Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Overton Elementary School

I presented Principal Gilbert Hicks with the “Recognized” banner for Overton Elementary School. It’s always a joy to be at Overton. They are so happy to have the sixth graders too. Mr. Hicks told me about the school’s work to instill college preparation in the minds of scholars and to focus on reading. We walked the hall of expectations where all the standards for the school are clearly illustrated in multiple ways so that scholars, parents, teachers, and visitors know exactly what they need know and do while at Overton. I very much appreciated a bulletin board that had real clothes pinned to the board so that everyone knew what the uniform was suppose to look like. It questioned, “Are you in dress code today?” One would know clearly if he or she was or was not. What I like is that the expectations are clear so that there is no guessing as to what the outcomes will be. Performance charts for college readiness connected elementary school work to what college ready standards. Scholars and their families will know exactly when they are on or off track for college long before it is too late to intervene.  

What is particularly nice along the halls is TEACHER work next to the SCHOLAR work. Scholars see what their teachers do in professional development as well. And, they have fun too! There is a very humorous poster of the principal designed as Captain America but called “Captain Achievement” so that it could demonstrate and emphasize positive character traits of the principal. Great modeling for the scholars!

We then visited the ELL classroom of Overton Teacher of the Year, Brian Hill, who I adore. He is a wonderful teacher and, of course, a Teacher of the Year for the school. The scholars serenaded me with the school’s spirit song – without provocation from their teacher. Clearly, scholars know how to lead the class too.  I talked with the class about the importance of reading and asked them to make the following commitments: 1. Go to bed by 7 pm – less TV/cell phone monitor time; 2. Read at least 20 books in the summer – and continue reading throughout the school year; 3. Go to college. 

The school is also piloting more work in single gender classrooms. The boys only had good things to say about their experience. It was a very interesting discussion with scholars in Pauline Pavilica’s 5th grade, all-boys classroom. Overton also has an all-girls 5th grade class. These are the first single-gender classrooms in any elementary school in AISD. The scholars in Ms. Pavlica’s class told me, that in this all-boys class, they “build closer and tighter relationships with each other;” there are “less distractions;” “it’s easier to learn without girls talking to us;” and “it’s easier to work with another boy in teams.”

The Overton Bulldogs rock! Congratulations to the whole school. This is just wonderful school.