Coffee with Principal Patty Jorgensen at Roche Elementary on Friday, March 29, was an informational meeting for parents about school goals and programs for the students, besides and light breakfast. Six women attended the meeting, as well Instructional Coach Roni Daniel, who answered questions and ran the slideshow.

Both Jorgensen and Daniel said slide show information is available to parents online from Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) or the California Department of Education. (CDE)

Students were 45 percent below in math performance, and as of the 2018 school year they increased by 17 percent, and they are very excited about the growth. But all schools throughout the PUSD are taking on the math challenge. Jorgensen said Roche is moving up, and PUSD has a very high graduation rate. Santa Fe Elementary scored the highest in math comprehension and J.J. Doyle also increased.

They have developed academic conversations for kindergarten to third graders, teaching them how to ask and answer questions and even using hand gestures similar to sign language. She said the children learn well when moving and enjoy learning the hand gestures. She said there are six different skill sets, and all the kids are working on

it together.

Administrators and teachers add on to the academic conversations and reading programs at every grade level from kindergarten through sixth grade, and sixth grade students have a lot of resources, not just asking and answering questions but in reading and writing.

“We expect them by sixth grade to stand up and deliver, and it will translate into their writing,” said Jorgensen. “They will need to read, write and speak well.”

“As well as teaching students how to ask questions,” added Daniel. “Students also need to learn how to listen.”

The school has a 79% comprehension rate for the English language learners. 

She said the teachers and administrators worked really hard at TCOE learning the Academic Conversations and vocabulary with kindergarten through sixth grade classes, and the kids love using the hand motions to help each other with the process of asking and answering. 

Jorgensen smiles and gets excited and a bit emotional when she talks about the HERO program, which is a positive behavior intervention system (PBIS) that was taught to administrators and staff at TCOE, and said, “It’s a very good teaching tool. All kids want a HERO card.”

Students receive HERO cards once a day at the school. And HERO cards can be dropped off in the school office. They are yellow cards with a student’s name saying they were caught being a Knight with check marks by: Honorable, Engaged, Respectful, and Outstanding. Then signed by a staff member, the date, and their classroom teacher.”

Every Friday Jorgensen picks a Hero card, and on Monday a student gets to eat lunch with the principal in her office and the child can pick whatever they want for lunch. Most of the time it’s McDonald’s.

“It’s pretty fun. We love it. It’s great to see the kids come in and be so excited,” she said.

All of the HERO expectations come from parents, staff, and the students. Jorgensen explained the Positive Behavior Intervention System or PBIS, which the HERO concept is based upon, has been working incredibly well for four years. All the staff went to TCOE to learn about PBIS. The decrease in disciplinary actions, and the increase in academic performance has been wonderful.

“We expect our students to behave this way,” said Jorgensen. “It puts it on the child to want to behave better, to get a HERO card.”

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