MES students work together for a better education

Pocahontas County Board of Education president Joe Walker observes as fourth and first grade buddies at Marlinton Elementary School show him how to play a math game that is part of the Grade Level Buddies program. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education Local School Improvement Council meeting Monday afternoon at Marlinton Elementary School, students shared information about the progress they have made in the school year, as well as programs they are implementing to learn together.

Fourth grade teacher Brian Smith explained the school’s program called Grade Level Buddies, while his students and Devan Simmons’s first grade students demonstrated the math portion of the program.

“Older classes pair up with younger classes for different things throughout the school day and the school year,” Smith said. “So we have a breakdown of kindergarten paired with third grade, first grade and fourth grade, and second grade and fifth grade.

“This is my class – fourth grade – and Mrs. Simmons’s first grade class and we’re going to be buddies all year,” he continued. “We’re going to hang out and do things together. We’re going to read to each other. We’re going to play math games.”

One math game the students showed the board included two or three regular dice. The fourth grade student rolls the dice and the first grade student adds the numbers together and gives the answer as quickly as possible. Once they get in the groove with two dice, a third is added, and the fourth grade student then will throw in subtraction problems to challenge the first grader.

The board observed the students at work and asked questions about the program.

The kindergarten students in Shannon Anderson and Barbara Beard’s classes sang the Dr. Jean’s Song of Letters and Sounds, which was a new take on the alphabet. The students not only learn the letters of the alphabet, but the sounds they make when used to create words.

Also presenting were fifth grade students Gavin Malcom, Hayden Moore and Allison Friel, who explained the work they have done in English/language arts class.

The students talked about two books they recently read and how they used graphs to compare the characters and the stories in those books.

The board thanked the students for their presentations and hard work before dismissing them to go home for the day.

In his presentation, principal Philip Anderson shared a PowerPoint presentation in the school and said the students and staff and doing great this year. He specifically pointed out that the Grade Level Buddies is going very well and several teachers were pleased to see that some children work better with peers than they do in the normal structure of a class.

“We’ve only been in school for a little over a month and we’re progressing to better educate our kids,” Anderson said. “We have good students. They come to school, and they are ready to learn.”

In updates:

• On behalf of the LSIC, J.L. Clifton addressed the board about safety concerns with regard to students waiting for buses on the sidewalk at the school. Clifton said there are issues with congestion, and there is no shelter to protect students from the elements.

Clifton said he has reached out to local businesses and is working on a plan to construct a structure that would have a roof and benches for the students which would provide better protection.

The project is still in the planning stages, and Clifton said he is unsure when the project would get underway, but he wanted to address the board and see if it needed official approval.

The board informed Clifton that when a plan is drawn up with a materials list and cost, he should return to the board to share the plan and it would be discussed at that time.

After meeting with the students and LSIC, the board held a work session with MES staff to discuss concerns and plans for the school.

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