Fifth-grade students thrive in Scott 2 elementary schools

Fifth-grade students thrive in Scott 2 elementary schools
Posted on 01/22/2017

At Scott County School District 2, fifth-grade students have the freedom to be children. They are the leaders of their elementary schools. They are the examples and mentors to the younger students. They are preparing for middle school next year in the safety of an elementary school classroom with their teacher there to guide them through this time of transition.

“[Having fifth-grade in an elementary school setting] gives them a sense of belonging. It helps their confidence. It teaches them how to speak out. How to be themselves,” said Lee Anna Willett, a fifth-grade teacher at Lexington Elementary School with 16 years of experience in the classroom. Lexington Elementary School is a 2016 National Blue Ribbon Award-winning school.

Each week, fifth-grade students at Scott 2 work with younger students through one-on-one reading time. The fifth-grade students are able to develop relationships with the younger students by spending time with them and reading with them. 

“I feel like a leader here. I go to the Kindergarten. I enjoy it. I like meeting a new kid who doesn’t have a big brother or big sister to look up to. You get to help them,” said Hayden Garten, a fifth-grade student at Johnson Elementary School.

Not only are the fifth-grade students the leaders and mentors of their elementary schools, they are also building upon the technological skills and education they have established in the years before, so they can transition to an Apple-distinguished middle school next year.

At Vienna-Finley Elementary School, fifth-grade students in Patty Clancy’s class created a slow-motion video, demonstrating how many times in a row they could toss the partially-filled water bottle with the right rotation that the bottle twists in the air and lands upright or on its cap. The students had to create a scientific journal where they had to measure the water in the bottle, draw the bottle to see if shape effects the outcome, and create a hypothesis. The students saw how many times out of 25 they could perfectly land their bottle, like an Olympic gymnast hitting that perfect 10.

“I like fifth-grade because of the assignments you do. They’re pretty fun. We did a bottle flip challenge,” said Dawson Richey, a fifth-grade student at VFES.

“I like my teacher. She teaches you in creative ways,” said Haley Thomas, a fifth-grade student at VFES.

At JES, fifth-grade students create a weekly newscast using a green screen, microphone, and an iPad they have set up in a studio area in Hope Strobl’s classroom. The students take turns as anchors and reporters, providing the school news to the students, staff, parents, and community. The students also created a popular segment where two willing students volunteer to try two foods that would not normally be paired together. One week it was chocolate and canned sardines; the next, it was tuna fish on doughnuts.

“She’s really nice. She really likes to help us if we get confused,” said Sydney Mayer, a fifth-grade student at JES. “It feels like home here.”

At Scott 2’s largest elementary, Scottsburg Elementary School, fifth-grade students work as a community and prepare for middle school through classroom and departmentalized instruction, where fifth-grade students start with their classroom teacher for reading but go to other fifth-grade teachers for math, social studies, science, and language arts. Students also take initiative through leading their own parent-teacher conferences.

“Building confidence is key in all areas of learning and growing,” said Melissa Stanley, a fifth-grade teacher at SES. “Students are taught that SES fifth-grade works as a community of learners, leaving no one behind. Teachers encourage students to take educational risks, be problem-solvers, and most importantly, believe in themselves.”

“The best thing about a fifth-grader is we get to switch classes, which helps us get ready for middle school. Our teachers are amazing, kind, thoughtful and caring,” Leala Langdon, a fifth-grade student at SES.

The elementary school has a National Elementary Honor Society and a Student Council Honor Council. The Student Council Honor Council is a distinguishment for outstanding student councils in the state; SES has held this honor for more than 10 years. This year, the fourth- and fifth-grade Spell Bowl teams placed first in their divisions, and the fifth-grade students also hosted a pajama drive to support youth homeless shelters.

“One of the best things about being a fifth-grader is that we are more responsible, so our teachers let us try to do more things on our own, instead of doing everything for us,” said Nevaeh Alexander, a fifth-grade student at SES.

It is the one-on-one teacher interaction and smaller class sizes that make the difference at Scott 2. The fifth-grade students only have one teacher running the classroom, so the teacher has a chance to notice changes in the students, provide tailored instruction, and give each fifth-grade student the time to grow as children into preadolescence.

“They are at the age where they understand emotions, your jokes, your references, and work independently. But, the maturity level isn’t there yet,” said Strobl. “You can see a difference between the beginning of the year to Spring Break.”

“They are still at a young age. They need the support of a controlled classroom,” said Willett. “With one teacher, the teacher knows what’s going on. That consistency with one teacher is crucial in that area of development. They are seeing changes physically and emotionally.”

In addition to personal and education growth, Scott 2 offers fifth-grade students a number of enrichment and extracurricular activities to help all students become involved. Scott 2 offers archery, chess club, drama club, history club, student council, science club, volleyball, cheerleading, basketball, math and spell bowl, robotics, girl and boy scouts, knitting, YMCA After Care, high ability, recycling, Kiwanis Kids, Destination Imagination, Lego League, Club 316, Lyrics Alive, Tech Warriors, Just Say No, and Bouncing Braves — just to name a few.

“They have so many opportunities for kids. It covers the whole spectrum of kids,” said Clancy, who has been the classroom for 17 years as a teacher. She worked at Madison Consolidated Schools for 15 years, teaching at Deputy Elementary School.

“I feel like I have a lot of freedom in my teaching. The principals do what’s best for their buildings. Everyone knows what’s going on at the schools. The communication is great. Dr. Slaton does a nice job with that,” Clancy said about her time at Scott 2.

Scott 2 gives the instruction, technology, and freedom to let fifth-grade — and its other students — grow in a safe environment. It is not only the students living in Scott County School District 2 that can take advantage of all Scott 2 has to offer — any student residing in Indiana can freely choose to come to Scott 2. Through open enrollment and school-choice laws in Indiana, parents and guardians can choose the best education Southern Indiana has to offer at Scott 2. 

Transportation solutions are available at Scott County School District 2 with established bus routes picking up students living in Henryville, Crothersville, and Austin. Other options are available to families living on the borders of Scott 2 in Scott, Jefferson, Clark, Washington, Jennings, and Jackson counties. Call today at (812) 752-8999 for more information.

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