Elementary students love to master different skills — whether it is writing sentences, perfecting math skills, reading books — and they will initiate efforts on their own just to practice. At John M. Patterson Elementary School, teachers are making sure their students master their skills through the school’s various programs.
“I love to read and in my class we read a lot,” said second-grader Jameellah Kaba. “I really like going to Patterson. The teachers are great and there are so many different things to do here.”
Fourth-grader Ejatu Bah likes participating in the music program at Patterson.
“I like music because we get to play guitars this year,” Bah said. “I would also like to learn how to play the violin. So far in my guitar class, I’ve learned how to play the strings using different methods.”
Patterson, a Pre-K to fourth-grade school with nearly 655 students, is the latest school to have the Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI), a program geared toward students in grades K-3.
“Patterson is continuing to find different ways to evolve as a school,” said principal Kenneth Jessup. “CLI helps us with our reading program that we already have here. The rooms are set up where they are 100 percent conducive for learning, teaching and reading. We have small groups throughout the classroom. We also have guided reading groups.
“The students know what their stations are and what they are supposed to do,” he added. “We want to continue to build the entire learner and teach the entire student. The students who attend Patterson not only enjoy their tenure at the school, but they also move on to great schools being fully prepared to succeed.”
Students in Jessica Gibbs’s third-grade class are enhancing their literacy skills through various stations set up throughout the classroom.
“In my class, students do various things at different stations at the same time; it also involves a lot of independent work,” Gibbs said. “Some students will be working on Lexia, a computer-based reading program, other students will be working on spelling words or reading independently on the carpet. The students also do journal entries and skill review, which may be going over nouns or comparing and contrasting.
“While the students are doing independent work, I work with a group of students who may need additional help with whatever level they are reading at,” she added. “I think the students really enjoy the literacy centers. The literacy center gives them a sense of independence, but it also holds them accountable for what they’re doing and what they’re learning.”
Third-grader Fred Kamara’s favorite center in Gibbs’ class is reading on the carpet.
“I like doing all of the centers, but my favorite one is reading on the carpet,” Kamara said. “I like to read. The book that I like reading the most right now is ‘David.’”
Fourth-grade students in Teia Starks’ class are reading, analyzing and discussing the story of Mary Anning, a scientist who discovered a lot of fossils.
“This year, the students will be reading a whole collection of stories that will expose them to different types of literature,” Starks said. “This will lead to the students boosting their vocabulary to a higher level. The students will learn how to answer those higher-level thinking questions and how to pull out some of the things that the author doesn’t say. They will also do a lot of writing in my class.
“The stories that we’re reading now are connected to science,” she added. “The students recently researched a scientist or researcher and they had to write a paragraph on it. I just did shared reading with them where I read a few pages from a story to them. They would then have to try and pull out the details to describe the person’s life. My goal is to have my students be prepared not just for fifth grade, but for life. I do try to prepare them academically and help them with their social skills. I try to help them as a whole student and not just with academics.”
In addition to academics, Patterson continues to enhance its curriculum through its partnerships and various projects. The school still has partnerships with Heinz Refuge, After School Activities Partnerships, Southwestern Presbyterian Church, Trinity Lutheran Church and Pacifico Ford.
“We are scheduled to get a playground for our school yard,” Jessup said. “We raised over $1 million with the Water Department, Parks and Recreation, Trust Land and some fundraisers that we had here. The groundbreaking was scheduled for January 2017, but that has been pushed back to the spring. That will take six months to finish.
“This year, we also added an emotional support classroom,” he added. “Our job is never done here. We’re always going above and beyond to make sure we provide the best education for our kids. We want Patterson to be the stepping stone of having them invest in their future.”