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“It Starts With Our Schools” Campaign Thank you to all of our donors. We are currently 82% of the way to our goal of $1 million! Terry Welch, Site Manager of BP America, Inc., presented DCSF with a $25,000 check to the It Starts With Our Schools Campaign. From left: Terry Welch, DCSF Board President Ellen Didier, and DCSF Executive Director Jesslyn Reeves.

Issue 3.0 • Summer 2011

1:1 Netbook Initiative Underway at Decatur City Schools

Think about it. Everything in our community starts with our schools. Our workforce. Residential growth. Our community quality of life. Most of all, the future success of our children starts with our schools. What happens in the next five to ten years in the Decatur City Schools will determine what Decatur looks like in ten years and beyond. Your support of our schools now not only makes our schools stronger, but our community as well. To donate to the Campaign or for more information regarding Campaign Initiatives, please call 256.616.1734 or email

Teachers attend a training session for hands-on learning with the new Dell Netbooks.

Thanks to a $191,480 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $200,000 matching funds from the Decatur City Schools Foundation, every 5th grade student in the Decatur City Schools will have a Dell Netbook computer upon returning to school this August. The 5th Grade 1:1 Netbook Initiative focuses on using technology to aggressively address and reverse trends of declining test scores, declining attendance, and increased discipline referrals that traditionally begin in the 5th grade. This new learning environment will enhance student engagement and better prepare them for 6th grade at a critical

stage in their education. Benchmark studies of other school districts prove positive results in all problem areas, from Grade Point Averages and test scores to attendance and disciplinary issues. “Students will be opened to a world outside the classroom,” said one 5th grade teacher at Walter Jackson Elementary. Other teachers also had positive comments about the impact of the program: “As a tool for individualized instruction, this is remarkable. We will no longer hold many students back to remediate a few;” “The dictionaries in my room were  old and tattered, but now each student has a brand new and constantly updated

digital one;” “Students will enjoy using the Netbook to practice the testing standards needed to increase achievement through fun activities.” The concept for this program was developed by Kathy Rains, the Supervisor of Technology for Decatur City Schools, working closely with at team of board members from the Decatur City Schools Foundation. Making an impact on student achievement through classroom technology and training is one of four focus areas defined by the Decatur City Schools Foundation “It Starts With Our Schools” Capital Campaign.

Innovation Program for Student Achievement Significant measurable results have been seen from piloting the Innovation Program for Student Achievement at Woodmeade Elementary. Upon completion of the third year, the most recent 2010-2011 Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT) showed that Woodmeade reached 100 percent proficiency in 3rd grade math and made gains in all areas in 3rd-5th grades. DCSF is excited to be a part of expanding the program to other elementary schools.

In its first year of implementation at Austinville Elementary, the 2010-2011 ARMT showed 20 percent point gains in 3rd and 5th grade math scores. In addition, 3rd-5th grades made improvements in all areas of reading and math. This initiative combines the leadership skills and goal setting practices of The Leader in Me processes that are already in place with an expanded sustainable, two-year coaching period focused on

increasing student achievement. This two year coaching period includes intensive math and reading teacher training, data analysis training, and incentives and rewards for students and teachers. Stay tuned for more news about this exciting initiative as we make plans to expand to other elementary schools in the district.

P.O. Box 1224 Decatur, AL 35602

City Saver Dining 2010-2011 Board of Directors Card A Success Ellen Didier President Sylvia Betts Vice President David Scott Treasurer Libby Neill Secretary Jeff Brown Tina Burton Nadis Carlisle Lynn Fowler Annie Ruth Harris Gloria Lynne Herring Lisa Jones Jennifer McCain Jim Page Wally Terry Jennifer Wood Ex-Officio Board Members Dr. Sam Houston Karen Duke STAFF Jesslyn Reeves Executive Director Libby Britt Executive Assistant

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School Spotlight: Somerville Road Elementary Shines with Lighthouse Status

Kristin Beach of City Saver presents a check to DCSF. Left to Right: DCSF Executive Director Jesslyn Reeves, DCSF Board member Lisa Jones and Kristin Beach of City Saver. A City Saver Education Funding official presented a check to the Decatur City Schools Foundation for $8,865 for their part in the system-wide fundraising campaign. During the campaign, Decatur City School students in 15 elementary and middle schools sold the City Saver discount card, which contains 15 Buy-One-Get-One free discounts at local favorite restaurants and attractions. “This fundraiser served as a way to get the whole community involved in

supporting our schools,” says Jesslyn Reeves, Decatur City Schools Foundation Executive Director. “It proved to be a win–win effort for us all: the schools, businesses, and families looking to save money. The Decatur City Schools Foundation will use its profits from the fundraiser to support initiatives already established to align with the school district. We look forward to working with City Saver in the future to continue finding creative ways to bring in supplemental funds for schools and Foundation programs.”

Somerville Road Elementary staff proudly display their new Lighthouse School banner. Restaurants and attractions on card included: Alfonso’s, La Hacienda, Francesco’s, City Café, Café 113, Domino’s, Quiznos, Hardees, Charley’s Wing Shak, Arby’s, Zen-Beri, Great American Cookies, and Point Mallard Park. Lookout for the next City Saver Card Sale during the 2011-2012 school year.

DCSF Helps Sponsor DARC Congratulations to the Decatur-Austin Robotics Coalition! The team placed 2nd in the nation at the BEST Robotics National Championships in Orlando, Florida. The Decatur City Schools Foundation donated $5,000 to help send the team to compete. It was the only public school program to place.  The team includes 40 students from Decatur and Austin high schools. For more information on DARC, visit the team website at

Somerville Road Elementary recently became the second elementary school within Decatur City Schools to achieve the honor of Leader in Me Lighthouse status (see “What is a Lighthouse School?” sidebar for more information). With only 16 Lighthouse schools worldwide, this is quite a distinguished honor. Chestnut Grove, the other school within DCS with Lighthouse status, was the second school to achieve this goal. We recently spoke with Mellissa Wiley, facilitator of the Lighthouse team at Somerville Road, about what this achievement means to her, the faculty and the students. DCSF: Becoming a Lighthouse School takes quite a bit of work and dedication from both your staff and students. What does this designation mean to you? MW: We have synergizing activities to show all who enter that it takes everyone working together to accomplish goals and that baby steps are the way to achieve greatness. We have showed students anything is possible when you are proactive, set your goals and work until you achieve them!  We were the 12th school in the nation to accomplish lighthouse status and the only Title 1 school to do this.  We are ecstatic about this accomplishment.   DCSF: How has your school changed since beginning the Lighthouse program? MW:  Our 1942 built school was showing its age and had become dull and drab in appearance.  Now it is full of life. Our revamped Café, media center and Gymatorium have instilled a sense of student pride in our school. Students are finding their own leadership talents and setting goals to achieve excellence in this area.  Parents are taking ownership of their children’s education.

DCSF: Leadership is a big part of becoming a Lighthouse school. How do you reinforce leadership principles at your school? MW: We live the 7 Habits.  You have to walk the walk and talk the talk.  This change in lifestyle has proven successful in our lives, which is seen by the faculty, staff, students and parents.  Being a role model to students has always been the greatest teacher. DCSF: How is  Somerville Road providing meaningful opportunities for Leadership roles and responsibilities for students? MW: Students are the greeters in the mornings as others enter the school as well as in their classrooms.  Each class has leadership roles and responsibilities that are assigned or chosen.  Examples include lunch count helper, office helper, passing out papers, bathroom helpers for paper towels or soap, turn off light helper and cleanup crew to name a few.  Morning announcements are student led with the pledge and habit chant/song for the day. Students help in the Café with clean up during breakfast and lunch.  Students are tutors for their peers.  Students help clean up and beautify the school grounds.   DCSF: #8 of the LIM Lighthouse criteria is Measurable Results. What measurable results at  Somerville Road can directly relate to implementing LIM?  MW: Students set goals to improve test scores, have a plan to reach these goals and take responsibility for this goal.  Having this set goal helps students reach their potential. Attendance has improved - parents and students see the importance of being at school.  Discipline rates have decreased by 33% to date. 

DCSF: #7 of the LIM Lighthouse criteria is Goal Tracking. Besides practicing the 7 Habits daily, the students use planners and DATA notebooks to track their goals. How does this tool impact the students learning? MW: To put it bluntly the DATA notebooks have been heaven sent. They have become a way of life for students and parents.  Events, homework, goal tracking, behavior and daily parent teacher communication is maintained in these notebooks.  They teach students/ parents responsibility and prove leadership roles. Students explain these DATA notebooks; they are our documentation for student ledparent conferences. DCSF: What have been the most rewarding experiences as you’ve implemented this program? MW:  The # 1 rewarding experience was when we made sure all students - 3 years old through 5th grade - had a DATA notebook to aide parent /teacher communication and teach student responsibility. We enjoyed seeing the students’ excitement in the new and improved medical center, Café and Gymatorium.  The pride they all have taken in the 1942 built school has been remarkable. Another experience was when we performed a Parent Night 7 Habits program in February, and we had standing-room only attendance. This opened our eyes to the interest our parents have in supporting their children and our school.

What is a Lighthouse School?

To become a Leader in Me Lighthouse School, the following criteria must be met: 1) Lighthouse Team: A team is in place, meets instruction and curriculum daily. regularly, and oversees school-wide implemen4) Staff Collaboration: Staff works together tation of the leadership model. effectively to build a culture of leadership in 2) Leadership Environment: School environment reinforces the leadership model.

classrooms and throughout the school.

5) Student Leadership: Students are provided 3) Integrated Instruction and Curriculum: Teachwith meaningful leadership roles and responers are integrating leadership language into sibilities. To learn more about the Leader In Me program and the Lighthouse designation, visit

6) Parent Involvement: Parents are involved in activities that support the leadership model and have an understanding of the common language being used at the school. 7) Goal Tracking: A system is in place for setting and tracking goals at the student, classroom, and school-wide level.

PO Box 1224 • Decatur, AL 35602 | 256.616.1734 | |

8) Measurable Results: The school is seeing improvements as a result of implementing the Leader In Me process. 9) Leadership Events: The school is holding events to share their leadership model with the community and other schools.

DCSF Newsletter Summer 2011  
DCSF Newsletter Summer 2011  

Decatur City Schools Foundation Summer 2011 Newsletter PDF