Archived Story

Alternative schedule successful at Sumner

Published 4:33pm Saturday, December 17, 2011

By Sheila Berger

Sumner Elementary School  Principal

Are you aware of what’s happening at Austin Public School’s smallest elementary school?

By the time you read this article, Sumner Elementary will be at the half-way point of their first school year on the new 45/15 calendar. The mid-year assessments are underway and data is being collected to support our first impressions of its success.

Initial observations show students were able to dive into the new content of the curriculum much more quickly than in previous traditional calendar years. Less review time was spent during the initial days of school and the students will have ample opportunity to complete the content required at their grade level. Students and staff have appreciated the three week break in October, which refreshed everyone and allowed much greater focus in the months of November and December.

“So why should a parent consider sending their child to Sumner in the future?” many community members ask me.

I’m excited to explain just why I believe Sumner is the best school around.

—Our students are progressing academically. Sumner was the first school in Austin to not make Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind and has since moved through the stages required by the law. All elementary buildings are not meeting the law’s requirements, with Sumner having less “cells” identified as not making progress than any other elementary school in the city.

—Our students have opportunities to learn about many different cultures. Sumner was the first building in the district to have a significant increase in diversity; however current student percentages mirror that of the Woodson Kindergarten Center. We have a very active Equity Team at Sumner, which enabled us to learn the best instructional strategies. These instructional strategies are now ingrained into daily life at Sumner. Our approach to instruction is based on in-depth training and experience over the last five years.

—Our school is the smallest in the district. Our size offers students an opportunity to create close relationships with staff and other students. Typically there are three sections per grade level, allowing staff and students to create important instructional relationships. Our staff has in-depth knowledge of their students and is best able to plan instruction to match their needs.

—Our school is using a 45/15 calendar. Sumner Elementary has created unique programming to match the needs of our students and families. During the 15 day breaks, Intersession programming is offered for students who need remediation. For the first two weeks of October, about 140 students took part in academic programming. We offer many family-centered activities, like Constellations, which focus on building community relationships with our families.

—Our parents love our school! Lynn Wempner, a Sumner parent, expressed her feelings recently. Mrs. Wempner said: “I agree that Sumner is a great school. It has a very welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff. The teachers care about my children and push them to do their best. My kids love the ‘extras’ such as bingo and pizza nights. We’ve had nothing but great experiences over the past five years.”


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