I received a warm welcome from Principal Jim Verdi and his office staff at Spanish Springs Elementary School. It is always fun to visit elementary schools and see the great work for our younger learners. During my visit, Yellow, Green, and Purple were on track and Blue was off track. Principal Verdi said his staff members, students, and families have adjusted to the Multi-Track Year-Round (MTYR) school calendar and this year has been running smoothly.
It was exciting to visit the students and teachers in their classrooms. There was great learning going on in the classrooms and I enjoyed seeing the flexible seating arrangements in several of the classrooms. The sixth grade students in Raeann Hill’s class were celebrating National Candy Corn Day with a reading assignment and lesson on the history of candy corn. The students were working in their groups to identify interesting facts and categorizing them.
The first grade students in Lucienne Wellman’s class were reading a fun story called “A Bat’s Life.” I sat with several students who read the story to me. They were all very good readers and I enjoyed having them read to me. Each student made and decorated the book so they were all unique and beautiful.
We made a quick stop to say hello to Teresa Graham and her first grade students who were all reading stories. Ms. Graham has worked as a first grade teacher with WCSD for thirty-one years and she started at Spanish Springs Elementary School the day it opened as a new school in 1994. I am sure she has some amazing memories and I truly appreciate her dedication to the students of WCSD.
Brandy Kindred and her third grade students were working on the English Language Arts lesson. Some students were reading independently while others were working in groups on transition words, vocabulary words, and making a timeline of the story. When I talked to students, I asked them about the flexible seating in their classroom. They were great at explaining all the different seating, how they selected their preferred seat, and the attributes of their choice. They were quite animated and excited.
In Amanda Leeper’s fourth grade classroom, the students were all sitting in a big circle doing a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) lesson about self-management. During this teamwork time, students were working collaboratively to build a giant web using a ball of yarn. Students were working on their sharing and listening skills talking about pre-school experiences. After a student talked, they would toss the ball of yarn to a classmate who would share their experience. Students were attentive and discovered that many had similar experiences in pre-school and some classmates had very different experiences. There was a high level of respectful listening and engagement with all of the students.
Afterwards, Principal Verdi and I talked about how all of the Spanish Springs ES teachers are embedding the SEL curriculum into their lessons. We also talked about the high level of family engagement at his school and the successful practice day for Digital School Days they conducted. Every one of our schools is unique and special and it is a true pleasure to learn about the differences and similarities of the schools when I visit with principals.
I ended my visit doing duty in the front of the school with Principal Verdi and Assistant Principal Ginger Selvaggio. It was fun to see the students and families heading home. I was impressed with the orderly and quick way that the students, busses, and cars cleared out. The entire operation was very efficient and safe.
My sincere thanks to the entire staff at Spanish Springs Elementary School for such a wonderful visit at their school. Go Otters!