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Langham Elementary receives top national honor | #Education | #parenting | #parenting | #kids




Langham Elementary school in Nederland is one of 367 schools nationwide — including just 12 in the state of Texas — to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School for academic achievement.


The award, which is given out every year, recognizes schools that are “among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.”


While state assessments were suspended due to the coronavirus last year, the nomination was made in 2019 based on test scores from spring 2019.


“It is a recognition and validation for the part that everyone has played in educating these students,” Langham Principal Toby Latiolais told The Enterprise. “It is not about a specific grade level, or teacher, or administrator, it is all of us.”


While the award is based on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test scores that are given starting in the third grade, Latiolais stressed that the entire campus community plays a part in preparing them.


“Our third and fourth grade teachers are phenomenal, but we know that those STAAR scores in the third and fourth grade wouldn’t be what they are if it wasn’t for the work that was put in by the kindergarten, first- and second-grade teachers.”


In a statement, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called it a “privilege to recognize the extraordinary work you do to meet students’ needs and prepare them for successful careers and meaningful lives.”


Nederland ISD Superintendent Stuart Kieschnick said the award was an example of the ongoing high standards at Langham.


“This campus has a longstanding reputation of being high performing and we expect nothing but the same moving forward in the future,” he said. “We continue to have a committed staff that is willing to do whatever it takes to support our students.”


Langham third-grade teacher Brittany Meshwert said professional development and collaboration across the entire campus is part of what led to the quality education that was recognized by this award.


“We teamwork within our grade level, but we also communicate across grade levels,” Meshwert said. “If I need to know what my students learned last year, I can go to second grade and we can talk about that. It’s kind of like building out their skills every year. And we’re really good about cross curricular and cross grade level planning, not just within our own grade level.”


That happens across all subjects, Latiolais said.


“The example I always use is our coaches in PE have kids doing their warmup exercises and incorporating spelling words and math facts with it,” he said. “You know, so that it’s not just falling on one teacher in one classroom but everybody on campus and in the community.”


While the award was given based on pre-pandemic test scores, teachers and administrators are trying to maintain the same level of academic rigor during distance learning, and amid safety precautions that could be disruptive.


“The expectation is still the same, even if the environment may look a bit different,” Latiolais said. “Desks are more spaced out, kids are staggered in the cafeteria … and some are in brick buildings while some are clicking away on their computer at home. The level of rigor has not changed at all.”


On top of the safety precautions and distance learning, teachers at Langham and across the district are working to fill in gaps from lost learning time when schools shut down last spring.


“We can’t really go back and start where we left off,” Meshwert said. “So I have to incorporate what skills they’ve missed into what I am already teaching. I have to scaffold, there just is not enough time to start over where we left off.”


While Meshwert and other teachers started off the year worried about the challenges, the students have taken well to them so far.


“The kids are excited to be back with their friends, and with their teachers and in a routine,” she said. “I was nervous and scared at first just for it being the unknown, as so many teachers were I am sure … but the kids are adapting well and we are just moving right along.”



isaac.windes@hearstnp.com
twitter.com/isaacdwindes





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