• Category 1

    Selected in 2017

  • Grades: k - 5
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 0
    Student Enrollment: 0
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 10%
    White/Caucasian: 64%
    Hispanic: 17%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0%
    Native American: 0%
    Other: 7%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:17
    % Reduced Lunch: 63%
    % ELL Learners: 13%
    Founded: 1950
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Vickie Smith
  • CONTACT:
    180 Union School Road
    Shallotte, NC 28470
    910-579-3591
    vsmith@bcswan.net
Union Elementary School
Shallotte, NC
“We hold high expectations for our students and scaffold their instruction to help them achieve their goals. "
Describe the most successful activity your school has initiated to strengthen ties to your community.
Our school hosts over 130 volunteers from the community that share our philosophy that our children come first. From the smiles, there is not doubt they enjoy volunteering to read, eat lunch, and work with students on science, multiplication facts, and sight words. Our Watch D.O.G.S (Dads of Great Students) program has drawn more male volunteers into our school as they volunteer at least one entire day per school year. Most get addicted and end up coming for 2-3 days, Our Canine Angel therapy dogs come in each week to read with our 2nd graders.Our children love reading to their four legged friends! We work with Wings Ministry program and provide more than 25 students in our school with a backpack of food to take home each week. In return, we hold a food drive annually to give back to this ministry that helps feed our children.
We host a Union Eat Out Night at one of our local restaurants monthly, Families and school staff gather together to eat and fellowship.
Describe your school culture and explain changes you’ve taken to improve it.
Upon arriving at Union 10 years ago, I began sewing a culture of collaboration by building relationships. We began changing the culture of the school with our words and actions. I coined the phrase"The Sun is Always Shining at Union" and pretty soon, everyone believed it. Some examples are:
❖ Seasonal decorations
❖ New Member lunch
❖ STAFF and STUDENT Pictures on Display
❖ Jean Passes
❖ Sharing staff recognition
❖ Encouragement for Good Attendance
❖ Staff Appreciation Luncheons & gifts
❖ Kind Texts, Emails, or Phone Calls
❖ Open Door Policy
❖ PBIS celebrations
We began building leadership capacity in our students by providing them with extra-curricular activities such as: Student Council, Writing Club, Dolphin Dash Running Club, Union Chorus, Science Olympiad Team, and Battle of the Books Team. Students now lead school-wide activities such as a mock elections and community outreach projects. We have managed to instill dolphin pride in our students and staff.

Describe how data is used to improve student achievement and inform decision making.
Our teachers plan rigorous lessons and use a variety of methods to meet the diverse needs of our students and make learning engaging and fun. During their PLCs they analyze the data from mClass, RtA NC Check Ins, and Common Formative Assessments Differentiation is provided when students are ability grouped and participate in guided reading and guided math groups daily. In addition, they are provided interventions in the area of concern and are progress monitored and regrouped according to their needs. We utilize our Problem Solving Team, which meets 2 hours or more each week with parents and teachers,to problem solve ways to help students academically and behaviorally. We utilize our behavior specialist to assist and support us with our severe behavior issues. Our School Improvement and PBIS teams meet monthly to discuss trend data and review our school's improvement plan.
Describe the program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement, including closing achievement or opportunity gaps, if applicable.
Our school's search for a guided reading program ended when we found the Jan Richardson Guided Reading Model. Since teachers use these specific strategies, we have seen significant progress in reading and writing which is evident in our mClass data and end of grade test scores. Students are grouped according to their reading level and meet with the teacher daily for reading. writing, and word work. Teachers are able to immediately recognize if students don't have or aren't utilizing their reading strategies and can immediately reteach. The individual needs of students are met and teachers make anecdotal notes of their progress. Differentiation is the key to helping students learn to read.
Explain how Title I funds are used to support your improvement efforts.
We utilize our Title 1 funds to hire teachers in order to lower classroom sizes. Our students receive more individualized attention and quality instruction due to our low teacher/student ratio.
Currently, we are paying 3 teachers from our Title 1 funds.
Another use of our funding is to provide a Parent Facilitator/Volunteer Coordinator for our school. Since we have over 130 volunteers in our school, our volunteer coordinator is vital. She works hard to recruit and train volunteers for our classrooms.
Volunteers perform a variety of tasks from working with students one on one to being a lunch buddy or supporting teachers by performing clerical duties such as making copies or hanging bulletin boards.
Describe your philosophy of school change or improvement.
Due to our mindset shift from me to we, our staff now works together to go above and beyond to ensure that all students are successful through the use of high time on task and student centered lessons. We hold high expectations for our students and scaffold their instruction to help them achieve their goals. Our entire staff plays a part in the education of our students. We strive to educate the hearts and minds of our students through PBIS. There's no mistaking the family atmosphere in our school. Friendly faces greet every student in the car rider line or bus parking lot to wish them a great day or safe travels home.


as well as ensuring they have access to the latest technology including smartboards, ipads, and mobile chromebook labs for grades K-1. With the help of our wonderful PTO, we purchased a chromebook for every student in grades 2-5 in order to enhance their learning.
Identify the critical professional development activities you use to improve teaching and student learning.
Our teachers were trained in the Jan Richardson Guided Reading Model as well as Math Foundations and Guided Math Groups. We have that through differentiation and teaching students in small groups, we are able to meet the diverse needs of every student.
During guided math, students are able to learn new concepts and use manipulatives in a small group setting. Teachers can group them by specific skills and are able to identify misconceptions and can quickly reteach to prevent students from practicing the "wrong" way.
Describe specific programs in place to ensure that families are involved in the success of your school and students.
Our school has an open door policy and parents are welcome and encouraged to be a part of their child's education. We host awards day programs as well as fall festival, bingo night, Mother's Day Tea, and community Color Runs (5K) to invite parents into our school to see the wonderful things that are happening. Parents are also able to get a glimpse into their child's day by logging on to our school website and Facebook page and viewing pictures that are posted daily by our parent facilitator.

In addition to the community support listed above, I think it's important to note that our community support also comes in the way of financial donations. The amount of financial support we receive from corporate sponsorships ($24,000 in 2016), churches, even the ABC store enables us to stay up to date with the latest technology as well as playground equipment and other extras for the students like classroom newspapers, educational technology programs and resources for classrooms.
Our PTO strengthens our relationships with the community -as they reach out for support for our school through their fall festival and other events that raise revenue and increase parent support at school.
What is the single most important factor in the success of your school that others could replicate?
The main factor in our school's success is the quality of our staff. Every staff member, from the teachers and assistants to the front office staff, from the custodians to the cafeteria workers, works hard and truly cares about our children. I have said before that our staff is golden. According to our Teacher Working Conditions Survey, teachers are Union are very happy and feel supported which attributes to our low teacher turnover rate (8%). Normally teachers only leave if they retire or move away. Our highest scores on the TWC survey were in the areas of maintaining a clean school, having sufficient access to instructional technology, maintaining clear and two way communication with the community, providing parents with information about their student’s learning, community support, consistently enforcing rules for student conduct, safe environment, encouraging teachers to be leaders, being problem solvers, maintaining an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect in the school, holding high expectations for our teachers, using data to improve learning, providing teachers valuable feedback,, recognizing staff accomplishments, protecting instructional time, reflection on our practice, requiring students to work hard, access to instructional supplies including digital resources, and our school being a good place to be. Our scores in every single category went up from 2014-2016. Other teacher data to consider: 80% of our teachers have been teaching ten or more years. I feel their experience is an asset for our students. It’s important to note that 33.3% of our teachers have a masters degree and 25% of our teachers are national board certified,. According to EVAAS growth data, 34% of our teachers are blue (exceed growth), 65% of our teachers are green (met growth) and less than 1% of our teachers are red (does not meet growth ) in their overall composites. Union has 42% of our teachers who exceeded in at least 1 subject last year as our 3rd and 4th grade teachers are self contained and teach all subjects. All of our teachers are highly qualified and hold high expectations for all students. High quality instruction is obvious as our teachers go above and beyond to put the latest technology and resources into our students’ hands. In addition to planning and implementing excellent instruction, teachers continue to write and receive grants for such things as a walking classroom, class sets of ipads, play aways to listen to stories, Flocabulary vocabulary program, IXL technology program, grants to fund giving students a free book twice a year, and math 24 games. All of their hard work pays off as seen in our end of grade test results.
Add in here what % of our students are level 3,4,and 5???
What are your school’s top two goals for the next year?
Our School Improvement Plan is focused on helping students become proficient writers. I sent several staff to an Empowering Writers workshop. They returned and have taught all teachers about the framework. Students are writing daily and are better able to express themselves whether it is narrative , expository or just responding to a text. We have implemented a school-wide monthly writing task and display the writing on a designated wall for all to see.
We are also working to raise our overall proficiency on the End of Grade Test. We are currently at 78% and our goal is 83%. This would mean that more students would be proficient and have a better chance at graduating high school. Also, if we continue to exceed growth, we could raise our school's report card grade from a B to an A. Through hard work, we have been able to continue to increase our proficiency each year, thus better meeting the needs of our students.
Stats
  • Category 1

    Selected in 2017

  • Grades: k - 5
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 0
    Student Enrollment: 0
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 10%
    White/Caucasian: 64%
    Hispanic: 17%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0%
    Native American: 0%
    Other: 7%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:17
    % Reduced Lunch: 63%
    % ELL Learners: 13%
    Founded: 1950
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Vickie Smith
  • CONTACT:
    180 Union School Road
    Shallotte, NC 28470
    910-579-3591
    vsmith@bcswan.net