Feb 20, 2014 6:33 PM by Akeam Ashford
The Louisiana Department of Education has recognized four St. Landry Parish schools as Top Gains Schools.
The state recognized Central Middle School, Eunice Junior High School, Sunset Elementary, and the Magnet Academy of Cultural Arts for making significant academic growth from one year to the next.
Despite the growth from those four schools, in 2013, the St. Landry Parish School District still dropped from a "C" letter grade to a "D."
St. Landry Parish Superintendent Edward Brown says he can't pinpoint any one area that needs improvement. He says he is working with the entire community to raise that grade.
Faculty and staff at Sunset Elementary believe they are using new methods which have better connected students to the learning process.
Fifth grade whole-language teacher Kathy Donatto has taught every Department of Education change for the past 20-years.
"I think if you meet the child where they are you can grow from there. If they get the chance to show you and exhibit what they know, that can be a starting point," Donatto said.
Donatto says she enjoys the new "Common Core" standards introduce by the state. She feels it allows her to develop the skill sets students already have.
"I like Common Core because it gets the students to express what they need and connect with the class. It's done in small groups, so they can help each other. I think their input is very valuable," Donatto said.
Sunset Elementary Principal Marquet Rideau says she has engaged the entire community in the learning process.
"I always tell the students that we're better than a 'D.' They know we have raised our school's performance score to a 'C' this year. I really think they're up to the challenge in moving forward, and I believe our scores will improve again this year," Rideau said.
Schools can earn points by improving student yearly state assessments and increasing low performing students overall class performance.
With the help of parents, Rideau created the I-Leap Lock-in, an overnight study session that targets a students specific weakness.
"At the event, we set up four different sessions. We have one session of ELA, one session of math, one session of science, and one session of social studies. It allows the student the extra time with questions they'll see on the test in the spring.
Rideau says the award is a community achievement.
"It's a close knit community and it's a close knit school. Every morning on the intercom we tell the kids that we love them and we want the best for them. It helps them start their day off the right way," Rideau added.
Rideau says she is working with other principals in the parish to develop strategies they hope will grow the entire parish.