Tuesday, August 18, 2009

1997 - 1999 Moving on and Moving Down

The first full year of class size reduction in K-3 was 1997. Each teacher had 20 students. It was a dream come true. Prep teachers still had 30 kids. The triad teachers were happy to have their own classes. All the classrooms were occupied. We still had about 450 students. We just had many more teachers. However, our student population was soon to go up.

In 1997 the Synergy Media Retrieval System was installed in the hub room and each classroom. We had instant broadcast video in each room including the office for about six years, then it started falling apart. When the district lost the only two people who knew how to make it work school wide, Jay Hendee and the technician, Richard, that was the death knell. By 2009 Synergy was no longer was viable. The technology had changed 500% during that time span. It was old equipment that had not been updated.

After much debate with parents and students, in 1998 5th grade moved down from the middle school. It was quite a switch for them and us. Now we were a K-5 school with about 650 students and five more teachers. More portables were moved out to the grass area. Prep teachers did the “wheel” as an elective for the 5th graders. The media specialist started the AE television broadcast with each 5th grade class. The wheel only lasted one year. The system was too complicated for elementary students and their teachers to handle. It just didn’t work.

In 1998 began the Cell and Excell literacy training program for teachers. Laurie Koehler was the ExLL coach and Bee Medders was the CELL coach. ExLL was for 4th and 5th grade. CELL was for k-3. CELL stands for California Early Literacy Learning. The focus is on teaching reading and writing including content reading for the 4th and 5th grades. Teachers spent a lot of time on this training much of it during staff meetings. Much of their focus was on using read alouds in the classroom everyday and twice a day if possible. The buzz word now was "coaching" instead of trainers. The coaches went into classrooms and worked with teachers and students.

Leonore Sanchez

Jill Baer

We also had some office changes. In 1996 Nancy Mumm replaced Barbara Finnigan as a clerk III. Barbara went to the district office to work with Kathy Moniz. In 1998 Mike recruited Jill Baer from the district office to come to Alvarado when Leonore Sanchez retired. Leonore came to AE from Hillview Crest in 1984 with principal Hector Carabello. Jill worked with Mike at the district office and liked his jolly sense of humor.

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