Monday, September 17, 2018

Parent Advisory Committee 2018


I need your help!

Five years ago we started a Parent Advisory Committee (PAC). We have had several parents take part in these PAC meetings. We typically organize four meetings each school year and try to target dates that do not conflict with other activities. These meetings usually last around an hour.

These meetings have opened communication between our school district and parents.  The topics you can expect at these meetings are insight on current initiatives, feedback from you on our school programs, and a book discussion (you don’t have to read the book to participate).

Please go to the link below if you are interested in taking part in this opportunity.

Parent Advisory Membership Link:

We are looking to schedule our first meeting date in November. If you are interested in taking part in a conversation to improve our schools please visit the link above by October 5, 2018.

Parents play a key role in their child’s success in school.  I am looking forward to hearing feedback from you and building better relationships within our school community.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Rugby Public School District to begin offering literacy programming to child care providers.

Literacy is “The quality or state of being literate, especially the ability to read and write.” (

A synonym for literacy is learning.  Dr. Seuss said it so well, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 

Rugby Public Schools has received a Striving Readers’ Grant. By bringing together people from various entities within Pierce County, a review was conducted of literacy programming from birth to grade 12.  Although our current literacy programming is more than satisfactory, various inconsistencies were discovered throughout the entire program. 

The goal for this grant is to powerfully come together from various entities within our county and simply enhance the ability to read and write and learn for all children, intentionally.

Mrs. Gail Rham and Mrs. Karen Black will be teaming together for the next three years to help facilitate this promising powerful growth within our community in teaching literacy.  Mrs. Rham and Mrs. Black each have over 30 years of educational experience with a particular interest in laying the foundation for literacy growth.

Our focus this coming year will be in early literacy for those children from birth to age 5. We will meet with daycare providers, our public library, and social services and identify literacy needs, discuss how we will strive to provide those needs, and seek continuing education for all early childhood care givers and facilitators.  We will explore and research literacy curriculum for early childhood, create literacy lessons, model delivery of literacy lessons, assess and measure our outcomes, as well as provide daycare providers with research-based knowledge of literacy goals and milestones for children ages 0-5.

Thank you for your willingness to join us as we promote literacy growth in our community!

Mrs. Gail Rham and Mrs. Karen Black

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Ely Elementary at Capacity

The Rugby Public School District is experiencing considerable growth at Ely Elementary School. This school year we are expecting 345 students to walk through the hallways at Ely Elementary.  This is very positive news for our school district. From 1990 to 2006, district enrollment had decreased dramatically. In 2006, Ely Elementary enrollment was at an all-time low of 234 students. We are now approaching enrollment numbers that date back to the early 1990s.

Increased enrollment presents challenges. Ely Elementary is at capacity with our current enrollment. We have now expanded three grade levels to three sections. This means we have added three additional teachers and classrooms over the past seven years. The latest section addition removed our computer lab and technology will now be pushed into classrooms. Currently, every nook and cranny is being used to deliver services to our students.

Every five years the school district completes an enrollment study through RSP and Associates.  RSP studies our community’s changing demographics and provides enrollment projections up to five years in the future. They have been very accurate in projecting our actual enrollment in the past. The current projection has Ely Elementary increasing to around 360 students by 2020-2021. This will force us to create at least two additional classrooms. At this point, we are out of classroom space for the projected enrollment increase. The school district will need to respond to meet the demands of increased enrollment.

You may have attended Ely Elementary in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s and wondering why we are at capacity when classes were larger at that time. As mentioned previously, our enrollment numbers have spiked to numbers that we haven’t seen since the early 1990s. It is important to understand that education has changed drastically over the past 15-20 years. Prior to the 2008-2009 school year, kindergarten was an every other day program. During the 2008-2009 school year, kindergarten expanded to an everyday program. This increased the number of classrooms needed to support the new kindergarten population. Special education services have expanded to meet the varying needs of students. Specialized services for occupational, physical, speech and mental health therapies have expanded. Learning is becoming more personalized and more focused on the well-being of the whole child. In the past, it wasn’t unheard of to put 30 students in a classroom. Parents want smaller class sizes for their children. All these changes in education require a space that fits our student’s needs.

During the August 7th board meeting, the Rugby Public School Board voted to contact an architect to develop a concept and provide a cost that will address our needs at Ely Elementary. A stakeholder committee will be created to help develop a plan to address our space needs. Our enrollment growth shows that our community is healthy and vibrant. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Rugby Public School District Receives a Striving Readers Grant!

The research is clear on the importance of literacy. It is particularly important for students to develop early literacy skills to be successful in school. If a student is not at grade level for literacy by grade three, we know that they are at risk of struggling throughout their school experience. If they are below grade level in literacy, they will more than likely struggle in all other academic areas. It is imperative that we identify and intervene early to help students have a successful school experience.

Over the past six months a group of teachers, community stakeholders, our two principals, and I have been working on the North Dakota Striving Readers Grant application. It is a federal grant aimed at  improving literacy from birth to grade 12. Our district was selected to move past the first round and were invited to complete the official grant application in March. We held several meetings and worked with community stakeholders to design a plan based on stakeholder feedback. The grant application was submitted on June 29th and we were notified on July 23rd that we were approved for $660,000.

We brought together over 20 people from various entities (Infant Development, Right Tracks, Head Start, Rugby Public School District, Public Library, Daycare providers, Social Services, Pierce County Health, and Lone Tree Special Education) in Pierce County to review our literacy programming. Our focus was to conduct a literacy audit from birth to grade 12. This process has been an eye opening experience for our school district. Through this process we discovered various inconsistencies throughout our literacy program. We also discovered how powerful our program could be if all of these different entities worked in unison.

We identified the following areas for improvement and grant dollars will help support our growth across the birth to grade 12 continuum.
  • Purchase and provide high quality curriculum to support best practices in literacy instruction. 
  • Improve coordination between agencies on literacy (Rugby Early Learning Center, Social services, Right Tracks, Infant Development, Lonetree Special Education, Heart of America Public Library, Faith-based organizations, Prairie Village Museum, Village Arts, etc).
  • Improve child care support services: For example: provide traveling literacy centers, trained individuals who provide literacy rich experiences to children in day care settings, sensory experiences, social and emotional learning, and quality professional development on early literacy.
  • Organize community support services: provide high quality books and promote Imagination Library, traveling literacy centers, trained individuals who provide literacy rich experiences to children at the public library, social and emotional learning, and sensory experiences.
  • Provide quality professional development to ALL child care providers, support staff, community literacy leaders, and faculty on literacy.
  • Creation of literacy events and activities that are convenient for parents that occur throughout the year.
  • Emphasize communication practices, create opportunities for parental involvement, provide clear guidance/education for parents in regard to developmental milestones, address parental apathy, and provide parental support in navigating the system. 
Over the next three years we will be hiring two new positions to coordinate literacy activities and develop a multi-tiered support system for the Rugby Early Learning Center, Ely Elementary, and Rugby High School. We will also be hiring an on site literacy consultant to provide coaching and share best practices with our support staff and teachers. We are excited for this opportunity and I am personally thankful for all of the people who helped contribute to this grant application!