Monday, January 14, 2019

Student Support Systems

Image result for path to successIn order for all of our students to be as successful as possible, a variety of support systems have been implemented in the Rivercrest School District.  After all, our mission is to create an environment of high expectations and intensive support in which each student is able to achieve.

Rivercrest Elementary implements a Rivercrest Advisory Program (RAP) as one way to support student learning. Each grade level has time set aside daily for student support. Students in most need of support are provided extra time with the classroom teacher to further enhance the core instruction in the regular classroom. Interventionists work in small groups with the other students to practice skills already acquired or to provide enrichment types of activities, depending on the student grouping. These groups are flexible and determined by individual student needs. Additionally, study groups are meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. The elementary is providing multiple paths to ensure student academic success.

All students are screened for dyslexia tendencies.  Phonics First programming provides a clear learning path to equip all students with skills and strategies to support their reading. Students are typically served in small group settings.

Rivercrest High School's Colt Flex 3.0 schedule is designed to support flexible learning opportunities for students. Students who are meeting or exceeding classroom expectations have increased independent time. Students who need additional support or time to complete assignments are assigned to blocks of supported learning time to get the help they need or to provide the time to get their work completed. For students who need even more support, Colt Student Support (CSS) is assigned as an alternative type of learning environment. Our goal is for EVERY student to experience academic success.

Additional services and support are provided across the district. Counselors are available to support the social/emotional needs of students. Not only does the district employ licensed school counselors, we also provide space for both Families, Inc., and Life Strategies Counseling, Inc. to meet with clients at school. Mr. Dave - career coach - is another layer of support for high school students. He assists with college and career planning. He arranges for industry tours and works with students to prepare them for the work force. He also provides college prep assistance through ACT prep classes, and he walks students through the college application and financial assistance paperwork. Multiple layers of support are available for students.

We also have a program to support and challenge our gifted and talented students. These students receive additional opportunities to pursue topics of interest, engage in creative problem solving, and develop higher level thinking skills. At the high school level, students may elect to take Advanced Placement and concurrent credit classes. Thanks to our partnership with Arkansas Northeastern College, we even have students who graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate's degree!

Special education services are provided for students in most need of support. These educators are licensed to work with our students, and para-professionals work with the teachers in support of student learning.

We strive to meet the needs of all students - regardless of what those needs are. Mrs. Debbie Girdley supports the Backpack Program which provides meals for students. Other physical needs can often be met through the services and support that Mrs. Girdley is able to provide.

We encourage you to share your questions and concerns with your child's teacher. We want your child to have a positive learning experience in the Rivercrest School District. We will strive to meet the needs of the whole child as best we can. We have resources and support systems that can make a difference. Thank you for the opportunity to serve!

Monday, December 17, 2018


High Hopes!

Are you where you thought you would be this time last year? Did you keep your new year resolutions? Did you meet goals that you set for yourself ?  Did you make the grades, lose the pounds, read more, exercise more, practice kindness? December is the perfect time to take a minute and reflect upon the year that is winding down.

Are you like me? I have a mixed bag of successes and opportunities. On a personal level, I consider myself blessed with a loving family who are always nearby and five grandchildren who are the lights of life! I have opportunities this next year to help out more, to get some pictures hung in my home, and to cook more family meals. On a professional level, I am also blessed. What an honor it is to serve my home school community! Teachers are working diligently to provide high quality instruction in a safe learning environment. We are collaborating as professional learning communities to analyze data to determine instructional next steps, and students are being successful! The elementary has been recognized for an award for the students' growth in literacy. High school students are earning scholarships and awards. Is there room to grow?  Sure - but we are moving in the right direction. In addition to success in the classroom, our students also excel in athletics and other extra-curricular activities. Our high school cheerleaders are back-to-back state champions! I am very proud of our students, and they make me smile every day. I know parents and other community stakeholders share my pride in our students!

As I begin to look to where we might be this time next year, I am filled with anticipation about what the future will hold. I am hopeful. Have you heard the song "High Hopes"? It is an old tune that brings a smile to my face (I know that I smile pretty easily!), and I hope it will make you smile as well. What, indeed, makes the ant think he can move a rubber tree plant? Our collective high hopes can make a difference, and I am eager to see what we will accomplish in the year ahead!
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Check out the YouTube song!  And please excuse the quality of the video!

Enjoy the Christmas break!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

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Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting
Image may contain: 2 people, people standingThe word effort is defined as "a vigorous or determined attempt," "conscious exertion of power," and "hard work requiring time and effort." It is very rewarding to see the efforts our school community is making in order to be successful. Teachers strive daily to provide a well-rounded education to our students. They encourage, support, cajole, and motivate students to embrace their own learning. They plan lessons, they develop activities, they look for real-world applications, and they care about what students are accomplishing. Our students are our mission, and we want nothing but the best for each one.

Image result for effortHowever, learning is dependent
upon the student as well. Students must be willing to put forth the effort to acquire the knowledge and skills in order to provide evidence of their learning. That means students must be both physically and mentally present. They must be attuned to what they are being asked to accomplish. They must ask questions if they don't understand. They have to be willing to put in the time and effort in order to be successful in the classroom. If asked to place yourself on the "Effort Meter," where would you fall?

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It is easy to see the fruits of student effort outside the classroom. The Colt football team demonstrated tremendous effort during this football season. Our band, cheerleaders, and JROTC students have put forth great effort to be successful in their own right as well as in support of one another. Many students are active in clubs and other organizations where they are realizing success not only in being recognized but also for participation. It is great to be a part of group that shares common goals and interests. How I would like that same attitude toward the classwork our students are asked to do each day!

The first semester of the 2018-2019 school year will end December 21st. With willing attitudes and effort, every student can achieve academic success. Remember, success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. Ray Lewis said, "It has nothing to do with talent, and everything to do with effort! Wins and losses come a dime a dozen. But effort? Nobody can judge that. Because effort is between you and you." You've got this! #WeAreRivercrest

Monday, November 12, 2018


It's fall, y'all! This time of year is truly a time to slow down a bit and give thanks for the many blessings we all have in our lives. From the smallest to the grandest, I've listed some of my special school moments for which I am most thankful:

Photo by Chelsi Hardin
  • daily greetings from students when I walk down the hall - makes me smile!
  • multi-color flip chart markers

  • displays of student work posted in hallways
  • a student who returns the $20 bill that another student unknowingly dropped from his pocket
  • stromboli served in the cafeteria
  • teachers working with one another to develop a plan to meet the needs of a particular student
  • pictures in front of the green screen of students dressed for a special day
  • See You at the Pole events
  • industry and college tours for students
  • band performances
  • tea parties in the Family Consumer Science room
  • colleagues who support one another and enjoy one another's company  
  • JROTC community service
  • technology that works - 99.9% of the time!
  • shiny hallway floors
  • Rivercrest Voices singing at community events
  • completed projects (almost!) - stadium, bus shop, locker room, door replacements ...
  • perfect attendance celebrations
  • football players carrying flags to honor our veterans
  • college acceptance announcements
  • Fall Break - I hope everyone enjoys time with family and friends! I know we will all come back renewed and refreshed to finish the semester strong!
Rivercrest School District - I hold this district near and dear to my heart. It is the place where I graduated from high school, where I began my teaching career, and where very special children (including my grandchildren) attend. What an honor it is to serve in this community! #WeAreRivercrest

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Professional Learning Communities at Work

Rivercrest Elementary was selected to participate in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) pilot project through the Arkansas Department of Education. On-site consultants are working with faculty to refine curriculum in mathematics and literacy as well as providing support for strong instructional strategies. We are striving to address four critical questions:

  • What do we want students to know and be able to do?
  • How will we know if they are learning?
  • What will we do if they are not learning?
  • What will we do for the students who already know their work?
We have been challenged to revisit our mission, vision, and collective commitments as we strive to meet the rigorous goals that have been set. We are "smack dab in the middle" of a continuous cycle of improvement! We are examining our curriculum, analyzing student achievement, and determining our next instructional steps based upon the data. I can't think of a better methodology to meet the needs of our students. Our ultimate goal is to create an environment of high expectations and intensive support in which each student is able to achieve. 

Heather Friziellie - Solution Tree
We are striving to expand this work throughout the district. We are evaluating what is working well - as well as assessing opportunities for growth. We are considering the structures that we have in place - including scheduling, course offerings, and services provided. Many of the initiatives are working as designed, but we realize there is room for improvement in other areas. After all, we are a learning organization. We will continue to learn and to grow and to impact student achievement in a positive manner. As we reflect upon our mission, vision, collective commitments, and goals, I know that we will gain insights for working collaboratively to ensure the future-readiness of all of our students. #WeAreRivercrest

Monday, October 22, 2018


The Rivercrest School District is continually striving to improve teaching and learning opportunities in order to help all students achieve success.  I have highlighted some key moments below.

  • Teachers are not settling for students' lack of effort. I can think of more than one teacher who has encouraged a student to "re-do" an assignment - and the student was able to to truly demonstrate what had been learned. Oh, how I wish ALL students would give their best every effort the first time - every time!
  • Numerous students in the elementary were recognized for both academic achievement and perfect attendance. I appreciate the parental support for helping those students in their endeavors.
  • Lower elementary students used Book Creator to make classroom books. The students were the authors and the illustrators, and they did a fantastic job. 
  • Rivercrest Voices performed at the Johnny Cash Music Festival and did a great job singing not only the Rivercrest Alma Mater, but also a collection of songs highlighting Johnny Cash.
  • High school teachers are analyzing their curriculum as well as student data. They are looking for ways to better support high levels of student learning.
  • And what about the Rivercrest Band? Those students have worked extremely hard, and their competitions scores are the best the band has ever received.
  • Elementary teachers are continuing to learn about the Science of Reading through the RISE Initiative. I'm excited that our students are learning from the most well-trained staff ever!
  • The football concession stand is nearing completion! It is going to be great to have this round of construction projects finished. 
This first nine weeks of school is in the books! I'm looking forward to the activities that come with the second nine weeks: enjoying the Fall Festival on November 3rd, finishing strong in football, beginning basketball, and relaxing during a week-long fall break. Those activities help round out the full experience of our school community. However, we will never lose sight of learning targets as we strive for continual improvement. #WeAreRivercrest

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


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10 Reasons to Buy a Rivercrest Yearbook
#10 - Who wouldn't want to have a lasting reminder of their fabulous hairstyle and their current fashion statements?

#9 - What other publication will you ever own where people have written all kinds of wonderful things about you?

#8 - Who knows, you might actually end of with the autograph of someone who becomes famous?

#7 - Your yearbook will serve as a great reference to figure out who all the "old" people are at your high school reunions.

#6 - The yearbook will entertain your future children as they look back at your pictures!

#5 - Social media posts come and go!  Snapchat and Instagram posts are fleeting moments. The high school yearbook is an analog book that chronicles all school activities.

#4 - The yearbook is a conversation starter! It can serve as reference when someone's name is mentioned. Now, who was that guy in the junior class who...? Do you remember our science teacher...? Who was on the football team?

#3 - Someday you may have to prove to someone that you actually were on the basketball team! or the cheer squad - or in the band - or in the library club - or.... The yearbook connects the person you are now to the person you become in ten or twenty (or thirty or forty +) years.

#2 - The yearbook is a bargain! You can purchase a yearbook in October for only $35.00.  If you wait until November, the price goes up to $45.00, and in January it will cost you $55.00. Buy one now! Just think for only $55.00 tops you can have a priceless treasure that only becomes more meaningful over time.

#1 - Bottom line, the yearbook is truly a keepsake that one values more and more with each passing year.

Yearbooks can be purchased from

Yearbook staff members will also be more than happy to sell you a yearbook.

You don't want to miss out on an opportunity to display your Colt Pride because #WeAreRivercrest!