Intermediate school charts strategy for continued success

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Tiefort View Intermediate School at Fort Irwin hosted a strategic planning meeting with school district officials, administrators, teachers, students and parents, Feb 19.

The meeting served as a collaboration and brain-storming session at the local level within the Silver Valley Unified School District, which manages seven schools in the high desert. Three of those schools are located within the garrison of the National Training Center; the district’s Silver Valley High School, in Yermo, Calif., serves most high-school aged students of this military installation.

The school district has implemented a strategy for its schools that encompasses four pillars, or priorities, which are: student achievement, technology, student/parent support and fostering a culture of excellence leading to district stability.

Jeff Youskievicz, assistant superintendent of educational services with SVUSD, stated the four areas fall under the district’s’ local control and accountability plan (LCAP) the state of California has requested of all districts in the state. The LCAP is tied directly to state funding for school districts.

At the TVIS meeting, four presentations were conducted that explained the school’s methods and future plans for: technology, parent and community involvement, response to intervention (RTI), and positive behavior interventions and support (PBIS). The attendees then provided input in the form of recommendations for additional directions in which the school can take, said Cameron Smart, senior director of student services with SVUSD.

The principal, Aubrey Zucco, stated that PBIS is a program that aims at changing a way of thinking to influence behavior. It includes wording phrases in positive terms and informing students of expectations that are desired and letting them achieve those levels of expectations.

The PBIS program at TVIS is called SHARP for safe, honest, accountable, respectful and positive.

Smart explained a goal of SHARP is to set positive expectations and then work to motivate and recognize students when they’re meeting the expectations rather than waiting for undesired behavior and applying consequences.

The strategy meeting recommended to include additional information for parents in a monthly newsletter distributed by the TVIS Parent Teacher Organization, said Zucco. That will include PBIS techniques that can be used at home, more information about school activities, and a link to a technology website. One overall theme included the importance of reaching out to families (the school already holds “Parents Advocating Student Success” meetings at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays).

“Between our four presentations and the feedback we got from the students and the parents – we are doing things well,” Zucco said.

The proof is also in the statistics. Smart opened the meeting with a briefing on the academic achievement of TVIS and SVUSD, compared to other schools and districts during 2014-15. The intermediate school ranked highest in English Language Arts and math scores, under California Smarter Balanced Assessments, among nine school districts in the high desert; SVUSD ranked highest, as well, and also ranked at the top in the county and state.

“We, our teachers, support staff and students, did an amazing … preparing our students, getting them ready, teaching the new common course standards,” Youskievicz said.

Youskievicz stressed that doing well in exams is not the only objective at school.

“It’s not just about preparing for the test, it’s about preparing them for the next step,” Youskievicz said. “Whether it’s the next grade level, getting into college, a career – getting them that exposure, that’s what this is about. It’s exposing and getting them ready for life after this.”

Youskievicz conveyed the value of holding strategy summits (one SVUSD school meets every month).

“People say ‘How do you decide what you do?’ It’s meetings like this that help us decide which direction our programs take, and [what are] the needs of the parent and the needs of the student.”