As you walk through the hallways of Clara Barton Elementary School and take a look around the classrooms you’ll begin to notice a theme — hard-working students and a dedicated community of faculty, staff, administration and parents — all striving for excellence.
Located at 4600 Rosehill St., Clara Barton is a kindergarten to second-grade school with nearly 660 students.
“Our academic goal is to always get all of our students on grade level in reading and math, so that we can give them the best opportunity to be successful as they go forward with their career,” said principal Colleen Bowen. “Our social and emotional goal was getting our playground up and running and creating a beautiful space that they can come to every day.
“We worked really hard over the summer to make sure we had all the classrooms and hallways painted,” she added. “We have new murals and the picture project that we did with all of their faces hanging in black and white pictures in the building. We did a lot to make sure the students have a beautiful space to not just learn in, but to also play on.”
In the Spring 2019 Publicis Health, a health-care media agency, selected Clara Barton as its community partner for their service initiative. The organization met regularly with school administration and staff to design a service project that would refresh and create beautiful learning environments for the school’s learning community.
“Publicis Health reached out to us to do a day of service with us,” Bowen said. “Through that we were able to get the hallways painted and they also took on the photo project that we’ve been wanting to do for years. They also provided us with 13 murals. In June, they asked us if there was a big project that they could help us with.
“We told them that we would love a playground for our students, but we just couldn’t afford it. The company and the workers really came together and got donations and held auctions, so that they could raise money for the playground. Once we got the money for the playground, Publicis even reached out to Playworks for us.
“Between July and September we got a playground,” Bowen added. “It was one of the fastest turnarounds for a project I have ever seen. While we had some small hiccups along the way, it never really hindered the final outcome. It was just amazing. We’re so grateful for everything that have done for Clara Barton. Our students have been so excited about their new playground.”
On Oct. 13 Publicis Health and Clara Barton hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new outdoor play space complete with a brand new playground structure, outdoor mural artwork, and painted play areas.
“I love the new playground, it’s a lot of fun,” said kindergarten Sofia Rivas. “My class went outside to use the new playground together. I tried everything out there, but my favorite thing to do on the playground was the monkey bars.”
Adding to students’ enthusiasm at Clara Barton are the teachers. While most teachers only have their students for a year, before they move on to the next grade, Alison Walters was able to follow her class last year into the second grade.
“I was able to take my 27 first-graders from last year into the second grade this year,” Walters said. “You spend so much time in the classroom developing relationships and working on routines and procedures and then you have to watch them move on at the end of the school year. When I had the opportunity to have my students again this year, I absolutely took it. In addition to my students last year, I also have six new students; who are also amazing.”
Walters said this school year is all about preparing her students for the upper grades.
“In English language arts, they’ll be writing across all the different genres,” Walters said. “They’ll be writing personal narrative stories, informational books, lab reports, and then they’ll be working on strengthening their opinion writing.
“In reading, we do a lot with thinking about the books we’re reading because the books they’re reading are getting harder,” she added. “We do a lot of thinking about characters and we’ll be doing a lot more in depth informational reading. In social studies, they’ll be learning about the world and community. Everything that my students will be learning this year will be preparing them for what they will be learning in the upper grades.”