accelerate student achievement in these areas, we will enhance and strengthen the academic instruction of mathematics by providing differentiated instruction opportunities. Students will use SOLVE in order to determine the operation of a written math problem daily. Specific areas of focus will be identifying the operations needed to solve the problem, making sure that we focus on fractions at least twice a week, and justifying the results.
We will focus on individual students’ needs, students’ ownership, and parent awareness of strategies, expectation and assessments. Teachers will focus on math vocabulary and implement center activities to reinforce targeted skills. Teachers will conference with students using the Edusoft benchmark information. We will ensure that flexible grouping is occurring in math based on student specific needs. The administrators will formally and informally observe teachers delivering instruction and monitor for sound educational practices. We will also utilize our human resources: volunteers and parents, to create intervention groups and provide individualized instruction to students in need of additional math support.
In science, our school will continue to implement the new Scott Foresman Science Program. Students in grades K-2 will be engaged in science instruction for 45 minutes daily, while grades 3-5 will be instructed for 60 minutes each day. Students will participate in hands on science experiments weekly. The expository texts will be accessed by students within the science lessons as well as integrated into reading and math instruction.
All students will take part in the Science Fair. Students in grades 3-5 will identify a topic to investigate and work independently to produce a science fair project utilizing proper procedures. Kindergarten through grade 2 will conduct a class project, each contributing to the outcome, while exploring the investigational procedures.
Students will take field trips to the Howard Owens Science Center, Port Discovery, and other venues in order to enhance their knowledge of science related information.
Staff development opportunities in reading instruction, mathematics instruction and science instruction will address these areas. Use of the Maryland Content Standards, Standards of Excellence, Curriculum Frameworks, and the Voluntary State Curriculum will be instrumental to our success. In addition, the focus of our School Improvement Team, School Based Management Team, and our varied and relevant staff development opportunities will lead to accomplishing these goals.
We will increase our attendance rate to ninety-seven percent or better. The implementation of the key tag incentive program is very successful and motivating to students. At the end of each month the students who achieved perfect attendance are rewarded with a key tag that has the schools name, year and month on it. The students look forward to collecting each monthly key tag to add to their chain. The students who achieve perfect attendance are further recognized quarterly by receiving a certificate of perfect attendance. We will continue these activities to encourage students’ presence in school.
At Whitehall, Special Education services will continue to be implemented through the inclusion model. Once a week, our teachers will hold grade level meetings that will include our special education teachers. The team will plan instruction and strategies focused on ensuring higher achievement for this subgroup. The students will benefit from small group instruction with their regular classroom teacher, as well as receive the proper service hours from the special education team. The special educator will work with students on their identified needs based on their Individual Education Plan.
Special education and at-risk students will participate in a bi-annual game night, along with parents in order to improve student achievement and parent awareness of math materials/ skills.
Limited English Proficient
The school does not have a limited English proficient subgroup at this time.
E. Safe and Orderly Environment
Providing a safe and orderly environment for students, staff, and visitors is a high priority at Whitehall Elementary. In order to achieve a school climate conducive to teaching and learning, the entire Whitehall community participates. All visitors sign in upon entering the building and wear a Visitor’s Pass to move throughout the building. Students, staff, and parents review the Code of Student Conduct twice per year, and the school wide discipline plan is posted in all classrooms throughout the school. The plan clearly outlines the cooperative discipline, school rules and logical consequences. Teachers address inappropriate classroom and/or school behaviors in an appropriate manner and receive guidance from the counselor and administration. Several proactive programs will be continued that support a peaceful climate throughout the school. These programs include the Second Step Program that emphasizes empathy, problem solving, and conflict resolution, the Peace Program that is monitored and reported by the GOLD student daily, and the Wildcat of the Week. Teachers complete the Whitehall referral forms prior to utilizing the PS74 documents to counsel students regarding undesirable behavior, and the School Improvement Planning Team reviews referral data monthly in order to identify trends and patterns. There is consistent communication between home and school. The guidance counselor is a part of the special rotation, instructing each class on a weekly basis in character education and social skills. The guidance counselor also works with small groups of students based on needs including friendship issues, divorce, anger management, problem solving, and conflict resolution. There are also classroom and school-wide incentive programs. Good attendance is celebrated and rewarded on a continuous basis. The implementation of the key tag incentive program is very successful and motivating to students. At the end of each month the students who achieved perfect attendance are rewarded with a key tag that has the schools name, year and month on it. The students look forward to collecting each monthly key tag to add to their chain. The students who achieve perfect attendance are further recognized quarterly by receiving a certificate of perfect attendance. We will continue these activities to encourage students’ presence in school.
We involve our community in assisting us in maintaining a safe and orderly school environment. A local clergy member and parent volunteers assist with arrival and dismissal of students. They are outside directing traffic to ensure that the students are safe during these times. To achieve this end, community organizations have donated vest, signs, and traffic cones.
F. Parental Involvement
At Whitehall Elementary, parent/community involvement is of the utmost importance. We have set up various instruments to make sure that the above stakeholders are involved and knowledgeable about student achievement. Our most notable instrument is the Whitehall Weekly Wire. This is our weekly newsletter that is sent home so that parents are informed about the educational activities that will occur during the upcoming week. In the newsletter, the principal discusses important activities that took place or are going to take place. Each grade level enters the instructional focus of their students for the upcoming week in all subject areas. Our specialists also contribute by discussing their instructional focus. This includes the guidance counselor, music teacher, physical education teacher, media specialist and reading specialist. The reading specialist also gives pertinent information on ways parents can assist students in increasing their reading ability. The advice is practical and research-based and meets with the county and state expectations. This newsletter is used to announce the School Improvement Planning Team meetings, where we solicit the participation of our parents on this committee. It is our expectation that parents read this weekly document in order to assist their child in the instructional areas that we are covering during the school day
It is the expectation of the Whitehall Elementary administration that all teachers have a page on www.schoolnotes.com. This is a free service that our parents have come to rely on to receive weekly homework assignments as well as other information pertinent to their child’s class.
We have a large base of classroom volunteers. Our volunteers aid our classrooms by working with small groups of students, whether they struggle or excel, so that all student needs are being met.
A parent serves on our School Improvement Planning Team. She is a partner in our decision making body. During PTA Executive Board Meetings as well as during General PTA meetings, the principal shares instructional updates. He informs the various groups of successes or areas of needed improvement as it relates to academic achievement for the students. Our parent liaison helps in supporting home/school communication in various ways. She contacts parents by phone, email and flyers to inform them of informational meetings. She surveys parents to identify areas they may need assistance with in supporting their children’s education. She coordinates parent workshops based on their various interests or needs. She is instrumental in soliciting resources from local businesses to support the school in events and activities. We have partnered with Giant, Safeway, A+Education, Limited Too, Chick-Fil-A, California Tortillia, Glory Days Restaurant, Pizza Place, Velocity Skate Shop, Critters Pet Store, Claires, Hunan Delight, and AMF Bowie Bowling Center to provide incentives for students to achieve at high levels. One Source Consulting has individuals come to our school during Black History month to read to our students. Parent volunteers continuously support our school by volunteering in the library, reading to students, and donating time to various special projects.