JCCS takes the SSTAGE again

Making the case for the work being done at East Jackson Elementary School at the Student Support Team Association for Georgia Educators’ January conference are, from left, counselor Katie Deans, kindergarten-through-second-grade multi-tiered systems of support coordinator Wendy Dillow, third-through-fifth-grade MTSS coordinator Sherry Beauchamp, and Allyson Pennington, then the school’s assistant principal. School psychologist Debbie Williamson also is part of the team.

Another Jackson County School System team has been recognized by the Student Support Team Association for Georgia with its highest honor for the second consecutive year.

East Jackson Elementary School staff earned the 2019 SSTAGE STAR Award for Promising Practices for elementary schools in Georgia and will be recognized at the organization’s annual conference in January in Athens.

The annual award is given to one Georgia school district identified as implementing a comprehensive set of multi-tiered systems of support practices and recognizes EJES’s efforts to match effective solutions to student needs, particularly in areas where behavior issues are a factor in academic success.

EJES was one of the school and district teams selected from a pool of applicants to present at the Best Practices Conference last year, making it a nominee for the award.

At the conference, members of the audience complete an evaluation form modeled after the SSTAGE Best Practices rubric, which includes five major characteristics of effective Pyramid of Intervention and RTI practices.  The components include:

  • ·        Effective systematic problem-solving process at each tier.
  • ·        Coordinated system of instructional/behavioral supports/resources.
  • ·        Coordinated system of assessment and progress monitoring.
  • ·        Job-embedded professional learning and ongoing teacher support.
  • ·        A systematic plan for parent/family communication and involvement.

In the months following the conference, SSTAGE members conducted day-long visits at elementary schools around the state that were in the running for the award; EJES hosted the SSTAGE committee Feb. 22.

John O’Connor, SSTAGE president, and Wallace R. Blackstock, SSTAGE executive director, said the SSTAGE site visit team commended the school’s “strong system of assessment and progress monitoring (that) … informs teams at all levels for decision-making.”

In addition to data tracking, universal screening and implementation of a master schedule and master plan, they also noted that “the positive culture of the school is impossible to miss, and it is reflected by the leadership and the staff.

“It is obvious all have adopted an emphasis on developing meaningful relationships with students and their families,” they noted.

Individual student conferences and goal-setting with students were cited as commendable “strong practices,” as were EJES’s “embrace” of literacy training efforts for staff and the training and initial implementation of Positive Behavior Intervention Supports that recognize and promote positive behavior and support students who struggle behaviorally.

“The unity of leadership” among the administrative team was recognized as a “polarizing force” that inspires and motivates the staff, and the incorporation of parent support through Eagle Aides and Watch D.O.G.S. was described as “an invaluable use of parents and extended family members of students.”

The “concerted effort to keep parents informed” through schoolwide events, parent-teacher conferences, teacher-supplied reports, Parent University, English classes and the school resource room was cited as “evidence that the school values a parent-teacher-school relationship.”

“EJES’s enthusiasm, team collaboration, dedication, and understanding of RTI/MTSS will be an inspiration to educational leaders and teachers across the state of Georgia,” they concluded.

SSTAGE has invited the EJES team to present at the January 15 Promising Practices Conference, and team members will be recognized for their accomplishments at an awards presentation.

Team members who made the presentation at last year’s conference included third-through-fifth-grade multi-tiered systems of support coordinator Sherry Beauchamp, kindergarten-through-second-grade MTSS coordinator Wendy Dillow, counselor Katie Deans, school psychologist Debbie Williamson, and Allyson Pennington, then the school’s assistant principal. Pennington was named principal at EJES after Jennifer Halley announced her retirement earlier this year.

EJES is one of 10 schools in the Jackson County School System, which serves 8,000 students in pre-K through 12th grade. Learn more online at JacksonSchoolsGa.org.