Local schools continued success in classroom rewarded

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Two local elementary schools are continuing their traditions of success in the classroom.

Locust Lane and Longfellow Elementary Schools in Eau Claire were recognized by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as “Wisconsin Title I Schools of Recognition” for the 2016-2017 school year.

Wisconsin Title I Schools are schools that have high numbers or percentages of families that receive free or reduced lunches. The schools that get this award need test scores above the state average. And these two schools have been achieving that feat year after year.

The 2016-2017 school year is the 8th straight award for Longfellow and the 6th for Locust Lane.

Laura Schlichting, the principal at Locust Lane, says even though the students might come from difficult home situations, like living paycheck to paycheck and not always having food on the table when they’re hungry, expectations still remain high.

“We do our very best that our focus is on learning and making sure that the kids are achieving the way we expect them to,” Schlichting said.

Aimee Dunn, a 5th grade teacher at Locust Lane, says a huge advantage for the students is having a good teacher to student ratio.

“And when you have kids who are coming from really stressful circumstances, building relationships with those kids to help them through stressful times is really important,” Dunn said. “The smaller ratio between students to teachers that you have, the stronger those relationships can be.”

The focus for both schools isn’t getting recognition for their success; the focus is the students.

“Someone had asked, ‘Would you be surprised if you didn’t get it?’ I hadn’t thought about it that way because that’s not our focus,” Sarah Lynch, the principal at Longfellow, said.

“(There are) just so many different entities that go into working with these kids; there’s constant collaboration amongst our teams and with the other teachers that kids will work with throughout the day,” Jason Krista, a kindergarten teacher at Longfellow, said.

Both schools say getting this recognition has a lot to do with the communication between the students and the teachers and the students themselves.

“I think that the first step is building a strong team between the teachers,” Dunn said. “The fact that teachers can share between others what’s working and what’s not working in the classroom can be a pretty vulnerable thing for a staff to do.”

Teachers from both schools will head down to Madison on May 1st to receive the award.

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