• Category 2

    Selected in 2018

  • Grades: 5 - 8
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 2,444
    Student Enrollment: 279
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 0.7%
    White/Caucasian: 83.2%
    Hispanic: 7.5%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0.4%
    Native American: 1.8%
    Other: 6.5%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:15.4
    % Reduced Lunch: 55.9%
    % ELL Learners: 1.8%
    Founded: 2001
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Kenny Holland
  • CONTACT:
    603 Division Street
    Lavaca, AR 72941
    479-674-5618
    kenny.holland@lavacaschools.com
Lavaca Middle School
Lavaca, AR
“Preparing Minds that Think, Hearts that Care, and Hands that Serve."
Describe the most successful activity your school has initiated to strengthen ties to your community.
Lavaca Middle School hosts an Open House night each fall before the beginning of school. During this time the teachers strive to make the first contact with parents a positive one. Guest speakers from the community address students and share their experiences from small business to job applications. Several projects have included collecting food and items for both the Human Society as well as the local Food Bank. LMS also participates in the “Adopt a Professor” program provided by the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Math/Science and Literacy/Social Studies night is provided each semester involving projects that parents and students work together to complete. Also a “Joint Use” agreement has been established that involves the Lavaca Little League Basketball program.
Describe your school culture and explain changes you’ve taken to improve it.
Our schools mission statement is “Preparing Minds that Think, Hearts that Care, and Hands that Serve.” Students had the opportunity to provide personal care items to Maggie House, a foster home in a neighboring town. Boxes were delivered to the center. It is important to increase the awareness of community needs while living out our school mission of ‘hearts that care’. I think we improved on this by collecting items for the food pantry and humane society. This is the core of our beliefs and we work to instill these values in our students each day. Because people make the difference in success or failure, we constantly seek teachers and staff that share our same mindset about educating the “whole” child and desire for teamwork and collaboration. We work hard to create an environment that is based on the sense of family to retain the best employees in our building. It is the people that work with the students each day that is key behind the success of our school.
Describe how data is used to improve student achievement and inform decision making.
The teachers and administrators at LMS utilize a wide-range of data to improve instruction and student achievement. Data is what drives how we provide the most effective and appropriate instruction to the student. Data is disaggregated to determine our strengths and weaknesses. Students receive three interim assessments for mastery of current learning objectives. STAR assessments provide a vertical assessment and alignment district-wide. It allows us to monitor classes, subpopulations, and individual students. This data helps identify students who need more intensive intervention. Teachers utilize additional formative assessment data to familiarize themselves with the students assigned to them. Teachers have access to each student's cumulative record and have professional conversations with previous teachers. Every member of the instructional team has a voice and these exchanges lead to more specific and authentic instruction.
Describe the program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement, including closing achievement or opportunity gaps, if applicable.
The Lavaca Middle School team works to provide individualized instruction for students to reach achievement through academic, social, and emotional interventions. Data analysis and teacher collaboration has been the main reasons for placing students in an optimal learning environment. The use of multiple sources of data allows the LMS staff to have a specific focus when designing individual instructional improvement plans.
Explain how ESEA federal funds are used to support your improvement efforts.
Planning is an important piece of using Title I funds. This planning requires the LMS team to assess the supplemental needs regarding curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development, and instructional supplies. Title I funds are allocated in several areas based on student and teacher need. These funds support after school tutoring and reading intervention. Implementation of the reading intervention is done with fidelity and Title I funds purchase student and teacher materials. Title I funding enabled LMS to provide technology as an educational learning tool to supplement current instruction within the classrooms.
Describe your philosophy of school change or improvement.
At Lavaca Middle School, the belief is that for change to take place, there should be a specific need. Our teachers and interventionists seek new technology and programs that fill in any gaps that have been identified through data disaggregation and perceptual surveys. Additionally, if we determine that a new program is necessary to meet our students’ needs, we conserve any part of the previous program that we see value in and incorporate it with the new program.
Sometimes that change is directed within. It may mean that in order for change to take place, we need to look at ourselves and be willing to reflect on what is best for students. We have to be willing to have the tough conversations about student learning and teaching. We must agree as a body of educators that we will do what is in the best interest of all students and that we are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
Identify the critical professional development activities you use to improve teaching and student learning.
Lavaca Middle School is an integral part of a district that provides targeted professional development opportunities to impact and support student learning. Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS), the embedded training through professional learning communities (PLC's) and on-site support via classroom walkthroughs has been instrumental in teacher influence. Teachers are required to look at their individual professional growth plans and engage in professional development opportunities that will allow them to become better at their profession. The most effective and sustaining professional development is embedded and ongoing. A good example of that is our current Professional Learning Communities which allows us to continue with an exchange of ideas and strategies that can be used with our students ultimately to improve teaching and student learning.
Describe specific programs in place to ensure that families are involved in the success of your school and students.
Our school uses Remind to communicate important events or assignments to parents. Facebook pages are used to share activities and photographs. Parent Involvement Nights, such as our Social Studies/Literacy and Math/Science nights, and Spring Carnival, encourage community participation. Every activity was based on academic standards; eSchool, HAC is another tool that is used to provide parents with the most current information about their child’s grades and attendance. We also have a very strong and active LMS Booster Club which provides ample opportunities for parents and family members to participate in school events. We have two scheduled parent/teacher conferences (one in the fall and one in the spring) in which parents and teachers discuss student progress. Teachers communicate with parents via email, texts, phone, and notes, to keep them informed of upcoming classroom events, assignments and progress.
What is the single most important factor in the success of your school that others could replicate?
After ensuring that we have the best possible people on our staff, the single most important factor in our success is holding students accountable for their education at their ability levels. This goes back to the quality of the people you hire, the vision we all share, and a culture to expect excellence. The most important factor in the success of Lavaca Middle School is the foundation of being a data driven school. The master schedule plays a pivotal role which includes double blocking of math and literacy. The continuous review of data and adjusting current systems leads to the development of individualized student instruction which strengthens achievement. This data is used to place students into interventions for literacy and math. Another important factor in the success of our school is building positive relationships. We have strong and positive relationships staff to staff, staff to student, staff to parent and school to community.
What are your school’s top two goals for the next year?
Our first goal is to provide authentic and engaging instruction for students to help them improve on standardized testing in reading and math whether they are the struggling student or the high achieving student. Our second goal is to continue meeting in professional learning communities which will allow us to focus on student learning and teaching. Additionally, we want to foster a life-long love of reading. We will create a community literacy connection to increase authentic reading engagement. We will increase our students’ opportunities for reading, discussion, and activities through after-school book clubs targeting students who struggle in reading.
Stats
  • Category 2

    Selected in 2018

  • Grades: 5 - 8
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 2,444
    Student Enrollment: 279
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 0.7%
    White/Caucasian: 83.2%
    Hispanic: 7.5%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0.4%
    Native American: 1.8%
    Other: 6.5%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:15.4
    % Reduced Lunch: 55.9%
    % ELL Learners: 1.8%
    Founded: 2001
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Kenny Holland
  • CONTACT:
    603 Division Street
    Lavaca, AR 72941
    479-674-5618
    kenny.holland@lavacaschools.com