EASD Wins American School Board Journal Magna Award

By on April 27, 2018

EASD wins American School Board Journal Magna Award

By Marylouise Sholly

 

 

 

Jordan Steffy (right), an area resident holding a Magna Award, created
the Attollo program at Ephrata High School. The program helps
students obtain access to college and grow as leaders in their communities.
He is joined by EASD Superintendent Brian Troop and Jennifer Creel

The Ephrata Area School District recently received an American School Board Journal Magna Award for instituting the Attollo program at Ephrata High School.

The Ephrata district was among 18 districts nationwide to receive a Magna Award, with more than 100 districts competing for the honor, Timothy Stayer, board president, announced at Monday evening’s monthly meeting, held April 23 at Highland Elementary School.

The Attollo program at Ephrata High School was among five educational programs nationally recognized in the under 5,000-enrollment category.

“This shows that our district is on the leading edge of best practices in education,” Stayer said. “Attollo is an outstanding program that embodies our district’s mission; we want all our students to reach their potential.”

The board also recognized Jordan Steffy, an area resident who created the Attollo program. Steffy has ties to the community, and attended a district elementary school as a child.

Attollo, Latin for “rise up,” is a six week program that aims to help students obtain access to college and grow as leaders in their communities.

“This is a great honor and I am very grateful the Ephrata school district received this award,” said board member Glenn Martin.

The program focuses on six pillars; strong mind, competition, resiliency, accountability, sacrifice, and finishing strong, in order to help young people achieve success in life.

Students in the Attollo program meet before school from 5:30 to 7 a.m. three times a week for six weeks. The students make “plans of action” to be accepted into college, while learning about ways to obtain scholarships and find outside funding to help reduce the cost of a college education.

“People would be surprised to know that a group of teenagers is consistently willing to make this commitment at such an early time of the morning…it’s inspiring to see the commitment and determination in these students,” said Ephrata High School Principal Dr. Scott Galen, in a press release.

“While it’s exciting to receive this type of national recognition, it’s really about how the program benefits our students’ experience,” said Superintendent Dr. Brian Troop. “Graduates of the Attollo program are truly on a new path toward success.”

The district collaborates with “Children Deserve a Chance,” creators of the Attollo program, to institute the program.

“They have role models to see college as a possibility and it helps them realize they have the power to change their trajectory,” Stayer said.

Magna Award recipients will be recognized at the National School Board Association Conference in late April in San Antonio, Texas.

At the meeting, Stayer presented resolutions acknowledging the musical achievements of three Ephrata High School students who were selected to perform in the All-State Pennsylvania Music Educators Association ensembles.

Sophomore Jamie Chon qualified to participate in the PMEA All-State Orchestra by placing as first-chair violin of the 16 student musicians vying for a position and earning the position of concertmaster.

Megan Lausch, a senior, and Bryce Babyak, a junior, qualified to participate in the PMEA All-State Wind Ensemble.

Megan, a flutist, also placed as first-chair flute at the PMEA Region V Band Festival.

Bryce, a bassoon player, was first-chair bassoon at the PMEA Region V Orchestra Festival.

In another matter, Ephrata school board members voted this week to send a resolution to local legislators expressing their opposition to state Senate Bill 2, which outlines the procedure for an Educational Savings Account, or ESA, voucher program for the state’s private, online, and charter schools.

“The bill takes money from public schools to subsidize private schools and could take as much as $5 million across the state,” Stayer said. “Vouchers do not necessarily lead to improved education for all students.”

The Pennsylvania School Board Association had asked public school districts to state their concerns with the voucher bill, asking them to write their legislators.

Monday evening, Board member Tim Stauffer was the lone dissenter, voting against sending the resolution opposing the ESA voucher program.

While a proponent of public education, Stauffer said other programs might be as important in helping students achieve their educational goals, and should be given the chance to impact the state’s educational opportunities.

“There may be some other opportunities with vouchers,” Stauffer said.

Superintendent Troop said public schools need to look at the practical side of the legislation to determine how the bill would impact their districts.

While the ESA vouchers would be used for kindergarten and first grade students in the coming year, it seems the intent of the bill is to expand the program to higher grades, Troop said.

“There are some questions with this bill,” Troop said. “Students move in and out of schools frequently and if they use up the voucher money in one school, what happens when they start at another school?”

The vouchers are also aimed at students who attend public schools rated as performing in the lowest 15 percent. If a student moves to a higher-performing district, will he still be eligible for a voucher, Troop asked.

While the bill has been tabled for now, the state superintendents’ association has cautioned that the bill might resurface as early as May to be voted on, Troop said.

“Public schools do so much good in Pennsylvania and across the nation, and a higher percentage of Pennsylvania students graduate and move onto higher education than in many other states,” Troop said.

Pennsylvania students consistently ranked in or near the top 10 nationally on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams for reading and math, Troop said.

Pennsylvania is also becoming a leader in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education programs, he added.

If the ESA voucher bill would pass, the Ephrata Area School District could possibly lose up to $400,000 in state funding, said Kristee Reichard, district business manager.

About 230 students living in the Ephrata district are currently home-schooled, Reichard said.

The resolution opposing the ESA vouchers notes that “Pennsylvania school districts provide countless academic and extracurricular opportunities for learning and growth of all students, preparing them for higher education and careers.”

The resolution continues by stating that public schools ensure that each student with a disability receives a free public education.

Voucher programs “undermine Pennsylvania’s responsibility to ensure every student in every community has equal access to public education,” according to the resolution.

The resolution also questions where the funding taken from public schools could end up; it could be funneled to unaccountable private schools or diverted to tutoring services, without ensuring students receive fulltime educational instruction.

The resolution will be sent to Senator Ryan Aument (R-Landisville), who helped to craft the bill, said Board member Martin, the PSBA Region IX Legislative Liaison.

“They pulled the bill for now, realizing they have more work to do on it,” Martin said. “But it could be coming back at any time.”

Martin told the Board about Senate Bill 1095, which proposes changing graduation requirements, adding “I think that would be a good change.”

Proposed graduation changes were not detailed.

Martin also praised Senate Bill 1078, which amends the Sunshine Law, allowing discussion of school safety issues in executive session.

“That’s been a long time in coming,” Martin said. “You should be able to talk about those things, school safety issues, in executive session; what you’re planning to do in the way of protection.”

In another matter, students of Highland Elementary School demonstrated to the Board and administration reasons to celebrate public education by spotlighting their “Mountaineer Program.”

The fourth graders of teacher Tammy Fulginiti participate in the Mountaineer Program to learn the characteristics of role models, and how they can become role models, too.

Fourth graders can be chosen for the “Right Track” part of the program, helping younger students at the beginning or end of the school day.

Several students demonstrated to the board members how they helped younger students by organizing their desks, and making sure the kindergarten kids had all the papers packed that need to go home with them.

The fourth graders also read books to the younger students.

Students read the qualifications of a role model to the Board, including being truthful and responsible and always looking out for the good of others.

On Mountaineer Pride Day, the fourth graders will greet students coming into the school, making eye contact and saying ‘good morning,’ or ‘have a great day.’

“We want to make Highland Elementary a welcoming place,” said Fulginiti. “This is a great way to get our students off on the right foot. We’ve received good feedback from teachers (of younger students).”

Marylouise Sholly is a freelance feature writer for the Ephrata Review. She welcomes your comments and questions at weezsholly@verizon.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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