Preschool Explorer’s Academy expansion discussed

Outlook staff writer

At Monday’s school board meeting at Laurel High School, LHS Principal Shawnda Zahara gave a presentation on the schools annual goals and shared what some of the classes are doing.

School goals for the year include a 3 percent decrease in the number of students appearing on the Early Warning System list from this fall to next spring. She hopes to achieve this through the creation of support teams who understand how a student makes the list. Staff will then create support team plans for the at-risk students.

The high school is focusing on behavioral goals which include increasing attendance and being on time. The school theme for October was “Be responsible, take ownership and be honest.” For November the theme is “Be responsible, show up, be on time and be prepared for class.”

She said the ProStart program (of which students served four types of mac and cheese, salad and raspberry lemonade prior to the meeting) is expanding, and seven regional chefs have offered to mentor students. 

Zahara said Industrial Arts instructor Joseph May worked with tech students to build steps to help the kindergartners reach the smart boards at South School. She said the students knew they were helping other kids in the district.

LHS business teacher Lisa Condon showed how the “stock market game” works in the business classes and discussed the benefits to students.

Then, Explorers Academy (formerly Head Start) Executive Director Jennifer Owen gave a presentation about a new 18-month pilot program funded by the state legislature in January. This would expand the current program in Laurel by adding 18 four-year-olds to the current enrollment of 48 children.

The Explorers Academy is a full-day program that runs seven hours a day and four days a week helping students who are at or below the poverty level and those with health or family problems to prepare for success in school and in life.

The Explorers Academy currently meets in the administration building and Owen hopes to put two self-contained modulars by South School to house all 66 students in four classrooms, with two instructors per room.

She stressed that this would cost the district nothing. “We would handle transportation and food and hire and train our own staff,” she said.

Owen said being close to the South School kindergarten will help the pre-schoolers forge bonds and make the transition easier for them as they enter primary school.

Superintendent Linda Filpula suggested scheduling a district facilities meeting to discuss the matter further. Board member concerns included increased traffic and parking and where the modulars would be located.

The Board also discussed community outreach and how they could let the public know about happenings in the school district. Suggestions included a Facebook page and a meeting summary written by board members

In other business:

• The LHS girls soccer team was recognized for their state championship title and Head Coach Aloma Jess for her Coach of the Year award.

• LHS junior Levi Taylor was recognized for his individual State Championship title in cross country. It was the first individual cross country title for Laurel in a decade.

• Daniel Porisch was hired for the half-time assistant speech and drama coach for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year. Forty students are involved this year and there wasn’t enough individual time allowed for the students with only two coaches. Porisch was working as a volunteer and Athletic Director Roger Heimbigner said he does a great job and will be a welcome addition to the program.

• Ron Yost was hired for the groundskeeping position. Facilities Director Ken Hoiness said Yost is a Laurel graduate and longtime resident of Laurel who manages and operates a snow removal business and said he will be a good addition to the maintenance crew.

• Karrie Jorgenson was hired as substitute staff for Laurel Schools.

• Chucody McNiven was hired as a substitute bus driver for the school district.

There were no action items.


Upcoming Events

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