Good Things Are A’ Buzzing at CES!
Clinton Elementary School (CES) holds a special place in my heart. I went to 5th and 6th grades there. I became principal there. I live right across from there. It is more like an old friend than a school. It has a special feel and a wonderfully electric atmosphere.
And their mascot is a Bee (hence, the title “a’ buzzing”) but it is a very appropriate mascot. Bees are social creatures. According to the Mid-Atlantic Apiculture and Extension Consortium, “[B]ees are social insects which mean they live together in large, well-organized family groups. Social insects are highly evolved insects that engage in a variety of complex tasks not practiced by [other] insects.”
Although the faculty, staff and students are certainly not insects, they certainly are a high functioning, family-oriented, well-organized community of learners. Melodie Edwards, principal at CES, states, “The thing that makes our school special is the caring feeling of the entire faculty, staff, and student body. It is a feeling when you walk the halls—hearing the students greeting the adults, adults greeting the students, adults greeting adults…laughter and the excited buzz of learning coming from the classrooms, cafeteria, and all areas of the building.”
CES is known for a loving environment with high expectations. Ms. Edwards continues, “We spend countless hours in conversations and in research trying our best to find ways to help our students. We see rewards all around us as students learn to read and then learn to love reading. We have a deep sense of pride as the soon-to-be graduates of Clinton High come one last time to walk our halls celebrating where they received their start. We are so proud of our role in the educational process.”
Very soon the annual pilgrimage of seniors returning one last time to their elementary homes will occur. Ms. Edwards notes this picture of what their children have become is very inspirational. “We remember them as they were but as students come back one last time we relish in the memories and pictures of the students we’ve taught and that inspires us to keep moving and to keep on pushing to be better. That is what Clinton Elementary is all about! We are a family that has a true belief that we are shaping the future one child at a time.”
Over the past two years, CES has done many things to strengthen the belief of “shaping the future one child at a time.” AVID (Achievement via Individual Determination) is helping students learn how to study, how to organize information, and how to organize their time. Every school in the district is working meticulously to assist all students to be better by taking accountability for their actions and realizing their role in learning. It’s not all up to the teacher. It can’t be done by the teacher and the parent…it must involve the student and revolve around the student. “Shaping the future one child at a time.”
CES now has a National Junior Beta Club, a fully functioning Student Government (like the middle and high schools), and a solid partnership with Presbyterian College and the Confucius Institute. Additionally CES participates with its sister elementary schools in the Healthy Fruits and Vegetables grant, thanks to the partnership between the US Department of Agriculture and our own District Food Service Department.
Ms. Edwards is quick to name many other partnerships as well. “We’re very proud of our partnerships with the community. These include civic clubs, churches, and our local community helpers (e.g., Public and Fire Safety, the mayor, EMS workers, and many city employees,” she said.
CES now has one-to-one technology in fifth grade with the intention to add third and fourth grades next year. The teachers work participate with individualized and personalized professional development in Google Classroom.
Students in the GT program have worked all year in STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) units, specifically robotics. Ms. Edwards openly admits it is the school’s desire to have a fully functioning Robotics Team next year. Further, CES has been selected as one of the new program sites for Project Lead the Way: Launch (the elementary engineering program) for interested students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
As Ms. Edwards looks back on the year, she notes, “Our goal this year was to improve student motivation and engagement. We hired Daniel Dancer, an aerial artist, to work with our students in creative problem solving. Through school-wide collaboration, he helped create a memory that will last a lifetime for our students...an animate bee." Students, teachers, and even district office staff became part of the aerial artwork of CES’s very mascot. In fact, the very mouse pad I have at my computer in my office is the picture of the aerial artistry of the students and staff at CES.
At Clinton Elementary there is now more individualized learning opportunities. By helping students learn how to study and how to hold themselves and others accountable, rigor is increasing and academic growth has improved.
Yes, great things are a’ buzzing at CES.
(Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of School District 56.)