J-M schools earn state Momentum Awards


By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

NORTH JACKSON

Both schools in the Jackson- Milton Local School District are pioneers among their Mahoning County peers.

The Ohio Board of Education designated both Jackson-Milton Elementary and Jackson-Milton Middle schools as Momentum Schools, a new designation that recognizes schools that have exceeded expectations in student growth for the year.

“We got A’s in all categories for Value-Added including economically-disadvantaged and students with disabilities,” said Dave Vega, principal at Jackson-Milton Middle/High School.

Value-added is a measure on the state report card that measures students’ growth for the year. The two J-M schools are the only ones in Mahoning County to earn the award in its inaugural year.

East Palestine Elementary School in Columbiana County and North Road Elementary School in Howland, Newton Falls Middle School, Niles Intermediate School and Warren’s Willard Avenue pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade School, also earned the distinction.

Superintendent Kirk Baker pointed to grade-level meetings among district personnel for their contribution to the achievement.

“We also have Success By 6,” he said. “That’s a collaboration between businesses, the schools and the United Way” of the Mahoning Valley.

Kim Fisk, elementary school principal, believes the district’s small size contributes to the success too.

“We’re a community within a community,” she said.

Baker said he and the principals attend most district sporting and music or theater productions.

“There’s not many districts where the superintendent greets the kids as they’re coming to school,” Fisk said.

Baker said the school district is like the administrators’ second homes.

The district puts a lot of emphasis on formative assessments and differentiated instruction.

Formative assessments allow teachers to determine if studentsgrasp concepts as they’re being taught rather than waiting for a quiz or test.

In differentiated instruction, teachers use different methods – visual, lecture, writing, hands-on – to help students learn material in a way that best suits them.

Sometimes that involves different stations within a classroom, with students learning in a particular way. It might include peer learning with students helping peers to understand material.

Classes with special education students may have a second teacher.

“That helps all of the kids,” the superintendent said.

All three administrators credit the community for the district’s success.

“We’re blessed with good teachers and good kids,” Baker said.

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