The agenda may have appeared light, but there was still plenty to talk about as Jamestown Public Schools' Board of Education paid a visit to Fletcher Elementary School.
On Tuesday, the board held its regular meeting at Fletcher as part of its annual tour throughout the district. Members were greeted by Maria DeJoy, Fletcher principal, and several teachers who provided a presentation on a program that is unique to the school.
In 2009, Fletcher achieved the distinction of being one of only 12 New York schools to receive a grant for a pilot program called, "Response to Intervention." According to Stephanie David, Response to Intervention literacy coach, the program is innovative in the sense that it is catered toward individual students' learning styles and their subsequent educational progression.
Members of Jamestown Public Schools’ Board of Education pose with customized travel mugs they received as gifts in recognition of their service in observance of School Board Recognition Week. From left are: Dan Johnson, Paul Abbott, Joseph DiMaio, Laurel Lucas, Patrick Slagle and Shelly Leathers.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
"What Response to Intervention basically means is, if there's a student struggling in a certain area, we discuss how the student is doing and we pick apart the data that we have on the student on an individual basis," David said. "We see what the student's strengths and weaknesses are, but we also identify what gaps they have and why they're not making progress like we want them to. So we look at all this data, and then we make decisions based on what we can do to help them fill those gaps."
David said the program was initially created in order to avoid a hasty diagnosis of student needs without exploring the reasons behind the student's lagging progress.
"The whole reason why (Response to Intervention) was created because we don't want to classify 'special ed. students' too quickly or unfairly. We want to make sure we exhaust all of our resources to make sure that's where they are," she said.
David said the grant is set to expire next year, and the Response to Intervention team is still modifying the program to a state of optimal efficiency within the Fletcher environment.
"It's been a process but we've learned a lot," she said. "We have so many templates to finally get to the final one of what works best for our school. We want to have our decision-making down to a T so, when a student pops up, we can take them right through the steps without question. So, we're getting there. We're much better off than we were a couple years ago."
DeJoy said she is comfortable with the model that is currently being implemented, and she is hopeful to be able to extend it into other portions of the district.
"I know this is a model that will be sustainable through the years, even after the (Response to Intervention) grant money is finished. And this is something that we hope the rest of the schools will be able to use," DeJoy said.
In other business, Board of Education members were recognized for their service by Superintendent Tim Mains as he read a resolution acknowledging the observance of School Board Recognition Week.
"Now, therefore, be it resolved that we hereby recognize and thank the Jamestown school board for their service to the Jamestown community," Mains said as he finished the resolution.
The board members were presented with customized travel mugs.