2008-2009 MESPA Minnesota School of Excellence
|Darren Schuler, principal, Delano Elementary School|
Delano Public Schools, ISD #879
“Our district’s vision states that ‘Educational Excellence is our
Foremost Goal.’ This statement resonates with our staff, parents and
community who work together to promote continued academic excellence.”
Darren Schuler is the principal of Delano Elementary School, a preK-4 institution located 27 miles west of the Twin Cities, serving approximately 770 students. From the Children Are Learners murals in the centrally located media center space to the organization of grade level commons and classroom areas, the school’s bright and modern facility provides a positive, caring, and exciting environment where learners flourish. Delano Elementary takes its mission—to educate individuals into lifelong learners possessing the skills, knowledge, creativity, self-worth, and citizenship necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing society—very seriously.
In acknowledging the MN School of Excellence recognition, Schuler said: “Our district’s vision states that ‘Educational Excellence is our Foremost Goal.’ This statement resonates with our staff, parents and community who work together to promote continued academic excellence. Delano Elementary’s tradition of academic success is truly a team approach. We have a supportive school community and a dedicated teaching staff that take pride in providing the best possible educational experience for its children.”
Delano Elementary’s Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores, that consistently rank among the highest in the state, reflect the outstanding academics achieved by students and staff. The skilled staff is committed to delivering a high quality educational program in a well-organized and disciplined climate. That educational program offers a coordinated curriculum including math, reading, written language, spelling, social studies, and science. Beyond these basics, students also receive instruction from specialists in physical education, music, media skills, and in technology.
The curriculum and special programs at Delano Elementary reflect a commitment to providing educational experiences that prepare learners for the world beyond school doors. Emphases on advancing education through technology and providing educational opportunities to expand global awareness are two initiatives that demonstrate those values. Over a five-year span, the elementary school is in the process of installing SMART Boards and sound-field systems. With a teacher-in-residence from China, Delano Elementary has incorporated Mandarin Chinese language instruction and cultural exposure opportunities to students in every grade level through short specialist units. Some examples of innovative and collaborative practices geared toward student achievement are: the Fathers Read Every Day (FRED) program, a Title I initiative implemented to promote a culture of readers; a subscription to the Reading A-Z online program to provide leveled readers to students at a variety of reading competencies; the Adventure Club after school and summer school targeted services programs; visiting author/illustrator lyceums each February; and a school-wide residency cycle that brings programs and resources into the building and encompasses every area of the curriculum.
The Talent Development program at Delano Elementary serves gifted and talented students in grades k-4. Students are provided opportunities through school-wide enrichments and pullout units, with participation maintained through teacher recommendation and parent referral and formal identification completed in fourth grade. Several programs are available to challenge high potential students across a variety of content areas, such as math, reading, writing, reasoning, and creative expression.
Delano Elementary fosters a strong relationship with its parent and community members. The staff, students, and parents work together to create partnerships essential for learning, resulting (among other benefits) in better attendance, improved behavior, increased educational outcomes, and a safer learning environment. Many of the elementary teachers take advantage of a program called “Lunch with Seniors.” This community-outreach program schedules one classroom per month to visit the community senior center at lunch and socialize with the senior citizens of the community. The luncheon usually ends by students reading to the seniors, performing a reader’s theater skit, or performing a short music concert. In addition, monthly trips are taken to the local long-term care facility, where the students and residents engage in reading, crafts, games, singing, and interviews.
to the school’s mission is a parental support program provided through the local parent-teacher organization, as well as a large cadre of parent and community volunteers. The Tiger's Tale Publishing Center, staffed and maintained by community volunteers, allows students to turn their own creative stories into books that have a professionally-published look. The Math Lab extends and enriches skills taught through classroom instruction. Volunteers contribute in a variety of essential opportunities, from administering differentiated spelling tests, providing supplemental learning supervising the Math Lab, performing for students in various readers’ theater and guest reader programs, as well as helping teachers with photocopying, hanging up student artwork, and other classroom-based jobs. Delano Elementary School averages over 6,000 hours of volunteer time per year.
|May 15, 2009: Matthew Dorschner (l), chair, MN School of Excellence Program, presents Darren Schuler (principal, Delano Elementary) with a plaque announcing the school's endorsement as a MN School of Excellence.|
Delano Elementary Minnesota School of Excellence Celebration:
May 15, 2009
Delano Elementary School will hold a celebration to honor its Minnesota School of Excellence validation on Friday, May 15 at 1 pm in the Delano Tiger Activity Center. This will be a vibrant, active event – with children, families, school staff, and community dignitaries. Parents are being asked to arrive early to form a welcoming line for Delano Elementary students and staff as they enter the gymnasium.
In addition to the entire elementary student body and community of school parents, special dignitaries include: Minnesota State Senator Amy Koch, Delano Mayor Joe McDonald, Delano Superintendent Dr. John Sweet, school board members, city council members, and Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association MN School of Excellence Program Chair Matt Dorschner. Dorschner will present Delano Elementary with their Minnesota School of Excellence plaque.
In addition to the Minnesota School of Excellence validation, the program will include presentation of the Minnesota School Spotlight award, and a Change for Kids award for the school's designation as the second highest fundraiser. Students will be central to the celebration with each grade level performing two songs accompanied by the high school band.
Special Minnesota School of Excellence t-shirts, donated by Landscape Structures of Delano, will be given to all students and staff.