Lakeshore Middle School was the latest building the group visited to learn about and see firsthand the ongoing efforts in Grand Haven Area Public Schools. Superintendent Andy Ingall said the tours are a way of providing the community leaders with a deeper look at some of the district’s efforts.
In October, a group of community leaders visited Lake Hills Elementary School.
GHAPS receives Title 2 funding to support professional learning for educators and administrators. This year, the district received about $211,000, which is up from $165,000 previously received. The funding is spent on professional development opportunities in four core areas, said Mary Jane Evink, instructional services director for GHAPS.
Based on research, teacher efficacy has a strong influence on student achievement, Evink said. Professional learning communities are one of the ways the district is working on teacher efficacy.
Lakeshore math teacher Stephanie Egerer said professional learning communities are a great way to check student achievement and share strategies with each other to improve their own teaching methods. She said they share with each other because they want all students to be successful.
“We’re a team,” Egerer said.
The Lakeshore math team has been digging through the curriculum and developing learning targets and assessments.
Science teacher Amy Cahalan said the math team has been working on it longer, but educators in other core subjects are also working together to develop learning targets and assessments.
“We’re seeing progression in student scores,” she said. “It’s helping.”
While students still use pencil and paper, math teacher Melissa Jaeger noted that technology has also helped. Online assessments allow them to see same-day results so that they can immediately begin working with students to help improve their understanding, Egerer said. Students who need additional support receive it during a block of time similar to a homeroom class.
Whether students receive interventions for a few lessons or many, Lakeshore Principal Amanda Sorrelle said that more than half of the school’s seventh- and eighth-graders receive it at some point during the school year.
The community leaders also had a chance to visit several classrooms to see firsthand what Lakeshore students are learning.
In reflecting about the visit, one woman said she liked seeing science classes moving around for activities.
Health Pointe Executive Director Josh Troast noted seeing rules in the classrooms about how they plan to treat their peers.
Central High School Principal Paul Kunde said that while students develop social contracts and actions they plan to be accountable for, the important aspect are the conversations that happen afterward when classrooms reflect about whether they are living out those contracts.