Chesy Elementary honored for working with students with disabilities

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

CHESAPEAKE - Teachers at Chesapeake Elementary have something other than their students of which to be proud.

They have been awarded the Walter-Horn Award by the Ohio Department of Education for work with students with learning disabilities.

"This is the most prestigious award this elementary has ever received," Principal Jack Finch said.

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The entire team of teachers will go to Columbus on Oct. 19 to be honored.

The school is receiving the honor in the area of curriculum or standards. The team was trained by Libby Mayo who was the educational assessment coordinator for Pilasco-Ross. Mayo worked there for 9 years and retired on July 1.

"I do not have words enough to say the great things she has done," Finch said.

Mayo, whom Finch calls "the great one," saw the team through the entire process. Mayo said it started with a mass in-service and she also came onsite to help the teachers who had special concerns.

The training consisted of monthly onsite training where the teachers looked at what they could do differently with their students, wrote up step-by-step plans and kept records. If teacher's plans were not working, they changed them.

"It was fun to watch them grow making changes," Mayo said. "People usually resist that. They were willing to make changes."

Mayo explained that one thing that happens when you first make a change, there is also an attitudinal change and most of the teachers were willing to do that soon.

The program was a statewide program that started as a pilot program.

"No one made them do it, it was a lot of extra work," she said. "There was no pay involved, no incentives besides the kids doing better."

Marsha Ater is a third grade intervention teacher.

Ater works with students in the area of reading and math. The students, who are in a small group situation, work on fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, strategy, math skills and any other areas they may need assistance with.

Ater said that Mayo was a huge help to the team.

The group takes any student that is struggling, but Ater said that most of the time they are recommended by a teacher or parent. Ater said that she feels that some students feel more comfortable being in a small group, where they may also feel more comfortable speaking out and asking questions.

"We're very excited, very thrilled to be a part of that," Ater said of receiving the award. "I think it's a great honor."

Resource teacher Debbie Riggs agreed with Ater that the children feel freer to speak up in the smaller groups. Riggs also said that sometimes it is just a matter of reteaching the students.

She likes the program because she can begin helping the students right away instead of waiting for evaluations and she said that they can service any students.

Riggs said she wasn't all that surprised about her team winning the award, because they all worked hard for the students.

"I wasn't surprised," she said. "My team works really hard. I think that's cool."