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Dobbs Ferry's Springhurst Uses 'Cycle' to Improve

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – With a report on the direction of several programs at Springhurst Elementary School, Principal Julia Drake said the focus this year has been on a “continuous cycle of improvement,” which includes new instructional strategies, data talks, revision and course curriculum and program changes.

Springhurst Assistant Principal Lisa Doty said that along with professional development courses teachers have participated in technology courses and cyber bullying courses as part of developing new instructional strategies in the school.

“Learning does not stop after the day,” she said.

Among the programs being experimented within the school is “Chat and Chew,” which Drake described as a sort of book club that is “a wonderful way for these kids to shine.”

“We had a book club conversation one day at lunch,” she said.  “I’m sorry to my adult book club friends, but it was better than any adult conversation I’ve had at my book clubs.  I kid you not I was floored by the contributions these girls were making in our conversation.”

Drake also spoke about the data talks that the school began having this year that include using statistical analysis to create action plans and discussing the results among the teachers of every grade.  Something that Drake said she was very proud of was the use of horizontal and vertical sharing of these findings within the school.

“The horizontal would be you meet with your grade and you talk about how it all went and then we would meet” in kindergarten through fifth-grade “groups and every teacher in every grade would share their action plans and it provided for some really incredible learning opportunities,” she said.  “Kindergarten, first, second-grade teachers were able to do things in the classroom to support needs we were seeing in the upper grades when we really took a holistic view of data and the patterns and trends across years.”

Springhurst has also begun to partner with Mercy College as part of a program to help assess and correct literacy problems in early childhood.

“We are able to provide some of our students with a one of one tutor” with Mercy students, “some of whom are already teaching,” Drake said of the Mercy College students.  “It is a wonderful, free opportunity that we are taking advantage of.”

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