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Pleasant View Elementary is W.Va. School of Excellence for second time

June 24, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. -- Pleasant View Elementary School in eastern Morgan County has been named one of the best schools in the state for the second time in five years, apparently by being a school ahead of its time.

Pleasant View was named a 2008-09 School of Excellence, winning the honor for the second time.

Nicole Fox, principal of the school, said Pleasant View was named a School of Excellence for the 2003-04 school year. Winning schools cannot apply for five years, Fox said, and this was the first year the school was eligible again.

"The application for the School of Excellence Recognition Program for 21st Century Learning asked what are you doing to prepare your students, and we realized we've been doing it already," Fox said.

"It's teaching 21st-century skills and content and using 21st-century tools," Fox said.

It's no longer just reading, writing and arithmetic. The skills being taught to the elementary school students include leadership, group work and collaboration, and problem solving and creative innovation, she said.

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Content includes studying cultures and the global economy, protecting the environment and health awareness, Fox said.

The new 21st-century tools include white boards, computers and laptops and software, and hand-held calculators using "Qwizdoms."

Other 21st-century efforts at Pleasant View include:

· Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade elementary school students learn how to give PowerPoint presentations, Fox said.

· The fourth-grade students were given one state to research and prepare a report. The students researched their state on the Internet, she said. Each student becomes the "expert" on the state they studied, Fox said.

· The school also has before- and after-school programs, she said.

· Science club is offered through the Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council in Martinsburg, W.Va., for grades one through five and about 40 students participated in the after-school program.

· A program called Money Smart Investments for the third through fifth grades was available before school. The students learned how to invest money online, she said.

"We integrated our curriculum to teach real-life studies," Fox said.

The school uses vertical rather than horizontal alignment to discuss how the students are learning. "For team planning, we use vertical alignment. Kindergarten through third-grade teachers meet once a week and fourth- and fifth-grade teachers meet to discuss student learning," she said.

"We also do our own community service," Fox said. The students collect pennies for cancer patients and they shoot basketball for a heart association collection.

The success of the school is shown by minimal turnover. "The Pleasant View teachers stay. There is not a lot of turnover. One teachers' aide (Daisy Fox) just resigned after 36 years here," she said.

Fox said the teachers cover each others backs. "If you're shorthanded, other teachers chip in if there is no substitute teacher." Fox has had to step in as teacher herself, she said.

"When I walk in their shoes, I fully understand their roles. A good school is not about who runs it; it's about everybody doing their tasks. That's how victories are made," she said.

"This award honors everyone who works here. Teachers, parents, volunteers and the student. We have strong parental and community support and that makes us a success," she said.

Fox taught kindergarten at Pleasant View for seven years before becoming the principal three years ago.

"This is my second home," she said.

"We are very proud of Nicole and her staff. The small school has wonderful parent support, and they all work together," said Joan Willard, Morgan County Schools' assistant superintendent.

Pleasant View Elementary School is one of seven West Virginia schools chosen as a 2008-09 School of Excellence.

How the award is won



According to the W.Va. Board of Education press release, "The Schools of Excellence are selected based on the following criteria: a rigorous and challenging curriculum, a safe and drug-free learning environment, participatory leadership, active teaching and learning, an environment that strengthens teacher skills, documented student achievement, and implementation of advanced and innovated programs."

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