By Trevor Busch
Things are shaping up well for another banner year at Vauxhall Elementary School for the 2017-2018 season, and principal Dale Cummings is excited about the potential.
“I think we’re just really looking forward to a wonderful year. We have good parents to go along with our staff, and our students — they just make me smile every day.”
New staff at the school this year includes Matthew Hawke (Grade 5-6), Sarah Kropf (Grade 5), and Kayli O’Donnell (Grade 1-2).
“They’re a good addition to our staff, so nice to have them here,” said Cummings.
The school is hosting their Welcome Back BBQ on Sept. 14, followed by the Terry Fox Run on Sept. 15. From Oct. 30 – Nov. 3, VES will also be playing host to a traveling theatre company.
“We’re having Missoula Children’s Theatre this year at the end of October,” said Cummings. “The school council are funding that to come into our school. We haven’t had them for many, many years, so we’re looking forward to that.”
One exciting change is a modernist move toward making the library more of a common learning area rather than a simple repository for books.
“We’re making the shift of turning our library into a ‘learning commons’,” said Cummings. “The library is becoming more of a central hub for a lot of things besides just books and reading. We’re going to be putting games in there, we’re going to have science projects that kids can work on, other technologies — we’re just going to be giving the kids the opportunity to really expand the opportunity they have to find about new things. It’s going to be exciting, our library is really going to be a hub of activity — that’s going to be a nice change for our kids.”
Improving math instruction remains a key goal, added Cummings.
“I want to continue on with improving our math instruction. That was a goal we set out last year to do some new things with that, so we’re certainly making headway in that area, so our focus will be beyond that.”
Coming off a relatively recent modernization, there haven’t been many improvements or renovations, but students will notice an addition at school water fountains.
“Probably the most exciting thing was we had the hydration stations put in, quick-fill water bottle stations at our fountains, so kids can just take their water bottle up and push a button, and it will fill their water bottle quickly. A lot of schools have that now, and it’s just a focus of healthy living and healthy lifestyles, drinking lots of water, and hydration. That’s another thing our school council parents paid for,” said Cummings.
Enrollment has remained status quo, but the school is looking to improve its assessment practices.
“We have about the same enrollment that we had expected to come in. We’re going to be very close to our projections. Overall, I’m not anticipating any challenges at this time. Another thing we’re moving forward on is our assessment practices. That’s another area we want to grow with, and the division is helping everyone with that, we have an assessment expert with Horizon that will be working with us, and as a school we’ll be focusing on better assessment,” said Cummings.