By Julie Washburn Souza JUN 2012
A strong sense of community and active PTO involvement characterize the atmosphere at Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary School (SHES) in Forsyth. Principal Sharon Binkley Hopper says that parent involvement is paramount to the school’s success. Hubbard is unique, Ms. Hopper says, because students are welcomed, supported, and nurtured by faculty and staff, as well as by numerous parent volunteers. All of these components work together to provide a unique learning experience at the school.
Located in a rural Forsyth community, Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary School serves approximately 581 students in pre-K through fifth grades. Part of the Monroe County public school system, SHES was built in 1994 as a kindergarten through second grade school and was known as Hubbard Primary School. In 2005, SHES added grades pre-K and third through fifth, and became Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary School.
“We have a very active PTO as well as an outstanding parent program,” Ms. Hopper says. “Parents are welcomed to participate in school projects, to volunteer in classroom settings, in learning opportunities and trainings, and on community projects.”
Long time principal Ms. Hopper is retiring this year, and new principal Dr. Marcy Hunt-Harris (pictured on the right) will be taking over for the 2012/2013 school year. This is an exciting time at the school, as Dr. Hunt-Harris prepares to expand and build on the successful programs implemented by Ms. Hopper.
“I am excitedly anticipating taking over July1,” Dr. Hunt-Harris says. “I have had the privilege of working with Ms. Hopper for many years. She is an exceptional educator, and it is a privilege to come behind her.”
Students at Hubbard have a long history of success, and getting parents involved and prepared to help foster and continue classroom learning at home has been key. Dr. Hunt-Harris plans to expand and further encourage parent involvement at the school. During the 2012-2013 school year, Dr. Hunt-Harris plans to offer parents the chance to volunteer both in their own child’s classrooms and in the next grade level. This will help parents become familiar with what their students will be learning the next year.
Community involvement is an important part of the day to day operation at the school. Not only are parents welcomed and encouraged to volunteer and get involved, but representatives from the community also serve the school by volunteering to help at special events like field day, community resource night, career days, and as part of the school’s mentoring program. Several community members who no longer have children in the schools volunteer each year to assist students with learning.
Another unique part of learning at SHES is the integration of technology into classrooms. All homerooms and most of the other classrooms at SHES have active boards. Teachers use the active boards as tools for presentation and instructional purposes. However, students are also involved in technology. Whether students are in pre-K or grade 5, technology is used daily as a learning tool. More and more students at SHES are going on virtual field trips, solving problems and making presentations using this technology.
The school has purchased iPods to be used in classes as student use of technology is expanding rapidly. There is also a new computer lab at the school with laptops used by children in all grade levels. In addition, students can bring electronic reading devices to school with them. Plans are moving forward to incorporate even more devices next year.
An important belief statement at SHES is that “each student can learn, achieve, and succeed.” The emphasis on high achievement begins as early as pre-kindergarten, where students and teachers set individual daily learning goals. The teachers and students meet frequently to review the progress of learning and to adjust or set new goals. This helps each student take responsibility for his/her own learning. This year, Hubbard pre-K and kindergarten students visited Mary Persons High School. They were greeted by the principal, assistant principal, faculty and staff. A tour followed, and the students were encouraged to keep working on their goals of becoming Mary Persons’ Bulldogs and graduate from high school.
More and more teachers at the school are moving towards becoming experts in specific areas of instruction. Hubbard teachers are becoming trained in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) instructional methods. The STEM method emphasizes classroom instruction using hands-on, problem solving activities. Dr. Hunt-Harris plans to expand the STEM program to a point where it is used in all grade levels and all subjects.
“The STEM method,” Dr. Hunt-Harris explains, “is a way to get children to perfect the art of thinking and problem-solving skills.” Rather than just memorizing new concepts, STEM activities encourage kids to apply what they have learned.
Learning opportunities at the school are complimented by an enriching selection of extracurricular clubs and activities. There is a chess club that meets in the early mornings, tumbling club, reading bowl, beta club, and a musical theater production group which presents a large-scale yearly school musical presentation.
Students in the beta club are involved in charitable community outreach projects, including a food drive, caroling at a local nursing home, and a stuffed animal donation program for children in foster care.#