• Category 1

    Selected in 2018

  • Grades: pre k - 5
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 2,100
    Student Enrollment: 166
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 0%
    White/Caucasian: 72.5%
    Hispanic: 0%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0.5%
    Native American: 24%
    Other: 3%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:17
    % Reduced Lunch: 40%
    % ELL Learners: 1%
    Founded: 1959
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Jennifer Rinaldi
  • CONTACT:
    31706 Parks Highway
    Willow, AK 99688
    907-495-9300
    Jennifer.Rinaldi@matsuk12.us
Willow Elementary School
Willow, AK
“We welcome community members in at all times, and are grateful for all the support we receive."
Describe the most successful activity your school has initiated to strengthen ties to your community.
In conjuction with our PTA and local Lions Club, Willow Elementary hosts numerous activities throughout the year which bring a large number of families into our school. Events include community PTA Pancake Breakfasts, Iditarod breakfasts, monthly skate nights, and a number of Title I events that are supported by our school community including: Game Night & Chili Cook Off, Eggstravagana, Science Fair, and Books and Breakfast.
Describe your school culture and explain changes you’ve taken to improve it.
Our school culture is one of a strong community. All members are welcomed, and we frequently have many family and community members present in our building throughout a majority of the day. It has been a goal of the current administration to keep this tradition alive and well and continue to support community involvement as much as possible.
Describe how data is used to improve student achievement and inform decision making.
Data dialogues are held on a quarterly basis to ensure students are receiving appropriate interventions for their individual needs. Present at these data dialogues are the building administrator, the classroom teacher, and the Tier 3 Interventionist/Resource Teacher. The team collectively works to identify solutions to student academic and behavioral needs, and then discusses scheduling to help support these needs. ESEA funds provide the substitutes needed to allow time to support these conversations.
Describe the program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement, including closing achievement or opportunity gaps, if applicable.
Willow Elementary School recently became a 1:1 School, meaning that each of our students in grades K-5 has access to their own individual laptop throughout the day. This initiative was originally funded with ESEA Funds, and has been instrumental in allowing students to access electronic resources that they otherwise would not be able to. Some of the programs purchased with ESEA funds and used with our computers are Lexia, V-Math, Aleks, Rocket Math , and Moby Max.
Explain how ESEA federal funds are used to support your improvement efforts.
In addition to the above resources, Willow Elementary uses ESEA funds to hire additional staff to support intervention initiatives. The staff hired include a STAR Tutor to assist with our Kindergarten classroom, and a Tutor Advisor who helps support students in Tier 2 that have additional academic needs. ESEA funds have also been used to promote reading by offering each child a brand new book on their birthday, as well as purchase incentives to encourage excellent school attendance.
Describe your philosophy of school change or improvement.
It is imperative for schools to have supportive communities in order to be successful, and support come in a variety of forms. Teachers need to continually provide support to their students, and have access to resources in order to do so. Administrators are critical in providing support for teachers in order to create the most successful environment for student learners. Finally, external support for a school and its community, coming from PTAs, community organizations, and families, is critical for a school to continually perform at its highest potential.
Identify the critical professional development activities you use to improve teaching and student learning.
Teachers at Willow Elementary School have received professional development in the following areas: AIMSWeb, Technology Training, PBIS, Capturing Kids' Hearts, CHAMPS, Google Classroom, Journeys, Lexia, Trauma Sensitive and various RTI methods.
Describe specific programs in place to ensure that families are involved in the success of your school and students.
PTA meetings are held monthly on Fridays, and on alternate Fridays the building administrator holds a "Principal Chat" to encourage conversation and involvement from families. Outside of these events, there are community events routinely hosted throughout the month that bring in families and community members so that they fell they are part of the community.
What is the single most important factor in the success of your school that others could replicate?
The staff and students at Willow Elementary are proud to have incredible support from our community and families, which is critical in the success of our school. We welcome community members in at all times, and are grateful for all the support we receive.
What are your school’s top two goals for the next year?
Our school continually focuses on improvement, and will be working on:

*Increased academic achievement scores in Math and Language Arts
*Improving overall attendance for all grade levels
Stats
  • Category 1

    Selected in 2018

  • Grades: pre k - 5
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 2,100
    Student Enrollment: 166
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 0%
    White/Caucasian: 72.5%
    Hispanic: 0%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0.5%
    Native American: 24%
    Other: 3%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:17
    % Reduced Lunch: 40%
    % ELL Learners: 1%
    Founded: 1959
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Jennifer Rinaldi
  • CONTACT:
    31706 Parks Highway
    Willow, AK 99688
    907-495-9300
    Jennifer.Rinaldi@matsuk12.us