Mount Vernon-Ruth (MVR) Elementary is a small, community-oriented school located in rural Rutherford County, North Carolina. In July of 2001, Mount Vernon Elementary School and Ruth Elementary School merged combining the two communities. Both communities joined hands to work together to support the children of Mount Vernon-Ruth Elementary. MVR Elementary is home of the Lions where we believe that all students are leaders.
We are a Title 1 school serving students in kindergarten through grade five. With a warm and inviting atmosphere, MVR welcomes all students and their families. With an average of 215 students and 45 staff members, we are the second smallest elementary school in the district. While most students who attend MVR do reside in our community, 14% of students request a transfer to attend our school. The average class size is seventeen students. Our student ethnic makeup is 13% Hispanic, 6% African American, 6% Multiracial, and 75% Caucasian. Seventeen percent of students are identified as students with special needs while four percent are identified as limited English proficient. Five percent of our students are identified as Academically and Intellectually Gifted. Presently, 52.47% of our students are identified as economically disadvantaged. Our district provides a Community Eligibility Program (CEP) to all students due to the poverty level of many of the families located in our community. All students receive free breakfast and lunch each day. Approximately thirty MVR students receive food backpacks each Friday to support their food needs over the weekend. At MVR, students maintain an average daily attendance of 93.4% present.
MVR’s small and close-knit community make it a special place to teach and learn. Closeness invites and allows for stakeholders to work together. In spite of hard economic times, our students' families are supportive of our school and are active with fundraising efforts. Our Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) works diligently to make sure all students are afforded a multitude of learning and life experiences. They make it possible for all students to attend field trips and participate in extra activities. Our PTO shows staff appreciation with monthly luncheons and gifts.
MVR Reading Mentors work with students on a weekly basis. Mentors not only provide students an opportunity to be read with but they also provide students with a coach for the school year. Through the McNair program, R.S. Central High School leadership classes provide opportunities for high school students to work bi-weekly with our first grade students. High school students read with students and practice sight word and fact fluency with students. Lifelong friendships are created through this partnership. Community volunteers work at MVR in multiple capacities. Volunteers help at our Fall and Spring Book Fairs, during our Fall Festival, and at various times throughout the school year as teachers need extra support in their classroom. Several churches in the MVR community provide food, clothing, and school supplies to families in need.
MVR offers several different extra-curricular activities in which students can participate. These activities provide students with an opportunity to practice and demonstrate leadership skills. These activities include Robotics, Elementary Book Challenge, Scripps National Spelling Bee Program, Academically and Intellectually Gifted Days (including Innovation and GEAR - Gifted Enrichment Accelerated Readiness Days), and musical programs. Students maintaining a certain specified criteria are also invited into Junior BETA Club. In BETA, students have many jobs around the school including tutoring younger students, working in safety patrol, and assisting in the media center, cafeteria, and office. BETA students average approximately twenty-five community service hours per week.
At MVR we believe that timely communication with parents and guardians is crucial to student well-being and growth. Within the first ten days of the school year, all teachers make a positive contact with students’ families. At a minimum of two times per school year, our teachers have face-to-face conversations with guardians. Daily, teachers communicate with parents via Class Dojo, Remind, classroom newsletters, and student communication folders. On Sunday evenings, all families receive a call from the administrator using School Messenger with important upcoming weekly reminders. We update our school marquee on an as needed basis to ensure that all families are aware of important dates. MVR’s school website is also used as a communication tool for families. Facebook is frequently updated to not only inform families but also to share pictures of what students are doing each day and to highlight school successes. We reach most of our families through Facebook and continue to receive positive feedback from parents on this form of communication. During the summer of 2019, MVR’s third grade teachers participated in summer home visits. We received glowing positive student and parent feedback. This is an activity we look forward to continuing and expanding in the coming years.
MVR’s Local Advisory Committee (LAC), comprised of both parents and community members, meet six times per school year to discuss upcoming school events, strengths of the school, and areas of improvement for the school. Recently, members of LAC have shared "parents are pleased with the overall school atmosphere and education of the children". The NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey also supports that teachers are extremely happy with their work environment - all scores are in the "agree" and "strongly agree" categories.
One hundred percent of the certified staff at MVR are highly qualified, fully licensed teachers. MVR has twelve classroom teachers. Four teachers hold their Master’s Degree. Additionally three teachers have obtained an add-on licensure. Tutors are employed from October to May to support teachers’ instruction and student learning.
We have worked extremely hard on raising student achievement by holding high expectations for all students and by differentiating instruction so that all students can succeed. Every day students participate in a ninety minute literacy block, seventy-five minute math block, and sixty minute MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) block. In each of these blocks, teachers use research-based tools and strategies along with whole group, small group, and one-on-one delivery of instruction to ensure that all students are successful. Teachers informally and formally assess students on a daily basis to gather data and to inform their instruction. Our current end of grade proficiency data is as follows - End-of-Grade Reading - 61.1%, End-of-Grade Mathematics - 64.7%, and End-of-Grade Science - 86.4%. Our scores in reading, math, and science lie above the district average. With our growth composite (4.73) factored into our school's data, we have an Overall Achievement Score of 74% which gives our school a letter grade of "B". Both achievement and growth scores fall above the state averages. MVR was identified in the top three elementary schools in the Western Region for student growth during the 2018-19 school year. By grade level, we fall below the district average in grades three and five reading. Our overall focus the next two years will continue to include strategies to increase our deficits in third and fifth grades reading.
At MVR our ultimate goal is to see all students be prepared and successful for middle school, high school, college, and the workforce. We take not only teaching very serious, but also the work that lies behind teaching - collaborating, analyzing data, reflecting, and making adjustments. Daily, we work together to make sure each day sees more growth and progress than the day before.
Beliefs and Mission
All staff at MVR have a shared belief that all students can be taught, can learn, and can be successful. After multiple school discussions and school surveys, our School Improvement Team has identified the following as our vision, mission, and beliefs:
School Vision - Our students will be prepared for middle school and beyond.
School Mission - In an ever-changing diverse community, Mt. Vernon-Ruth Elementary School will provide a nurturing school environment for all students and families through rigorous and challenging learning experiences.
Belief Statements: All students can learn and grow academically when held to high expectations Students must be loved first then taught Differentiation and engagement are key for student success Collaboration among all stakeholders is crucial
Our staff meets monthly at Faculty meetings to evaluate the progress students are making toward our school's mission, and ultimately, our vision. We have weekly grade level and MTSS meetings with the school’s administrator, instructional coach, and teachers to discuss specific grade level progress toward our goals. During these meetings we review and analyze data. We collaborate to make needed adjustments to instruction and curricula. Further, we plan for classroom shifts that need to occur so that all students can succeed.
Staff consistently use language from our school’s mission, vision, and belief statements when communicating with students, families, and the community. Students are reminded of our mission, vision, and beliefs through morning announcements, guidance lessons, school expectations, and classroom expectations. Parents are reminded of our mission, vision, and beliefs through informal and formal parent-teacher conferences, student-parent events, and through our multimode delivery of communication with parents.
Faculty meetings, School Improvement Team meetings, grade level meetings, MTSS meetings, beginning teacher meetings, and Local Advisory Council meetings allow MVR stakeholders ample time to review our progress on working towards our school’s mission and vision from many different lenses. Additionally, data obtained from iStation, Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), NC Check Ins, and End-of-Grade Assessments further provide our staff with evidence of our progress towards our mission and vision. The Teaching Working Conditions Survey and parent surveys also provide staff with feedback on our work towards our school’s mission and vision.
Desired Outcomes and Results
By analyzing mClass results, Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) data, iStation data, NC Check In data, and End-of-Grade (EOG) data we identified areas of strength and opportunities for growth. Our most concerning areas of need include third grade reading at 58.1% as measured by the End-of-Grade test and fifth grade reading at 57.8% as measured by the End-of-Grade test.
We have had lengthy conversations about our areas of weakness during School Improvement Team meetings, Faculty meetings, MTSS meetings, and grade level meetings. We have taken an in-depth look at our subgroup, trend, and content strands data for the school. As a school, we have agreed to concentrate our focus on the following non-negotiable actions to help us work towards our desired outcomes and results -
We will - Utilize a 90 minute Literacy Block Utilize a 75 minute Math Block Utilize a 60 minute MTSS Block Incorporate Guided Reading Rotations into Core Reading instruction Use Schoolnet Math as a supplement to RCS Math Instructional Framework (MIF) Use Schoolnet Science as a supplement to RCS Science Instructional Framework (SIF) Use multiple forms of data to inform instruction Use progress monitoring to determine students’ needs and respond accordingly Meet weekly with administrator or school’s instructional coach to review data and respond accordingly Meet weekly as a grade level to discuss content and collaborate on lessons Focus on student engagement and meeting all learning styles Use Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS) Have Parent-Teacher Conferences no fewer than two times per year
By consistently following through with and performing to fidelity the above actions, we believe that we can provide each MVR student with a challenging and rigorous learning opportunity. We believe that through these activities we can reach our ultimate goal which is for all students to be prepared for middle school and beyond. This further supports Rutherford County School’s vision that all students are prepared for college and career success.
Mt. Vernon-Ruth Elementary School will raise overall student proficiency on the North Carolina End-of-Grade Test of Reading from a 61.1% proficiency to 64.5% proficiency or better during the school years of 2019- 2021. Mt. Vernon-Ruth Elementary School will raise overall student proficiency on the North Carolina End-of-Grade Test of Mathematics from a 64.7% proficiency to 68.7% proficiency or better during the school years of 2019- 2021. Mt. Vernon-Ruth Elementary School will raise overall student proficiency on the North Carolina End-of-Grade Test of Science at grade five from an 86.4% proficiency to 91% proficiency or better during the school years of 2019-2021.
Analysis of Organizational and Instructional Effectiveness
Our MVR community has a lot to celebrate. During the 2018-2019 school year, we exceeded expected growth. We saw growth in all of our subgroups. We also saw an all-time high on the End-of-Grade Science EOG. Though growth has been seen in many areas, this growth is inconsistent. We are continuing to struggle in third and fifth grade reading. We will continue to closely monitor student performance, have focused conversations on instruction, collaborate, and adjust our teaching to ensure that we are growing. We continue to use the district’s four transformational strategies to guide our work towards achieving success for all students -
Engage every student in rigorous, personalized learning focused on college and career success: MVR continues to work diligently in the areas of reading, math, and science. Conversation at all meetings center around instruction, data, and student results. Data is reviewed and decisions are made on a daily basis to meet the needs of all learners. Students participate in a ninety minute literacy block, seventy-five minute math block, and sixty minute MTSS block. During both reading and math blocks, time is devoted to providing all students with core instruction while an equal amount of time is designated for differentiated instruction and practice. MVR’s MTSS block provides further time for staff to meet students at their lowest level of understanding and provide instruction from that point of understanding. While our school celebrated a growth composite of 4.73, which identified us as “exceeding expected growth”, we continue to have deficits in the areas of third and fifth grade reading. We will continue to dig deep by analyzing data and exploring other instructional avenues and teaching modalities to grow in these areas. Our goal is to see our proficiency levels increase in reading to 64.5, in math to 68.7, and in science to 91 over the next two year period.
Ensure that a comprehensive, integrated system of support fosters students’ social and emotional health: At MVR we are in the beginning stages of implementing the behavioral component of the MTSS framework. We have completed Integrated Academic and Behavior Systems (IABS) Training for module one. MVR’s motto is “LIONS are Leaders.” “LIONS” serves as an acronym providing students with a tool to remember to be L - loyal, I - independent, O - on-task, N - neat, and S - safe each day. Our MVR matrix outlines student expectations for specified areas in the building. Students receive paws for following school expectations. Classrooms are recognized with lions for meeting school expectations. Assemblies are held when our school paw has been filled by individual student paws. Shoutouts are consistently given to both students and staff during daily morning and afternoon announcements to recognize and encourage positive behavior. Classroom teachers and our school guidance counselor reteach behaviors on an as needed basis to encourage positive student behavior.
Ensure all students’ equitable access to safe, modern, educational facilities and appropriate learning resources: Safety is of highest priority at MVR. Safety cameras are installed at all school entry points and at high traffic areas within the building. All visitors and volunteers must enter our school through locked front doors which lead directly into our office area. Visitors and volunteers are required to use LobbyGuard and speak with an office staff member before moving throughout our building. Further, they are required to check out of our school using LobbyGuard. All students at MVR have an Acceptable Use Agreement on file. Therefore, all students have access to their own iPad where they use it throughout the day to participate in lessons, research, and demonstrate learning. At MVR, all students participate in a weekly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) lab as part of their special’s rotation. In STEM, all students are afforded the opportunity to explore with more technology tools to further nurture student exploration and creativity.
Initiate, sustain, and leverage strong external partnerships that support student learning and school success: As previously stated, MVR works with a multitude of community stakeholders. Many students across our school participate weekly in our Reading Buddies program. First graders work biweekly with McNair students from R.S. Central High School to practice reading and math skills. We continue our partnerships with local churches who graciously provide a variety of resources on an as needed basis to support student and family needs at MVR. We have a very active PTO that works diligently to not only support students in their everyday learning but also plans for and executes many events which draw students, family, and the community together.