• Category 1

    Selected in 2013

  • Grades: 1 - 6
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 700
    Student Enrollment: 220
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 2%
    White/Caucasian: 63%
    Hispanic: 29%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 6%
    Native American: 0%
    Other: 0%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:15
    % Reduced Lunch: 50%
    % ELL Learners: 1%
    Founded: 1930
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Callista Unruh
  • CONTACT:
    610 Columbia Avenue
    Swink, CO 81077
    719-384-8103
    callista.unruh@swink.k12.co.us
Swink Elementary School
Swink, CO
“ We take every opportunity to make positive phone calls to parents for ALL students for successes in the classroom. Making frequent positive connections with parents about their kids is vital!"
Describe specific programs in place to ensure that families are involved in the success of your school and students.
This past year, teachers, parents, administration and community members got together several times during the year at "Suggestion Forums." They discussed issues, concerns, suggestions and asked questions for better understanding of what was happening at the school. Our school has an "open door" policy, reaching out to parents and community for their input and advise. Our students know that their families support them in all areas because they see them at events, ceremonies, plays, concerts and parent meetings.
Describe the most successful activity your school has initiated to strengthen ties to your community.
We are a small community so the school and its events play a big role in everyday life. Our library is shared with the community and serves a dual purpose of school and public facility. We are good at communicating with parents and community members. We have a school text messaging system that keeps all in the loop of school activities and events. We also send home backpack notes that keep parents involved in their student's school work and homework assignments. We take every opportunity to make positive phone calls to parents for ALL students for successes in the classroom. Making frequent positive connections with parents about their kids is vital! Grandparent Day is held in conjunction with our Book Fair. Elementary students invite a grandparent or grandparent figure to eat lunch with them, tour the classroom and attend the book fair. The pride in our school is evident in the students' excitement and we have great support and participation from our community.
Describe your philosophy of school change or improvement.
School environment is ever-changing just like our world. We should continually reflect and analyze our school as a whole, carefully maintaining and improving all the parts that make up the whole. We must be flexible and willing to try new ideas. However, we should always be referring to credible research-based data to propel us forward. It is our responsibility to make any needed changes for the best of every student.
What are your school’s top two goals for the next year?
1. Continue to close the achievement gap in all subject areas.

2. Strengthen our math curriculum and raise math achievement.
What is the single most important factor in the success of your school that others could replicate?
Staff "buy-in" and fidelity to the programs and strategies implemented in our school is imperative! When you walk into a classroom you must be able to see the initiative in action and see the students successfully engaged in these learning practices. Change takes hard work. Stay the course!
Describe the program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement, including closing achievement or opportunity gaps, if applicable.
It is a combination of programs and strategies that we use that has contributed to our academic success. One of the most important strategies we use in all subject areas is direct and explicit instruction. In reading we supplement with SIPPS, Beck timings for fluency practice, multisyllabic word work and many varied research based practices. Intensive students receive instruction in Read Well and Corrective Reading. Stand Out Math is a visual, oral and kinesthetic way of teaching math vocabulary that has been successful in our school. Although these programs contribute to our academic success, our biggest impact on achievement is the rapport that teachers have with the students. We create close relationships with each of our students, building a foundation for academic success. Students trust and like their teachers and are therefore willing to work hard to achieve the high standards that their teachers set for them.
Explain how Title I funds are used to support your improvement efforts.
We only receive a small amount of Title I funds that pay for .5 FTE staff. Therefore, these funds are leveraged with other sources to provide all of our instruction.
Identify the critical professional development activities you use to improve teaching and student learning.
Job embedded professional development is the most successful. After having Anita Archer conduct a training at our campus, our principal conducted walk throughs looking for the strategies she suggested. Walk through data also provides fodder for future professional development subjects. We have been fortunate to have a School Board that recognizes the importance of all of our staff attending a workshop and hearing the same message. They have allowed us to cancel school when these training opportunities arise. PLC work on early release days is in its fledgling state, but provides teams of teachers to look at data, develop plans for instruction and reflect on their teaching.
Describe how data is used to improve student achievement and inform decision making.
Our team uses data to inform all of our instruction and to push achievement for all. Summative data from our state tests are reviewed at the beginning of the year. We target low scoring standards and make plans to boost that part of our curriculum. DIBELS is used to benchmark and progress monitor our reading instruction. NWEA testing gives us information in literacy and in math and science subject areas. We have students keep track of their own data in all of these subjects. They chart their data and set personal goals. We participate in Data Days several times per year. At these meetings we meet with a team of people to evaluate the interventions that we are doing for a particular child and make changes as necessary. We celebrate successes and buckle down to try new ways to help our students become successful learners.
Describe your school culture and explain changes you’ve taken to improve it.
We are all a team in our school with a like goal of providing the best learning opportunities in the best environment possible. We are blessed to be a small school with smaller classes so that we can develop close relationships with all our students and their families. PBIS has become a vital part of our culture. It has created an environment where students and staff feel safe to learn and can be respected for their own individuality. Common virtues are taught and lived every day by staff and students. Embedded character instruction throughout the school day, explicit instruction and taking advantage of teachable situations has our students and staff working together.
Stats
  • Category 1

    Selected in 2013

  • Grades: 1 - 6
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 700
    Student Enrollment: 220
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 2%
    White/Caucasian: 63%
    Hispanic: 29%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 6%
    Native American: 0%
    Other: 0%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:15
    % Reduced Lunch: 50%
    % ELL Learners: 1%
    Founded: 1930
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Callista Unruh
  • CONTACT:
    610 Columbia Avenue
    Swink, CO 81077
    719-384-8103
    callista.unruh@swink.k12.co.us