New technology and programs are in place in elementary schools

Across the country, cuts in the arts and athletic programs are an unfortunate reality, but in the Paso Robles School District new music, dance, art and sports programs have been put into place.

These programs are anything but elementary.

Starting in transitional kindergarten, students have the opportunity to take dance from specialists for 35 minutes every week, or twice a week for Bauer-Speck Arts Magnet students. Each elementary school now has an art studio, where fourth and fifth-graders receive 35 minutes of instructional time a week, or 45 minutes for Bauer-Speck students. First through third-graders also receive art instruction in their classrooms. In addition, students also receive music education, beginning with music exploration in transitional kindergarten and kindergarten, then onto choir, recorders, rhythm and percussion and finally band in the fifth grade. Bauer Speck students also have access to piano and violins along with the more typical band instruments.

“All of these programs provide students with more opportunities to be engaged in school. For some students art or music will be their motivation for coming to school” said Carol Stoner, principal of Pifer elementary.

In addition to these programs, 2016 will also mark the return of the Almond Blossom festival, a public speaking event where students recite poetry. Senior Riley Austin participated in the festival in kindergarten through third grade before the event was ended.

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Superintendent Chris Williams, who has made efforts to add many new programs this year. Click photo for a video on the new programs.

“It got me to speak in front of a group of people and boosted my confidence when I won awards.” Austin said about the experience.

 

With the fall of the economy in 2008, many schools had to slash the arts as a way to balance the budget. However, instruction in the arts leads to more well rounded students, not students distracted from core curriculum. A sustained education in theatre and music correlates with greater achievement in math and reading, according to dosomething.org. The addition of these new programs will help create students more prepared for upper level education.

 

New sports programs were also introduced on Sept. 22. These are free after-school programs and include track and field, soccer, wrestling, cross country, basketball and volleyball. *Going to talk to Richard Clayton for more info on that

“Athletics will promote physical, mental and social health” Superintendent Chris Williams said. Practices will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays with competitions on Fridays, and a Saturday elementary jamboree at the conclusion of each season.

“The first goal of the program is to create students that continue to be physically active for the duration of their life. The second goal is to teach our students that being physically active has a direct impact on brain function and academic success. The third and final goal is to develop sport specific skills while improving the confidence of our student athletes.” said Richard Clayton, District K-12 Director of Physical Education and Athletics.

So far, the students have had a positive reaction to the implementation of these programs. “The feedback from the students was contagiously enthusiastic!  Their desire to be a part of their school’s teams was positively overwhelming!” said Kellie Bergquist, a physical education teacher at Georgia Brown and Bauer-Speck.

Along with these programs, the GATE program has been extended to begin in the first grade, and all staff has now received Google Chromebooks.New Instructional Coaches have been added who will work with teachers to put practices into place to improve student achievement. PBIS, which stands for positive behavior intervention support, has been put into place, and is a system that focuses on improving how positive behaviors are taught in the schools.

With these changes, and still more to come in the future, students at the elementary level are getting not only a better learning environment, but more opportunities to discover and explore their passions than in past years.

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