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‘We believe in every single student’

Krystle Wagner • Oct 24, 2018 at 10:00 AM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — As Lake Hills Elementary School kindergartners studied the letter “H” on Tuesday, a group of adults watched how the students learned.

Throughout the 2018-19 school year, various community leaders will visit four schools to learn about ongoing efforts happening within Grand Haven Area Public Schools. On Tuesday, they learned about and saw firsthand the efforts happening at Lake Hills.

In the past several years, Lake Hills has gone from being identified as a Focus School to becoming a Reward School. Most recently, the elementary school was named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Principal Jason Lawson said the staff is committed to doing “whatever it takes” to ensure their students succeed.

“We believe in every single student,” he said.

In addition to working on initiatives, Lawson said they’ve worked on building relationships because it creates a strong foundation.

Lake Hills is one of the district’s three schools that receive Title 1 funding, said GHAPS Director of Instructional Services Mary Jane Evink. The funding is used specifically to help students who aren’t performing at their grade level.

One of the ways Lake Hills helps students is through “W.I.N. Time,” which stands for “What I Need Time.” They receive targeted interventions aimed at meeting their needs to help them become proficient.

Gina Gancarz, a literacy coach for the school, said recent research shows that the No. 1 influence on student learning is teacher efficacy. As a team, educators look at what students need to learn and how they can work together to make that possible.

While they’ve experienced positive test results, Gancarz said the most important thing is that students are happy, healthy and productive when they leave the Grand Haven school district.

After learning about the efforts, the community leaders group had a chance to see those efforts in action.

Lauren Eisnor’s kindergarten class showcased how they learn phonics and second-graders showed how their individual literacy needs are met during their block intervention time.

Larson said the work happening to educate children was fun and a great way to keep students engaged.

Given the way lessons were delivered in a “fun” way, local business owner Kelly Larson said it seemed like the students didn’t realize they were learning.

“It’s impressive,” she said.

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