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Monday, July 21, 2014

Getting Ready for Kindergarten!

Kindergarten is an exciting time for children and their parents. As your child moves from preschool or daycare to Kindergarten they may need you to help prepare him or her for this big step. You may be able to build their confidence by doing family activities to help your child learn what school will be like. Over the next several weeks before school begins on Tuesday, September 2nd you may want to try some of the following activities:

• Doing art projects with your child and incorporating the use of crayons, markers, glue, scissors, paint, and other supplies will help him or her to be familiar with activities he or she will do in school.

• Math activities such as counting pennies, grouping items into similar categories, matching numerals with numbers of items, talking about time, and discussing differences in sizes of items such as big, little, small and large.

• Reading books together. The Public Library is a great source for choosing books at random or about a particular topic your child is interested in, such as dinosaurs, dogs, animals, or space travel.

Columbia School District is offering all day Kindergarten, Young 5’s, and Preschool for your children. We believe that all day Kindergarten and all day Young 5’s program are successful in providing additional learning opportunities for our students. The additional time allows teachers to expand and advance our curriculum providing increased academic experiences for our Kindergarteners and Young 5’s. Our teachers are excited about the growth and achievements they see in our children who participate in all day Kindergarten.

Since beginning all day Kindergarten we have seen many benefits. Our students learn to read in Kindergarten and they are excited when they get an opportunity to read to each other. They are able to work on additional math facts and learn about how to count coins. The students count pennies, nickels, and dimes. They also have an opportunity to work with guided writing strategies. Many of the current standards and benchmarks are very similar to what used to be taught in first grade.

Transitioning from preschool or daycare to Kindergarten or Young 5’s is a big step for children. If you haven’t had an opportunity to register your child for one of these terrific programs, please stop by Columbia Elementary or call 592-6632 or email Mrs. Powell @ or Together we are Building a Brighter Future for our Students!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Paddling as a Team Towards Educational Excellence!

Recently my husband took a group to West Virginia to go whitewater rafting.  For those of you who have been on the New River, you know that there are medium rapids, fast rapids and a couple areas of calm water.  As you proceed down the river you follow the lead of your guide: paddle on the right, paddle backwards, or lean a particular way.  When you make it through an especially difficult run of rapids, you feel a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie.  You and your rafting team-mates may even use your paddles to do a huge “high-five.”

lower-n-alldayIn a school district, much like a river raft, there must be guides.  The Columbia School District Board of Education guides the district by making policy decisions and budgetary assessments.  When looking forward to the district improvements, the Facility Improvement Team handed over draft plans for the bond issue and the School Board adopted the recommendations.  As the projects go forward the board continues to adjust the plans and maximize the benefits for the students. The guidance they provide influences all those in the Columbia School District family.

Working closely with the School Board, administrators, teachers and community is another guide; the superintendent.  Similar to the way the guides on the New River ask the participants to paddle left, right or backward, as superintendent I work with the principals and teachers on curriculum, technology and school improvements.  I also have the responsibility of putting the budget together and I work closely with the construction team, made up the School Board, Steering Committee, architect, construction manager and contractors. 
This year our high school teachers and students had a new guide in Mr. Hyliard.  As he worked throughout the year with the teachers and students they developed camaraderie, similar to the teams in the river rafting.  They also set their sights to build on previous years’ work by improving student test scores and they succeeded! Our students responded to the guidance of their teachers and principal to achieve to a level unequaled by other schools in the county.  On the MME and ACT, the students raised their scores in each category compared to last year.

Providing guidance for Columbia Middle School is Mrs. O’Neil.  In her second year as principal, she has worked with her teachers to create a positive learning environment for all students.  They work together to celebrate excellence with Student of the Month, the Science Fair, the Robotics Team and Geography Race.  They also have put in a lot of time paddling together in the same direction towards achievement of their school improvement goals.

Mrs. Powell provides the guidance to the Columbia Elementary School teachers and students.  One of their school improvement goals was to align their curriculum to the Common Core standards.  They have spent hours and hours working together to set their goals, objectives and activities to provide excellence in learning activities for their students.  They also have worked on improving support for their students in reading and writing. 

Options High School teachers and students follow the lead of principal Piepkow. One the growing programs at Options is the Online Academy.  The Columbia Online Academy has many students joining every day and taking advantage of the learning environment options.

The Columbia School District is looking forward to the 2014 – 2015 school year!  Beginning on September 2nd, we are set to have the best year ever!  CCHS has two new science courses and one new AP social studies course.  CMS is providing various new summer programs that will give students an advantage when they begin school in the fall. CES is offering Reading Recovery this summer and has additional supplemental materials for mathematics.  All of the schools will have carts of new Chromebooks for the students and the elementary will have a card of new iPads for students to use. 

If you would like to join us as we paddle our raft to excellence in educational learning environments and register your child for school, please call me at 5175926641 or email me at

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Columbia Pride Community Wide!

For all of you who attended the Fourth of July Parade, you saw many teachers, staff members, administrators and board members handing out foam flyers with the inscription: “Columbia Pride Community Wide.”  These fine folks are crucial members of the Columbia School District Family who take pride in nurturing, teaching and working with the youth of the area.  From pre-kindergartners through 12th grade students we take pride in educating our students and providing them with excellent learning environments.

This spring and summer we have given a lot of tours and registered students for Columbia Schools. When we ask parents and students what brought them to Columbia School District, many of them answer “Our children are excited to attend a school with high academic standards” or “Your test scores show that you have excellent teachers” or “Our children want to take AP courses.”  Parents of our youngest students focus on the caring and nurturing teachers at the elementary and middle school level. 

Pride in our Columbia Schools reaches even farther: This fall in addition to having new roofs and safer drop off and pick-up areas at the Columbia Elementary and Middle School campus, our students will have an opportunity to use improved technology.  We are adding to the Chromebooks we piloted at Columbia Middle School this year.  We will have additional carts of Chromebooks at both the middle and high school this fall.  Our Columbia Central High School teachers will receive new laptops and there will be new iPads at Columbia Elementary School.  This is just the first step in the technology improvements that will happen over the next year at all of our schools.

Not only are we gaining students at Columbia Central High School, Columbia Middle and Elementary School, the Columbia Online Academy is growing with students who need an alternative to the traditional school setting.  Many area homeschoolers who have outgrown their elementary curriculum have joined our Online Academy, taking advantage of the free online schooling options and supportive teaching assistance from Lisa Klink.  Other are students who have joined the Online Academy are students with chronic illnesses that prevent them from attending school or students who have adult responsibilities and need a flexible schedule for their school attendance.  There are many opportunities for your child to find a terrific fit in one of our learning environments at Columbia School District.  If you have any questions about our options for free school attendance, please call me at 5175926641 or email me at