In cooperation with administrators, teachers and Local School Governance Teams at the three Pepperell area primary schools and Pepperell Elementary, the school system will move the third- grades at McHenry, Midway and Pepperell Primary to Pepperell Elementary next year. There has been much discussion with the Local School Governance Teams (LSGT) of the four schools, (involving parents, teachers and school administrators) about the possible move over the last two months and it was determined that the move of third-grade to Pepperell Elementary would ultimately be beneficial for children, parents, teachers and the schools. "The parents and teachers involved in the LSGTs have been very excited about the possibilities the move of third grade can have for children," said Jeff McDaniel, superintendent of Floyd County Schools. "Each Local School Governance Team embraced the move as good for the children and parents of the community."
The move will give children, parents and teachers an opportunity to improve relationships at a key time in a child’s academic and social development. Positives identified by parents and teachers in L included: more time to build relationships before the middle school years; the state testing focus of third grade would move to Pepperell Elementary; and elementary teachers would benefit from getting to know more about the academic strengths and challenges of students before they leave for middle school.
Administrators, teachers and parents have voiced concerns for many years about having only two years at Pepperell Elementary. It has been recognized that the short time together for students made it difficult for children to bond with new peers from the three primary schools before entering the middle school years. Parents also expressed concerns of having just two years at the school and how challenging it is for parents to be involved because their children transition through the elementary school so quickly. Adding a third year at Pepperell Elementary will address these concerns by allowing more time to strengthen social bonds for children before middle school while also providing opportunities to enhance parental involvement. "I wish my child had been able to experience three years at Pepperell Elementary," commented Damon Kirkpatrick, a community representative on the Pepperell Elementary Local School Governance Team and a parent of a PES fifth grader, during an LSGT meeting.
Parents and teachers also recognized positive aspects of moving state testing from the primary schools to Pepperell Elementary. Third grade is the only grade level involved in state testing in the primary schools. Moving the process to a school already involved in fourth and fifth-grade testing will provide more focus on the testing process and remove the structure of state testing from the primary schools.
Pepperell Elementary teachers and staff will also gain another year to work with children on their academic development. The extra time will allow teachers more opportunities to assess the strengths and challenges of each child. The extra time will assist teachers in developing plans to best challenge each child to reach their highest potential before moving into the difficult transition of middle school. "We hate to see our second-graders leave us, but looking at the big picture, the move will be good for children," commented Jenni Cunningham, principal of McHenry Primary.
Second-grade children and parents will have opportunities to learn more about the move and get acquainted with the facility and staff at Pepperell Elementary before the end of this school year. There will be a question and answer meeting at the three primary schools on Monday, March 24 at 6 p.m. All parents are encouraged to attend the meeting at their school. There will also be a special Third-grade Family Night held at Pepperell Elementary School on Tuesday, April 29 to welcome parents and children. All parents are encouraged to bring their children to meet teachers and tour the school. The upcoming Fourth-grade Family Night will be held on Thursday, May 1 at 6 p.m. at Pepperell Elementary.
Pepperell Elementary will also add the upcoming third-graders to their annual tour and orientation of upcoming students traditionally held to welcome the new fourth-graders to the school. The tours will begin at 9 a.m. each day.
The annual tour schedule will be:
Monday, April 28: McHenry and Midway upcoming third-graders will visit.
Tuesday, April 29: Pepperell Primary upcoming third-graders will visit.
Wednesday, April 30: McHenry and Midway upcoming fourth-graders will visit.
Thursday, May 1: Pepperell Primary upcoming fourth-graders will visit.
There will be adjustments in the transition of third-grade to Pepperell Elementary. Bus schedules and routes will be altered; traffic patterns around the elementary will be refined; playgrounds, books in the media center and resources at the elementary school will be readied for the younger children; and lunch schedules at Pepperell Elementary will be adapted to handle the new grade level. The elementary school will also arrange classrooms so that each grade level will have its own hall next year. "There will be much to do before the beginning of school in the fall, but with all four schools, the school system, parents and the community working together, the transition can be very positive for the children moving to third-grade next school year," McDaniel added.
"The Pepperell Elementary facility was originally built for third, fourth and fifth-grade children in the Pepperell area," stated Sam Sprewell, chief of operations for Floyd County Schools. The third-grade was not included when the school was opened due to the number of children in the community at that time. Sprewell added, "The move of third-grade to Pepperell Elementary completes the picture that was originally envisioned when the school was planned for the community." Shelley Bell, principal of Pepperell Elementary is looking forward to adding the third-grade at her school. She said, "The PES building has the classrooms and space to welcome third-grade to the Pepperell Elementary family and the teachers are excited about the academic possibilities for children."