Saturday, August 18, 2018
Education

Extra attention should help Moton Elementary raise its grade, educators say

BROOKSVILLE — After two years of trouble at Moton Elementary, the only D-rated school in Hernando County for the past two years, state education leaders have stepped in to help.

Representatives from the Florida Department of Education visited Moton — long-plagued by high teacher turnover and student behavior problems, and ranked twice as one of the state's lowest-performing schools — for the first time last week as part of an improvement plan.

During the visit, principal Joe Frana, who took over the school in October 2016 as the third permanent principal in less than a year, made a case for Moton. He told a room full of state and district officials that the school is improving, then laid out what he believes to be the reasons why.

Afterward, school, district and state representatives fell into mixed small groups to do walk-through evaluations of nearly every classroom, using a standardized evaluation tool to collect data that will be used to track and adjust instruction.

Frana this week called the visit "very powerful." He told the Tampa Bay Times that recent improvements at the Title 1 school — a school with a high concentration of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches — stem from teamwork among education leaders at every level.

"We have a dedicated group of people that are really working together to problem solve the concerns at Moton," he said. "It's a working relationship between the district, the school and the state. ... Everybody has the same goal in mind, and that is the success of our students."

Aid from the district, required by law earlier this year to form and submit to the state a plan of support for Moton, has come in full force, according to Gina Michalicka, executive director for academic services for the district. Since the school year began, she and other district leaders have visited the school monthly, and sometimes bimonthly, to observe classrooms and collect data to be shared with Frana and teachers so the school's action plan can be adjusted as needed.

She said district-level academic coaches, tasked with training school-level counterparts, have leaned hard into Moton, often spending a week at a time to work side by side with the school's math and literacy coaches and help teachers plan. Frana said other opportunities for professional development, both during and outside of school, also have been made available to the school staff.

"You can see the evidence when you are in the hallways. ... The student work and the writing that is displayed, you can see the improvement," Michalicka told the Times.

Frana said teachers are required to post data on their classes and students on a community bulletin board to not only track, but also encourage, growth.

"Our focus is knowing our data and owning it. ... Wherever students are at the beginning of the year, we make it our goal to move them," he said. "They aren't all going to move at the same rate or at the same time, but they all need to move and improve."

Frana said efforts have been made to address behavior problems at the school, too. He said disciplinary write-ups have decreased since last year after the implementation "positive behavior strategies," which include the celebration and reward of good deeds, and the reading of a daily pledge focused on school-wide behavior expectations.

The next state visit to Moton will be in January, after students have taken one of four benchmark tests given during the school year to track learning.

Superintendent Lori Romano said the goal of the improvement plan is for support to trickle from the state, "all the way down into individual classrooms." She said seeing engaged students and enthusiastic teachers during the recent walk-through proved to her that the collective efforts are working.

"It took time for the school to get to the place of being a double D school, and it's going to take time for it to improve," Romano said. "But what we are seeing is evidence that it is."

Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] Follow @mareevs.

Comments
A USF milestone: Three new dorms, more than 6,300 students living on campus

A USF milestone: Three new dorms, more than 6,300 students living on campus

TAMPA — The paint on Pinnacle Hall’s white-and-gold walls still smelled fresh as Lilly Myskey led a parade of parents and bins and bags down the hall toward her new room at the University of South Florida. "Speaking of the building being brand-new, L...
Published: 08/17/18
Florida girl denied school lunch because she was 15 cents short, mother says

Florida girl denied school lunch because she was 15 cents short, mother says

A sophomore at University High School in Volusia County was denied lunch on her first day of school Tuesday because she owed 15 cents, according to WKMG in Orlando.The girl’s mother, Kimberly Aiken, told WKMG a cashier in the school’s lunchroom threw...
Published: 08/16/18
Brooksville pastor challenges longtime principal trying for reelection to Hernando’s District 5 School Board seat

Brooksville pastor challenges longtime principal trying for reelection to Hernando’s District 5 School Board seat

Hernando County School Board District 5 incumbent Susan Duval seconded the motion to fire superintendent Lori Romano on June 12. And that’s why Joe Santerelli said he filed to run against her about a week later.A week after that, the local pastor spo...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Candidates for Hernando’s District 3 School Board seat talk mental health, technical education

Candidates for Hernando’s District 3 School Board seat talk mental health, technical education

As Hernando County School Board member Beth Narverud makes her run for a spot on the County Commission, three hopefuls are running to fill her District 3 seat.One is Jimmy Lodato, a Tampa native and 19-year Hernando resident. Retired from a career in...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Incumbent chairman and newcomer battle for Hernando’s District 1 School Board seat

Incumbent chairman and newcomer battle for Hernando’s District 1 School Board seat

Mark Johnson was elected to the Hernando County School Board in 2014. He said his successful track record, combined with local business savvy, make him the clear choice over Catherine "Kay" Hatch for the District 1 seat."It’s not just an opportunity ...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Corbett Prep marks 50th year with compassionate stories, family love

Corbett Prep marks 50th year with compassionate stories, family love

TAMPA — Sammi Borosh sat Tuesday afternoon in one of those tiny chairs for kindergartners and looked across the table at four of her former teachers — and her eyes misted.Borosh said she loved those four ladies and she loved the school where they tau...
Published: 08/15/18
For this Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, start of school is ‘beginning of the end’

For this Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, start of school is ‘beginning of the end’

Barbara Ojago saw her grandson’s first day back at school as the beginning of the end.Her grandson, Emea, will finish his senior year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. But Emea returns to a school forever changed by a former student he pe...
Published: 08/15/18
Pinellas plans new arts and gifted magnet schools in north county

Pinellas plans new arts and gifted magnet schools in north county

Next school year, if all goes according to plan, two new programs will expand the slate of options for Pinellas County elementary students — a conservatory for the arts in Clearwater and a gifted center in Palm Harbor.The programs, which will go befo...
Published: 08/15/18
Report card on ousted Hernando schools superintendent shows little change from last year

Report card on ousted Hernando schools superintendent shows little change from last year

BROOKSVILLE — Two months after firing superintendent Lori Romano, the Hernando County School Board on Tuesday reviewed results of a second district-wide survey to evaluate her performance, finding that little changed from last year.Romano’s overall a...
Published: 08/15/18

Pasco schools don’t plan to move teachers over state scores

Florida school districts recently received their teachers’ state "value-added" scores, and some scrambled to reassign those who got poor marks out of schools in turnaround status.But Pasco County wasn’t one of them, despite state rules relating to pe...
Published: 08/15/18