Morenci's school success acknowledged by state 04.27.2011

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci Area High School is one of more than 130 Michigan schools identified as Beating the Odds.

The Michigan Department of Education released a list of schools last week described as overcoming barriers to reach academic success. The school districts making the list face factors such as low economic status, race and ethnicity.

Morenci Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Osborne said he isn’t familiar with the study and the education department website doesn’t offer clear information about the news. Despite that, he’s pleased to see the district recognized for its achievement.

He assumes that socioeconomic factors are what placed the district on the list. For example, the number of families qualifying for free and reduced school lunches is high compared to other area districts.

Despite the economic challenges facing many families, high school students consistently score at or above the state average on annual testing.

In a press release from the state, Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan said, “These are schools that are doing remarkable things to help their students achieve, despite the odds being stacked against them.”

One study identified schools performing above predicted levels. A second study—the one in which Morenci appeared—identified schools that perform better than a comparison group of school with similar demographics.

“What it really comes down to,” Dr. Osborne said, “is teachers in the classroom. It’s the impact of teachers and families, and the involvement of both.”

High school/middle school principal Stephen Philipp names several factors  that he’s observed as he’s gotten to know the staff in his first year with the district, including:

• The staff identifying academically weak students and encouraging these student to seek additional help, to prevent students from falling behind, getting discouraged, dropping out, etc.

• Parent notification of students performance, good or bad;

• Offering parents an option for improving students performance through the ZAP program and other after-school help.

• Parents holding their student accountable by helping that student make the best decisions to finish work and look beyond high school.

“These are just a few of the many things that add up to student success,” Philipp said. “I believe student success is multi-leveled.”

Teacher and staff involvement in students’ lives; community members involved in students’ lives; student expectations set by staff and community all play a role.

Staff and administrators now need to examine the data, Philipp said, and look closely at areas where the school is showing strengths and weaknesses.

Dr. Flanagan takes that a step further.

“If I were a local superintendent again, I would contact that school beating the odds and find out what they are doing and put those things in place in my schools,” Flanagan said.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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