Collaboration/Communication/Caring - School Safety, Academic Recovery, and Parent Communication
At FMES, we understand the importance of the family unit and the community as a whole in the development of students. We realized that the 2020-2021 school year would be unlike anything that we have experienced before and through collaboration as a school team and effective communication with parents and stakeholders we could grow our students academically, socially, and emotionally.
We ensured school safety for all students by following all recommended DHEC safety measures while still trying to provide students with an authentic and fun learning environment. Our teachers were able to utilize the family model to maximize time spent with their students to build classroom community and a rigorous learning environment. Our school was still met with challenges throughout the year as we navigated different instances involving contact tracing and virtual learning for students. Regardless of the situation, teachers and staff were able to continue to provide a multitude of learning opportunities for students on a daily basis.
We also recognize the value in including the greater community in the growth of our school and our students. While it was not possible to have as many visitors in the school as previous years, our goal was still to foster community relationships. We have continued to implement partnerships with Winthrop University, First Baptist Church, Fort Mill Middle School, Fort Mill High School, Nation Ford High School, and Catawba Ridge High School. First Baptist Church is involved in grounds improvement and cleanup, and we look forward to having them back in our building to read with our students. Our partnership with Winthrop University allows us to host students who have chosen a career in the field of education. These students participate in a multitude of classroom observations, student teaching experiences, and full-year internship opportunities where they hold the status of “Junior Faculty Members.” Our local middle and high schools provide positive role models for students and we plan to continue to grow these opportunities to provide academic support for our students by providing reading opportunities with older students.
Continuous teacher growth and collaboration is a priority at FMES. During the past school year the theme for the year focused heavily on the PLC model, social and emotional learning, and learning for all students. To foster this theme we have continued to move to a Professional Learning Community model which incorporates increased teacher collaboration. Grade level teams operate as a collaborative team and have dedicated times when they meet to discuss curriculum and planning, as well as to discuss student data. Grade levels have implemented times for intervention and enrichment where they can further meet the needs of each child.
Since there were constraints with our staff meeting in large groups and spending extended periods of time in each other’s classrooms, we have utilized virtual meetings and professional development opportunities throughout the year to provide a meeting space for our teachers and staff. While it has been less than ideal for collaboration purposes, it has helped us grow to be flexible and adaptable.
Teachers are encouraged to continue to be lifelong learners to further provide a learning environment that provides their students with impactful educational opportunities. We have continued to place a focus on our reading and writing instruction, and have also implemented phonics based word study instruction in our early childhood classrooms. We also utilize STEAM leaders to continue to emphasize the importance of STEAM components in the classroom. STEAM leaders have been involved in planning STEAM based lessons with other grade levels, as well as lead professional development sessions that focus on STEAM practices. Lastly, we recognized the importance of Social Emotional Learning for our students in relation to the difficulties presented to us this school year. We have placed a heavy focus on building classroom community and having a daily morning meeting with students. Our staff has taken on this responsibility of ensuring that their students are provided not only a rigorous academic education, but also that they are provided learning opportunities to grow socially, emotionally, and behaviorally also. Each of these processes provides teachers with valuable time to collaborate with colleagues, share their craft and expertise, and continue to build relationships.
Jad Griffin - Principal
Christi DeWaele - School Improvement Council Chair