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Andover USD 385
Cottonwood Elementary School serves 400 students in kindergarten through fifth grades. It’s one of six elementary schools in Andover. The school’s mission reads, “We will work together at Cottonwood Elementary to be responsible, respectful and resourceful. We will do what is right.”
The school said each day at Cottonwood starts with a greeting and class meeting. They also hold weekly Rise and Shine assemblies, which is meant to bring the school together and to celebrate and recognize student successes. Additionally, teachers meet regularly to analyze data, select and implement research-proven strategies and monitor student progress. They utilize Second Step and character lessons to encourage and model positive behavior. Cottonwood builds relationships through Buddle classes, pairing students together to read and connect. They strive to make the building and classrooms inviting and safe for all students.
Geary County USD 475
Morris Hill is one of four elementary schools on the Fort Riley Military Base. Since 1957, the school has welcome families from all over the world, sometimes being the first American school the family has ever visited, let along attended. Morris Hill said it stands out from other elementary schools because of the supportive relationships they build among themselves, their students and the students’ families. The school has staff who speak German, Spanish and Chinese. Many people on their staff are either recently or previously military spouses. Morris Hill said the culture shock families may experience at first diminishes once they begin working with the school’s staff.
The school’s mission is, “A place where students, families, teachers and community work together in a partnership to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment, ensuring the highest levels of achievement and the development of productive citizens who are lifelong learners.”
Morris Hill has received several accolades over the years. When asked what makes them so successful, they said it comes down to the relationships they build with their students and their families.
Hays USD 439
R.L. Wright Elementary is a small school of 280 students that is on the same campus as the junior and senior high schools. The school said a feeling of connection starts as students step on campus because every morning, staff stand on the curb and greet students. Every adult in the building has a group of kids in different grade levels within what they call “Fab Families,” meeting monthly for various activities. High school students mentor younger students in a program called Champs, similar to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Being a small school, teachers can build relationships that can last for the fourteen years students are on campus.
The school’s mission is: To prepare students to be positive productive members of society by providing opportunities for basic academic skills, critical thinking, communication and cooperative learning skills.
Students are part of a Multi-tiered System of Support, according to the school, that allows them to meet the academic needs of each student on their level.
R.L. Wright Elementary said small class sizes, emphasis on high expectations and community involvement are some of the reasons they’ve found success. They go on to say the growth mindset of always wanting to learn, and leadership’s encouragement of innovation have made a difference for students.
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