As the Fayette County Board of Education continues its Local School Improvement Council (LSIC) meetings tour, they were told Monday about more schools that say they are doing well, but want to improve.

Meadow Bridge Elementary'sprincipal said staff have been keeping an eye on student weaknesses and working to improve them.

“We found out in math that numbers and operations were a weakness,” Andrew Tokarz said. “Data analysis and probability were also a problem. In writing, sentence structure was a weakness.”

Tokarz said staff has kept programs going that have shown positive results for students.

“We've been forming intervention groups and we have progress monitoring every two weeks,” he said. “We adjust the structural group as needed. I think that's important when you see someone who is pulling ahead of the group, to move them to a group that's a little bit harder or more challenging. We also use a lot of read-alouds. We try to find a program that appeals to a student's individual needs. That's why there are so many different programs.”

Just like in each other LSIC meeting, Tokarz got the chance to talk about some of the positive efforts in the community.

“We had Boy Scouts out here last summer and they painted lines and doors and went on and on,” he said. “They really worked hard and so much was done.”

“We still have the Snack Packs that are sponsored by City National Bank. You can always tell there's a need for those on Monday mornings. When you walk into the cafeteria you'll see kids scrambling for food and you know that they're not getting anything over the weekend. We send a little Snack Pack home with them that contains a pre-packaged peanut-butter & jelly sandwich, some pudding and some fruit. It's not much, but if you don't have anything at all, it means a lot.”

Tokarz said the community is always there to help in any way they can.

“One thing I'm really blessed with is community members willing to volunteer their time,” he said. “If I ever need something, there are several people that I can call and pull off to the side and say, 'You think you can help me out with some winter coats?'

“When you see a kid coming in Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in just a T-shirt, you know they need a coat. I make a few phone calls and I've never been disappointed in this community. A coat shows up almost the next day. We do have needs out there and we do try to address them in the best we can.”

Next up was Meadow Bridge Principal John Henry.

“First thing I want to talk about is the AP classes here at the high school. We're very privileged to offer several AP courses here at Meadow Bridge. We have two English classes, a chemistry, physics, calculus, European history and geography.

“Since 2009, I wanted everyone to see how many students we've had pass the AP exam. I went back five years and got a little bit of data here. In 2009 we had zero students pass AP exam. In 2010, we had three. In 2011, we had four. In 2012, we had two and in 2013 we had three students that passed the AP exam.”

One board member asked Henry how many students were in the last set of AP classes.

“I don't have the data right off-hand, but for total AP students, we probably have around 15 to 17,” Henry said.

Henry said they have something to be very proud of at the high school. He says they were one of three high schools in the county to be named a “success” school.

“That's a very proud moment for me and I'm sure for the staff as well,” he said. “I think one of the most important things to do for a school is creating a healthy culture and climate within the school. That really involves getting the community involved in any way that you can. We really celebrate the great things that our kids are doing here.

“We celebrated our ‘success school’ label with a pie-eating contest and we had a nice little pep-rally and celebrated each student who scored 'Mastery' or better in any of the four testing areas on the WESTEST. We also took about four students to Pipestem State Park to celebrate the fact that they scored at least Mastery in at least three of the four areas of the WESTEST. Some played basketball and a couple others went fishing. It was a great day for our students.”

Henry also pointed out Meadow Bridge High School’s main goals and how they are going to reach them.

“We want to increase math scores by 10 percent, especially at the seventh and eighth grade levels. We want to close the achievement gap between males and females by improving male scores in reading and language arts on the WESTEST. We also want to decrease the number of failures at the eighth grade level because we're seeing a large number of failures at that level.

“To accomplish those goals, we're going to identify 'bubble students' through WESTEST scores and place them in a math support class that they will participate in every single day. After Thanksgiving break we're starting up our math tutoring program.”

A “bubble student” is a one who is sitting right on the edge of making the rank of “mastery” or “proficient.”

“We also noticed a big gap between male and female scores in reading and language arts,” Henry said. “Our females are scoring much better in RLA than the others were. Dr. MacCorkle gave me a great idea. We're going to do a book study with our staff by looking at a book called 'Boys and Girls Learn Differently' by Michael Gurian. We're also doing more silent, sustained reading with more gender-specific materials.

Board of Education member Lou Jones said she’s proud of both schools, but one school has fought through more.

“I'm proud of the high school she told John Henry, “Your community has had to face the challenge of trying to keep the high school in Meadow Bridge. It's so trying to always have to fight for your school. I know. I fought for Gauley Bridge High School for a long time.

“Your school has achieved more than most. I commend the Meadow Bridge schools, teachers, and community. I would love to see the kids get to keep their school and to see the kids get to enjoy their school, not to worry about it closing every year.”

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