Award Info & Nomination Link
The JCPS Difference Maker Award is presented to district staff members and community partners who've gone above and beyond to serve our students, staff members and schools. Difference Makers are individuals, teams or groups who have made (or are making) a difference in our district. Nominate a Difference Maker here!
JCPS will thank all Difference Makers nominated, and some, like those pictured below, will be recognized monthly at the JCPS Board of Education meeting. We love to spotlight Difference Makers that are tied to each of our three organizational pillars: Learning, Partnerships and Stewardship.
JANUARY 2019 DIFFERENCE MAKERS
Simonsen 9th Grade Center - English Team
To help with the #JCReads movement, the Simonsen English team created the Simonsen Reading Outreach program, which they are currently implementing this year. This eight-week program paired students at Simonsen Ninth Grade Center with students at East Elementary School. In preparation for meeting the buddy readers at East, Simonsen students selected children's books that were age appropriate for elementary students. Simonsen students then spent four weeks practicing the reading of their selected children's book and honing skills such as making inferences, making predictions, summarizing, recognizing vocabulary, and understanding theme. They also practiced read-aloud skills such as fluency, pitch, tone, pace, and eye contact. Once they perfected these skills, they visited East Elementary to read the children's books aloud to their reading buddies. This event was full of energy and excitement as both the freshmen and elementary students got to know each other while reading children's literature.
During the next four weeks, Simonsen students wrote their own children's stories learning about concepts such as setting, character, problem, and theme. They also practiced writing skills such as developing a beginning, middle, and end as well as revising and editing their writing. Once their written stories were complete, they developed comprehension activities to do with the elementary students after reading their written books to them. East Elementary students then came to Simonsen to listen to the newly written children's books and to engage in the comprehension activities developed by the freshmen. Again, this event was a positive experience for all students involved; Simonsen students were excited to share their work with their reading buddies, and East students were excited to visit the high school students and to hear their stories.
The goal of this program is to foster relationships among students in the various grade levels, to help instill a love of reading, and to improve the reading skills for the freshmen students involved. Of the freshmen students who participated in the Simonsen Reading Outreach program, 73% of them increased their reading levels anywhere from 1 to 5 grade levels between the first iReady Diagnostic test in August to the second iReady Diagnostic test in November. We attribute this great success to the innovative instructional design of the Simonsen Reading Outreach program. The Simonsen English team was able to create a program that put relationships first, which inevitably led to student buy-in that resulted in improved academic success in the area of reading. Through their work with the Simonsen Reading Outreach program and through their daily instruction in their classes, the Simonsen English team has fully embraced #JCReads and the district's long-term goal of getting all students to be reading at their grade level. We also are grateful for the willingness of the East School administration and staff to participate in the program with Simonsen!
(nominated by Ben Meldrum)
Richard Smith - First Student
Richard Smith is an employee of First Student and a bus monitor on bus #20 at Moreau Heights. I drove bus #20 last week and noticed Richard going "above and beyond" his responsibility as bus monitor. He went out of his way to connect and greet students while also keeping the line of accountability. He redirected students when needed and stepped off the bus to have a conversation with a parent at two different bus stops. This conversation centered around the idea of a team approach from both home and school for improving student behaviors. Thank you Richard for making a difference on bus #20 as we are definitely "stronger together" with people like Richard.
(nominated by Larry Linthacum)
Carrie Muenks - Dix Road Technology Team
Carrie Muenks recently spent SEVERAL HOURS at Moreau Heights assisting with the connection of a color printer for one of our SPED teachers to assist with her work. We so appreciate all the time she took to work through this process, then to inventory the printers in the building. Carrie was so patient working through things!
(nominated by Sue Haugen)
To view Difference Makers from the previous month, click here. Or, you can find an archive of all past honorees on the left side bar/menu of this page.