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New hope, more resources for four schools through $2.5 million "Schools of Hope" grant

Updated: Nov 6, 2018

October 29, 2018 - There are 2.5 million more reasons for hope for four schools as they work toward academic success for all students.

Long Branch, Hyde Park, Rutledge Pearson and Susie E. Tolbert elementary schools will be among only 14 schools throughout the state to receive the "Schools of Hope: Whole School Transformation" grant. The grant for the district is in total of $2.5 million and will be distributed among the four schools over the next two years.

With an additional $2,000 per student, the grant will provide the schools an opportunity to expand their academic programs and support the following programs and initiatives necessary for continued student growth and increased academic achievement.

Resources to support high academic and character standards

AVID Elementary program

AVID is a Leadership Academy program that has a successful track-record in Duval County middle and high schools. The implementation of AVID Elementary into daily instruction will support teachers in providing students with an understanding of concepts and skills to support their journey to college readiness. The program's base components include teaching students how to inquire, collaborate, organize, and read for learning.

Character education

To support the continued development of students learning to be resilient, the schools will be implementing a comprehensive character education program. Schools will focus on seven essential traits: kindness, curiosity, belonging, confidence, hope, courage and friendship. The grant will support the purchase of classroom 7 Strengths Library, and an increased partnership and use of the Stanford Harmony and Buddy Up.

Increasing student background knowledge

Experiential learning activities consist of real or virtual field trips that solidify concepts learned in class with the assistance of increased classroom technology resources. These learning experiences will be used to deepen students background knowledge. Virtual field trips, where students participate in individual virtual tutoring, will utilize Yoga Laptops. Group activities include virtual exploration on smart boards purchased with grant funds.

Resources to support teachers

Developing teachers and instructional support staff

Teachers will have opportunities to engage in learning sessions that are founded in proven practices to prepare their students for success. This includes how to effectively guide and cultivate student ownership of their learning and developing proven strategies for strengthening relationships with their students, parents, and community partners.

Recruit, retain and reward incentives

These schools want to ensure students are receiving a quality education and teachers are getting equally recognized and supported. For this reason, the schools plan to recruit and retain teachers by implementing sign-on bonuses, annual retention bonuses and providing classroom enhancement funds for teachers to purchase necessary classroom resources for projects or activities they otherwise would not be able to provide to their students.

Resources to support families

Hiring a part-time Parent Liaison and a full-time Early Warning Coordinator

The new Parent Liaison will establish connections between the classroom and the home by working with parents and other stakeholders to ensure communication stays consistent. The Early Warning Coordinator will personally case-manage students identified as "at-hope" based on weekly Early Warning System reports.

Foundations of Family Engagement

This professional development program introduces research collected over the past 20 years for effective family-school partnerships. The main goal is to demonstrate how certain types of family engagement positively impacts student learning. This session will kick off a series of exercises where staff will learn about conditions that must be present to provide a solid foundation for building effective family partnerships.

Pictured above are Ms. Melanie Jackson with her fourth-grade class at Long Branch Elementary followed by Ms. Caroline Craft with her fifth-grade class, Ms. Dyneshia Thomas with her third-grade class and Ms. Pamela Evans with her fifth-grade class at Hyde Park Elementary.


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