Bainbridge Elementary co-teaching leads to positive outcomes

Monday, June 20, 2022

ROACHDALE — When they proposed in May of last year to co-teach a class for students who had fallen behind, Bainbridge Elementary teachers Jeanine Peterson and Jessica Ajibade had little concreteness about what they were getting into.

What they did know is that besides these students having struggled with foundational reading and math skills, they recognized that they were uneasy with bonding with their peers. On Thursday, they advocated to the North Putnam School Board that their perseverance made a difference on both fronts.

The class revolved around a pledge for the students to be kind and work hard. Guiding all of this was a quote by famed markswoman Annie Oakley: “Aim at a high mark and you’ll hit it. No, not the first time, nor the second time. Maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect.”

“Earlier in the year, we talked a lot about how practice makes progress,” Ajibade said. “We talked a little bit about how if you do it over and over and over again, you can get to it perfect.”

In leading the daily schedule revolved around math, language, writing and science, both acknowledged that they had disagreements about the process. Some of this certainly led to frustration and anxiety about meeting students’ needs. The silver lining was that they were seeing it firsthand.

“Their opportunity to see two adults work together, but also not agree and talk through our disagreements or our thoughts, was so powerful for them,” Ajibade said.

Both related that this allowed them to become comfortable with both disagreement as well as humor, to the point where students would call them out if they were teasing each other.

The group also valued opportunities outside of the classroom. These included field trips to the Putnam County Public Library, Area 30 Career Center, Turkey Run State Park and downtown Greencastle. Peterson highlighted how one student was enthralled by the size of Greencastle’s post office.

“That in and of itself was kind of an eye-opening experience for us just to realize it broadened their horizons,” Peterson said.

Out of 15 students in the class, 14 of them were able to pass their iRead-3 test, with the other being within 18 points of passing. With the majority of them two grades below in both math and reading at the beginning of the year, they are now either on par or considered one grade below.

In this vein, Peterson and Ajibade believe the class met its goals. However, they still emphasized how they were able to become more confident and trusting with them and each other. Their experiences made them both better and realize that interactions cannot be standardized-tested.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more challenged; I truly don’t know that I’ve ever worked any harder,” Peterson, a longtime educator at North Putnam, concluded. “We know that we’re stronger through working with each other.”

In other business:

• The board approved contract extensions for North Putnam’s school administrators. As such, they will continue through this time in 2024. Supt. Nicole Allee noted that they all have been rated Effective or Highly Effective and that technology stipends were attached.

• The board re-approved the school corporation’s back-to-school plan. Allee said the renewal was to be compliant with receiving Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grant money from the state. She noted that there had been no changes made since it was approved in March.

• The board approved renewing North Putnam’s food service contract with Chartwells. The per-month price will increase from $3,170 to $3,360 with equipment staying the same.

• The board approved increases for breakfast and school lunch prices. Elementary, secondary, adult and reduced prices for breakfast will be $1.90, $1.90, $2.50 and 30 cents, respectively, while the same for lunches will be $3, $3.15, $3.85 and 40 cents. Reduced lunches were decreased by five cents compared to 2019-20.

Noting that no charges for students were levied the last two years with a federal lunch program, Director of Operations Terry Tippin said the school corporation will not be reimbursed as much for meals with a summer program going out with other issues such as with supply chains, more students eating the goal.

“I think we’re going to struggle a little bit; we’ll have to work really hard on participation to get as many kids to eat as possible,” Tippin said, providing that meal cost-to-prices should only break even. “We understand it’s a stress to the families, who are already stressed out.”

• After a prolonged consideration, the board approved an amended four-year contract for Hendricks Regional Health providing sports medicine services. Allee outlined that Hendricks would have the right of first refusal and have exclusive advertising.

The concern was “turmoil” at other school systems when it came to services being added without Hendricks’ first refusal. Stipulating that some details in the contract were proprietary, Allee said she had contacted a potential competitor about the cost of a similar contract and gotten no response.

• The board approved a job description for special needs instructional assistants. Allee said they would help North Putnam’s behavioral intervention specialists with those who exhibit “extreme” behaviors. While they would earn more with specialized training, current regular instructional assistants could be tapped.

The board also approved the following personnel report:

• New hires: Shelby Olofson and Jackson Kendall - NPHS math teachers; Anthony Rossok - NPHS special education teacher; Raven Lewis - NPMS/NPHS instructional assistant and lifeguard; Jenny Heron - NPHS volleyball coach; Brandy Dickson - ninth-grade volleyball head coach and volunteer volleyball assistant coach; Bronwyn Spencer - first NPHS assistant volleyball coach; Michelle Spencer and Lana Chinn - NPHS volleyball assistant coaches; Mark Osborn - NPMS assistant football coach; Kate McElheny - sixth-grade volleyball coach; Mike Martellero - NPMS boys’ soccer head coach; Michael LePlant - NPMS girls’ soccer head coach; Eric Vaughan - sixth-grade girls’ basketball head coach; Lynn Buescher - seventh-grade girls’ basketball head coach; and Jay Burdine - eighth-grade girls’ basketball head coach;

• Transfers (effective for 2022-23 school year): Sara McIntire - NPHS instructional assistant from teacher; Angela Moore and Brittany Herd - preschool teachers from instructional assistants;

• Summer services: Dan McMurtry and Stephanie Brooks - records scanning (temporary); and Jill Vandivier - summer school substitute (grades 1-5);

• FFA volunteers (for 2022-23 school year): Kevin and Anna Ariens; Ray and Heather Pointer; Ashley O’Neal; Jeff and Char Coffman; Kristy Straziscar; Nate Skirvin; Skylar Clingan; Kyle Morgan; Ed Sheldon; Mark and Ann Timm; Allison Bayless; Walter Colvin; Lyndsay and Jason Holmes; Amanda King; Cameron Frazier; Denise Oxford; Sarah Correll; Paul and Jenny Hodgen; Taylor Goss; Robert and Jenny O’Neal; Austin Wright; Rian Browne; Stephanie Lausas; Ricki Campbell; Seth Campbell; Jonathan Poynter; Noah Poynter; Dave Berry; Jessica Neild; and Kylee Clodfelter; and

• Resignations: Angela Moore and Nichole LaFevers - Roachdale Elementary instructional assistants (effective May 24); Brianna Shafer - Bainbridge Elementary teacher (effective end of 2021-22 school year; and Michael Vicory - NPHS teacher (effective May 24).

Board members Eric Oliver and Amber Greene were absent. It was the first meeting for Heather Lawson, who previously was the secretary and treasurer at North Putnam Middle School and the corporation treasurer at Clinton Prairie Schools. She succeeded Rachel Mandeville in representing Monroe Township.

Meanwhile, Corporation Attorney Daniel Taylor, Corporation Treasurer Tanya Pearson and Administrative Assistant April Lambermont joined Allee, Tippin and the rest of the board for the meeting.

The next regular meeting of the North Putnam School Board is set for Thursday, July 14 at 7 p.m. in the large group instruction room at North Putnam High School.

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  • Kudos to the co-teaching team of Peterson & Ajibade! The class also visited the Roachdale Public Library several times throughout this past school year, and I (the Roachdale Public Library Director) also visited their classroom multiple times. This was a unique classroom experience, and one I hope the corporation is able to continue as needed. I was lucky to have been a student of Ms. Peterson (as was my oldest son). The amount of time the co-teachers spent increasing student vocabulary, life experiences, and relating topics to their life was exceptional. Visiting their classroom was a joy - the students gained confidence in their reading & enjoyed finding new genres at both the Roachdale & Putnam County Public Libraries.

    -- Posted by roachdalepl on Wed, Jun 22, 2022, at 8:28 PM
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