By CRISTINA JANNEY
Lincoln Elementary School is the first school in USD 489 to be part of the Kansas Department of Education school redesign project.
Principal Kerri Lacy updated the Hays school board on the school's progress on the redesign at its meeting on Monday.
The school is building its redesign model. Lacy said COVID in the spring delayed the school's progress in the redesign timeline somewhat.
The four principals of the redesign include building student success skills, creating personalized learning, developing family, business and community partnerships, and using learning models with real-world applications.
"It's everyone's instinct to jump in and say, 'I know this and I know this,' " Lacy said, "but it really made us step back and say, 'What is the root? What is our why? Why do we think redesign is the way to go? Why do we think our families and students deserve this? And why do we think our staff deserves that?'"
The school surveyed its families, students, staff and teachers.
The school learned through those surveys it has a greater language barrier with parents than school officials thought.
Parents indicated they would like a foreign language taught at the school.
That is not possible under the school's current model, but Lacy said it could be possible through the redesign.
The school has a significant number of bilingual students.
Parents also said they were having a hard time helping their students with school work at home. Lacy said the language barrier contributes to this problem.
"The makeup of Lincoln is a lot different than that of the other schools in the district," Lacy said. "We have a lot of Spanish-speaking students."
Parents indicated few complaints with the school, Lacy said.
The survey also indicated students at Lincoln feel safe at school and their teachers are available to help them.
The redesign process is not driven by school or central administration, but by teachers and staff.
The school has established it vision to "Empower students to persevere."
"Relationships, that is our big one. That is No. 1 for Lincoln right now," Lacy said. "We want to build relationships with our families. We want to build relationships with our community.
"When COVID is over, I can't wait to have community members come back in and start being part of our buildings again, presenting to our students again, sharing the knowledge that they have," she said. "There is so much knowledge to be had in our community. [It is hard] for kids to understand that unless you get them in front of that."
The school will continue to focus on social and emotional growth.
"Our kids have more social/emotional needs than they ever have," Lacy said.
Students are learning differently than they did 10 years ago and have different needs, Lacy said.
"I can't expect someone to learn who hasn't had breakfast," she said. "I can't expect someone to learn who is worried about who is going to pick them up from school or where they are going to be tomorrow morning."
Meeting the individual needs of students is a significant aspect of the redesign.
"We might have a kindergartener reading at a second-grade level," Lacy said. "Why are we keeping them in the kindergarten classroom? Sure we can enhance their learning there, but why can't we put them with the second graders while they are doing their reading?"
She continued, "Redesign, to me, I was very scared at first, and now I just can't wait. I can't wait to kick it off. I can't wait to get started and see what we can really do."
The school will be developing its implementation plan for redesign in the coming months and making budgetary decisions. School officials hope to launch the redesign in the next school year.