Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Duneland School Board takes tour of new Liberty Elementary addition

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The Duneland School Board on Thursday met in the new 38,000-square foot wing on the west side of the Liberty Elementary in commemoration of its completion.

LES Principal Christy Jarka opened the meeting by noting that ground broke on the development just a smidge over a year ago, last Nov. 2.

The addition holds ten new classrooms for both kindergarten and first-grade classes, two teacher workrooms, a new art room, one more computer lab (bringing the number of computer labs to two), two rooms for storage, a larger common room in the west corner where classes can gather, and more space for custodians.

In an open area partition, between the first grade and kindergarten classrooms, is a stamped concrete gazebo where teachers can teach students outside.

New bathrooms were added closer to the existing cafeteria where the old foundation used to end. The cafeteria now expands to where the art room previously was. Builders knocked down the wall that used to separate the two rooms, marking the first time for the cafeteria to have windows.

“The (students) will now get to look outside while they eat their lunch,” said local architect Bob Gerometta, who oversaw the design for building additions.

Gerometta estimated the cost for the construction ran about $4.8 million. The work, he said, was done by Gariup Construction of Gary.

Outside landscaping was handled by James Perkins & Associates. Perkins’ firm is also responsible for building the schools new playground, which has been a hit with students and neighborhood children according to Jarka.

“Its the best part,” she said as she gave a tour to the board along with a few staff members and parents. Also tagging along was retired school teacher Ralph Ayers who will join the five-member school in January, taking board member John Marshall’s seat.

LES faculty and staff members treated the board and attendees to refreshments after the meeting’s business portion. Staff member Cheryl Alverez made a cake in the likeness of the entire elementary school layered with frosting replicating the outside look of the building.

Cupcakes made by the students were appreciated by board members.

School Board President Michael Trout also complemented Gerometta for his direction with the new addition. “It’s due to your talent and we appreciate that,” said Trout.

Gerometta in return told the Tribune that he enjoyed the work and his collaboration with staff on project that would benefit the community. “They are all nice people here,” he said.

Daily 5/CAFE

A new learning management system practiced by three faculty members at LES is instilling higher literacy and self-confidence levels in their students.

First-grade teacher Gayle Sandquist, second-grade teacher Joyce Goodwin, and third-grade teacher Amy MacLaverty demonstrated in a presentation to the board the “Daily 5” teaching strategy developed by educators Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.

Sandquist named the five components of the strategy: Read to Self, Read to Others, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing and Word Work. All are to provide students with substantial reading and writing time.

The students are allowed to choose which activities they wish to participate in and their favorite reading materials. They then work with the teachers to set their own goals. The system also focuses on small group interaction with their classmates.

Children work with a partner and basically coach each other while reading. The reading-aloud exercises help the student expand their vocabulary and, more important, reading comprehension by having the listener repeat in his or her own words what the other student reads.

If the listener’s response is inaccurate, the students reread the sentences again to check for understanding.

MacLaverty explained the systems acronym CAFE stands for Comprehension, Accuaracy, Fluency, and Expanding vocabulary. It’s designed to get children to think about what they are reading as they read it, she said.

The teachers keep what is called a “pensieve” for each student, a conferring notebook or record for data collection to keep track of which student goals are being met. The information makes it easier for students to set their own goals and monitor progress with their teacher.

On the Web site,, there is a section where parents can download newsletter and articles to learn about the different components about the CAFE system called the Parent Pipeline. Some of the information on the site does require membership in order to access the articles or videos.

Two student pairs from Goodwin’s second-grade class gave a demonstration on coaching each other, which met applause from the board and those in attendance.

School board member Nick Jurasevich inquired if the system has helped develop healthy relationships amongst the students. Goodwin and MacLaverty said the system has boosted the students’ confidence in themselves and their classmates.

“Their confidence has spurred from it,” said MacLaverty.

Another question came from Marshall who asked if students’ progress is tracked from school year to school year. Goodwin said each classroom is different. Due to time constraints and not wanting to overload her pupils, Goodwin only uses three components in her class while others may have the ability to utilize more.

Goodwin and MacLaverty said they would be eager to see the CAFE program be used at all elementary grade levels, from kindergarten all the way to the sixth grade. They said they have been practicing the methods for nearly a year after learning about the system at a conference at the Northwest Indiana Educational Service Center.

The group plans discussing the management system further during a teacher in-service day in January.

Budget Matters

Superintendent Dirk Baer briefly discussed two matters with the board on Thursday.

Baer said the state is permitting school districts to use a certain percentage of their Capital Projects Fund to be transferred to the school’s General Fund. He asked the board to approve a 5 percent transfer of the CPF money, or $368,610, to the General Fund. With the board’s approval, the transfer will come from the school districts transportation funds.

Baer said he does not have a plan on how to use the money but that the schools will have more options freed up having the extra money in the general fund.

Materials Reconsideration Committee Formed

Also, the board approved another request from Baer to form a new committee that will consider whether a book or video in a school’s library is suitable for school-aged children.

The Materials Reconsideration Committee will investigate any complaints a parent has regarding the suitability of those materials that come into question.

The committee, equally consisting of parents, students, and Duneland Schools staff, already has its nine nominated members lined up. Parents selected are Wendy Scheidt representing the elementary schools, Lori Vincent representing the middle schools, and Deeann Witek representing the high school.

Students nominated to serve on the committee are tenth-grader Hannah VanDrie, eleventh-grader Matt Jones, and twelfth-grader Elena Lutze.

Duneland staff members for the committee are Liberty Intermediate School media specialist Carrie Disney, Chesterton High School teacher Hilda Demuth-Lutze, and Director of Media Services Karla Wilson.



Posted 11/5/2010




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