GFM MAY 2016
Twenty-seven years ago, the Houston County Board of Education cast a vision for the future and created Northside Elementary School (NES) to serve the students in the northern part of the county. With the population growth at that time, additional classrooms were needed to serve that area of the community. The faculty, students, and parents work together as a team to ensure success for each individual student, as evidenced by the school being named a Georgia Title I Reward School in the area of Highest Progress, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)-certified by the Georgia Department of Education this school year.
Northside Elementary is a rural, Title I school located on a road that literally goes nowhere. The school is determined that its students will not be defined by this. Students are on a path that leads to higher education and employment. “Our high expectations of our students, families, and ourselves are the keys to our success,” states principal Jodi Clark. “We are blazing the trail with STEM and leaving a path for others to follow.”
Currently, Northside Elementary serves 460 Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade students from very diverse backgrounds. Through a grant obtained by the Houston County Board of Education’s School Nutrition Department, 100% of Northside’s students enjoy a free breakfast and lunch every school day.
“We are breaking down barriers and setting students up for success on a daily basis,” said Clark, who has served as principal for eight years. A product of the Houston County School System, Clark graduated from Warner Robins High School. She earned a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of Georgia (UGA), a master’s degree from Georgia Southwestern, and a specialist degree in educational leadership from UGA . With close to 30 years of service in the field of education, she will retire at the end of this school year. David Sams, Assistant Principal for Instruction, has been named the new principal beginning July 2016.
Clark commented, “Teamwork is essential to the success of our school. Parents, students, and staff work hard to ensure that each student not only learns, grows, and achieves—but also feels safe, secure, and successful in our environment. Our goal is to break the cycle of generational poverty.
Three years ago, NES embarked on the journey to obtain STEM certification. STEM has pushed the school to a new level of learning, problem solving, and understanding, while engaging our students in authentic learning experiences in the STEM areas.
State School Superintendent Richard Woods recognized Northside Elementary in April as the 29th elementary school in the state to earn STEM certification. One hundred percent of NES students are involved in STEM activities, which integrate reading, language arts, math, and science standards across the curriculum. The technology and engineering components of STEM teach Engineering Design Process (EDP). EDP activities stress a flexible process that takes students from identifying a problem to creating and developing multiple research-based solutions. A science wet-lab enables hands-on activities. Bring Your Own Device, iPads, Smartboards, and other technology are provided for students’ research and development.
Throughout the three-year certification process, the school partnered with several local businesses to provide real-world problems for students to solve. Perdue Farms, the Georgia Farm Bureau, Robins Air Force Base, the Museum of Aviation, and Raytheon helped train teachers in the area of science, engineering, and math. They also volunteered to teach students each month, helping the children make the connections between the academics learned in class and jobs done at these businesses.
Northside Elementary provides many extracurricular activities for the upper grades. Weekly meetings take place for The Academic Bowl Team and Science Olympiad, which won the district competition two years in a row as well as the Middle Georgia RESA competition. They will advance to the state competition to be held later his month.
In addition, Northside teachers remain focused on diagnosing what the individual student needs in each subject, communicating this with the student and parent, and planning strategic lessons tailored for the student. This fosters a level of trust and teamwork like no other. “We begin in Pre-K, preparing our students for higher levels of learning and behavior,” says Clark. “Our procedures provide a safe environment so that every student can learn. Keeping it simple, focused, and authentic helps our staff and students become successful in everything that we do.”
The mission of Northside Elementary is to produce respectful, lifelong learners. “We truly believe this statement and also feel very strongly about our motto, ‘Building Our Future . . . One Child at a Time,’” says Clark.
“Each year, the staff updates the belief statements to make them applicable to our school. Parents are provided an opportunity to give feedback on these statements as well as school practices and procedures.
“The school’s belief statements include:
- We will provide a safe and supportive environment where students are treated with respect and compassion.
- Student learning is the chief priority for our school.
- We value the unique physical, social, emotional, and intellectual characteristics of our students and provide services that will enable each child to reach their highest academic potential.
- We take responsibility for learning, not only for our students but also for ourselves.
- A family and community partnership is vital to the success of our students.”
Clark in summary states, “In today’s global economy and constantly changing environment, we prepare our students to meet the challenges head on and work through problems that may occur in a collaborative way.”
The school invites you to call to set up a time to see what they do at NES. #
305 Sullivan Road
Warner Robins, GA 31093