First Day 2019

First Day 2019
First Day 2019 Music, encouraging signs, cheers, and high fives awaited students at Bon Air Elementary, Pettit Park Elementary, and Bon Air Middle schools as the kindergartners through 8th-graders entered their buildings for the first day of school July 31st. 
Kokomo Schools officials, Kokomo community volunteers, and State of Indiana representatives lined the entrances to the three school buildings to welcome students to the 2019-2020 school year. This “Welcome Committee” included representatives from the Indiana State Board of Education; members of the Kokomo Schools Board of School Trustees; volunteers from Grace United Methodist Church and Second Missionary Baptist Church; Kokomo Schools administrators, including the superintendent and assistant superintendents; Kokomo High School administrators, including the principal and vice principals; members of the Kokomo High School marching band, cheerleading squad, and dance team; and administrators and staff members from the three schools.
These adults and high school students rang bells, waved pom poms, and held up signs with messages, including “Bon Air Rocks”, “Welcome Back”, “Do Your Best!”, “U R Great!” and more.  The band played Kokomo High School’s school song, while church volunteers and Kokomo Schools board members and administrators offered students high fives and encouraging words, such as “Make it a great day!”
“We are astounded by the overwhelming support shown to our students by so many different people,” Bon Air Middle School Principal Amanda Landrum explained, following the celebratory welcome.
The event impacted one student so much that the child’s mother sought out a principal to share the experience.
“From minute one this morning, my child wanted absolutely nothing to do with school,” the mom explained. “Sulked all the way here… But when my child heard the band playing and saw the church volunteers singing and dancing with their pom poms, the face lit up and a big smile showed up! I so appreciate these people and the high school students for welcoming us to school, and making this a great first day!”
Bon Air Elementary School Principal Dr. Paula Concus noted: “Our students loved the greetings and the people. In fact, the students were overwhelmed by the support. I noticed an electricity in the air that was generated by the district administrators and school board members, community members, church volunteers, school staff, cheerleaders, and band members, who gave their time to encourage our students!”
Principal Landrum said this positive experience set the tone for an outstanding school year.
“We are excited to begin a new school year, and we are ready to do school in a new way,” Principal Landrum noted.
In 2018 the Indiana State Board of Education approved a plan to restructure Bon Air Elementary, Pettit Park Elementary, and Bon Air Middle School into a “Transformation Zone.” School and district leadership worked with staff at each building to develop this plan, which includes evidence-based interventions to drive school improvement. 
During the 2018-2019 school year, teachers at the three buildings worked tirelessly to develop a more personalized learning environment by attending regular professional development workshops, and by collaborating to create new and innovative ways of teaching.
First Day 2019
This school year, Pettit Park and Bon Air students will have an extended school calendar, as well as slightly longer school days to allow for additional targeted learning time for all students.
“Hands-on learning is the best type of learning,” Principal Landrum explained. “Students in the Transformation Zone have an extended school calendar to allow for more hands-on activities that often do not fit into a regular school calendar. For example, our middle school students may be in the community completing service projects, or they could be doing short internships with local businesses.”
Pettit Park Elementary School Principal Lyndsi Smith added: “This is a wonderful learning opportunity for our students! Additional days allow our students and teachers to participate in real-life experiences outside the classroom. These days also give us additional opportunities to work closely with our community partners as they support student learning. This time presents us with more chances to build in projects geared toward student interest, so our students can explore career-based education.”
Bon Air Elementary, Pettit Park Elementary, and Bon Air Middle schools have partnered with several community and church organizations to support student and family involvement in the Transformation Zone through a Family Academy. The schools and partner organizations plan to host Family Academy events throughout the school year for the students and their families. 
Ron Sandlin, Senior Director for School Performance & Transformation at the Indiana State Board of Education, noted that the Transformation Zone process began three years ago with a review of the three schools.
“We heard a yearning for support from the community,” Mr. Sandlin explained.
While helping welcome Kokomo’s Transformation Zone students back to school on July 31st, Mr. Sandlin saw that support, and witnessed some of the immediate benefits of the hard work put forth by school officials and staff.
“I believe the Transformation Zone has brought new energy to these students, teachers, and families,” the State Board of Education representative noted.
Mr. Sandlin reiterated that the plan that is guiding these new changes is not driven by the State Board of Education. The state board only endorsed the plan. The interventions are driven by school leaders, and their teachers.
Bon Air Elementary School teacher Casey Jones is thrilled to move forward with the Transformation Zone plan.
“As an educator in the Transformation Zone, I am very excited for the opportunities these changes create for our students,” Miss Jones said. “With the extra time built into the school day, our students will be able to reinforce skills they are developing in new and creative ways.”
Bon Air Middle School teacher Brody Goodnight added, “As educators, our goal is to provide our students with the most relevant career and social skills. Through the Transformation Zone, we have been able to take apart this machine we call education and reassemble it into a new model that we believe gives our students the most benefits in their educational journey.”
Principal Landrum is ecstatic to watch the Transformation Zone plan unfold, because of what it will mean for her students.
“I know the future is bright for Bon Air Middle School students,” Principal Landrum concluded. “This is just the beginning of many great things to come.”
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