2009 Building Community Award
Each year through the Building Community through Rural Education Award, CREC and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) recognize a rural school or district that has distinguished itself through innovative practices contributing to the educational experiences for the students served, while collaborating with the broader community for the benefit of all.
On Friday, April 24, 2009 CREC, in partnership with PARSS, awarded its fifth annual Building Community through Rural Education award at the PARSS Annual Meeting in State College.
This year the award went to the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center (SCCTC) in Elk Lake School District for its multiple community service initiatives. Biglerville Elementary School in the Upper Adams School District and Bradford-Tioga Head Start received Honorable Mention awards in recognition of their school-community initiatives.
Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center
SCCTC’s larger program initiatives include house construction for Habitat for Humanity, and doghouse building for the Susquehanna County Humane Society. Occupational programs within the school raise funds for a variety of charities, including the American Cancer Society and the United Way of Susquehanna County. Additionally, students raise funds to provide Christmas gifts to families in need.
The school also offers cosmetology services, car inspections, and health checks. In addition, the school serves as a site for adult evening, weekend, and summer courses, as well as personal enrichment classes.
Alice Davis, Administrative Director of SCCTC is proud to keep her building open beyond school hours. She says, “the building’s there; the tax is the same amount of money; let’s just utilize it as much as we can.”
Programs at SCCTC provide the opportunity for school and community members to work together cooperatively to address the needs of both the students and the local community. According to Dir. Davis, “it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Biglerville Elementary School
Biglerville Elementary School in Upper Adams School District won an honorable mention for its kindergarten transition efforts. The school has implemented a comprehensive program called Kinderstart, which involves incoming kindergarteners and their parents in numerous meetings and events during the year leading up to the start of kindergarten.
Their newest addition to the program is a DVD produced by students within the school district. This DVD, filmed from the perspective of an incoming kindergartener, provides families and incoming students the opportunity to learn the layout of the school, the teachers, administrators, and staff, as well as school routines and expectations. The DVD is narrated in both English and Spanish to accommodate all families.
As Tina McGough, a kindergarten teacher at Biglerville explains, it is important to assure parents that the school is a safe, welcoming place for children. “We are here to take care of your child.” According to Kathy Ciolino, principal, the DVD helps the school do just that. “More than anything, it gives people a familiarity with the building, the people, the routines, the expectations, and hopefully a sense of peace that everything’s going to be okay.”
Bradford-Tioga Head Start
Bradford-Tioga Head Start (BTHS) is involved in numerous programs, most notably its Learning Communication Skills Through the Arts, which teaches young children how to communicate their “feelings, needs, and thoughts,” according to Executive Director Eldridge-Martin.
During the program’s initial year, artists taught communication at eighteen of BTHS centers through music, storytelling, dance, visual arts, and dramatic play. In subsequent years, artists have taught the BTHS teachers how to lead future activities, which has expanded the program.
The program has improved students’ cognitive skills, communication skills, language and literacy skills, friend-making abilities, self-control, expression, and physical development in the effort to reduce the academic risks associated with rural children from low income families.
Since 2007, BTHS and master artists from the Learning Communication Skills Through the Arts program have created activities for and home visits for children aged 0-3.
The Center on Rural Education and Communities recognizes each of these winners for their efforts to improve educational opportunities while strengthening the fabric of rural communities.