Written by Loren Hershberger, principal
Each year, the Indiana Department of Education presents Four Star School Awards to schools that perform in the upper 25th percentile in performance on the ISTEP+ and End-of-Course Assessment state exams, as well as its national No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress rating.
For the past eight years, Northview Elementary School has been fortunate to receive this Four Star School Award; however, test scores and academic achievements are not the only factors deciding what is best for students.
A primary reason Northview is experiencing success is due to the focus on many aspects of each individual student.
First, the staff works hard to meet the academic needs of all students. "Late Start Wednesdays" and other teacher plan times help facilitate staff collaboration. Teachers and instructional aides dissect relevant data and observations to diagnose skill areas that need focused instruction for students. Lessons are developed to meet individual learning styles.
Students who struggle to make progress are given additional small-group or individual help in an effort to provide them with enhanced learning opportunities. The VU Study Buddy Program also allows Northview to give students additional support in an after-school setting.
The Study Buddy Program is made available through Valparaiso University and under the direction of Del Gillispie. Through the program, university students meet with their Northview "buddies" in a tutoring and mentoring relationship.
Various opportunities are offered to students to help promote positive self-esteem, a sense of belonging and pride in their school as well as in their own abilities. Northview believes facilitating this aspect of the whole child is a very important ingredient in their success.
One of the programs that makes this possible is a gardening group led by the school social worker, Becky Kirkpatrick. This group is made up of students who agree to give up a portion of their recesses to participate in a series of activities that, among other things, has made significant improvements to one area of the school yard.
Throughout the various seasons of the year, students apply the lessons from their gardening to issues of self-esteem they may face. One of the many benefits of this program is watching the students' self-esteem grow just like the plants they tend.
Another opportunity for building a sense of community ownership is the K-Kids Club, sponsored by the Valparaiso Sunrise Kiwanis. This club actively pursues service projects to empower these young students to make a difference locally and throughout the world.
These are just two examples of the many opportunities Northview offers students to help them broaden their learning and enhance their feelings about themselves and their contributions to the community.
Northview continues to excel in part due to the belief that academic growth is directly affected by the numerous characteristics that make up each individual child. Remembering that each student has an exclusive story helps the Northview staff guide each student to learn in the most effective manner possible.