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Interim Fifth Ward principal takes community into elementary school’s turnaround plan

RESERVE — Interim Principal Dr. Brandy Vaughn is confident Fifth Ward Elementary School’s 2018-19 academic year will be a story of growth with a series of tangible goals and open door community involvement.

A School Redesign Family Night, scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, is the first of many monthly events giving parents and community members an active role in their children’s education.

Future events will promote family bonding experiences based on stories read in the new Book Club, Vaughn said, citing “drive in” movie nights where families design cardboard cars and a daddy-daughter Beauty and the Beast dance night as examples.

Thursday’s Family Night will set the scene for the year by outlining Fifth Ward’s new programs, funded by a school redesign grant from the Louisiana Department of Education.

The grant divides approximately $73,000 between schools in the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District.

“We’ve been awarded funds, everything we want to do is all timed out, and it’s all attainable,” Vaughn said. “We want to be an open book. We’re here to answer parent and community questions and let them know exactly where the money is going and what we are doing to see our school grow.”

New to this school year are 45-minute daily intervention blocks allowing students to receive remediation in skills identified as deficits in state testing scores.

According to Vaughn, there are also after school tutoring opportunities and a new literacy coach stationed onsite to provide reading intervention to students in kindergarten through second grade.

Third and fourth grade LEAP test scores dictate the school performance score, Vaughn said, making it essential to establish literacy and mathematic proficiency in lower grades.

Book Club is a new initiative targeting first and second graders. Vaughn said literacy will come to life through accompanying art, music and interaction from community members.

Upon being named interim principal, Vaughn contacted community partners for additional resources. One such partner, the LaPlace DuPont Plant, recently donated 25 backpacks to underprivileged children and agreed to refurbish the school library.

A new teacher cohort offers professional development and camaraderie to new instructors, and Vaughn said experienced teachers are also invited to join.

“Data shows new teachers leave the profession after year one if they don’t feel supported,” Vaughn said. “We want to ensure teachers don’t feel burned out or left alone, given the number of new teachers we’ve brought in this year. Turnover has been a big deal at the school.”

For more information about plans for Fifth Ward Elementary, attend Thursday’s meeting or call 985-536-4221.