Unity Elementary School receives School of Recognition Award

BALSAM LAKE - Unity Elementary was recognized in the ‘Beating the Odds’ category due to the school’s high performance in reading and mathematics when compared to similarly-sized schools, classes and student numbers living in poverty across the state.
Ranking in the top 25% of all schools in the state with high poverty levels was quite an accomplishment, but one which staff, families and students should not be surprised about.
The bottom line at Unity, according to Dr. William DeWitt, elementary school principal, is that “a student’s background, family income level, or other challenges, has absolutely no bearing on their success in our school.” According to DeWitt, this is because Unity Elementary’s educational program is intentionally designed to support every student that enters the doors and helps them reach their maximum potential.
Some of the areas of the Unity Model which DeWitt believes have helped the school not only win this award but also score in the ‘Exceeds Expectations’ category on the state report card from last year, include:
• Small class sizes: Each class is less than 18 students, which promotes a closer community, and more personalized attention.
• Integrated social and emotional learning: Unity delivers a school-wide social/emotional curriculum each morning through in-class ‘morning meetings,’ along with a variety of other supports to students such as; school counseling services, social worker, school-based therapy services, nursing services, and small group friendship, art, music and physical education experiences.
• Common expectations: All students are taught to know the common expectations throughout the school, which are positively rewarded and reinforced daily.
• First class title 1 and special education reading and mathematics support services: Any student struggling is quickly identified and supported through intensified services delivered by a variety of instructors.
• Common intervention times: Grade level instructors intervene with struggling students at a common time daily to help all students reach their potential.
• Clear, aligned curriculum and assessments: All students are provided access to curriculum aligned to state standards, grade level power standards, common grade-level assessments and district-wide, standards-aligned standardized assessments.
• Exciting and relevant experiences: Kids are excited to be at school and have fun at Unity - from library services, music instruction, art classes, physical education, free swimming lessons, access to an incredible campus complete with a nature trail, updated playground, greenhouses, athletic facilities and more.
While seeing the school receive such a fantastic award is certainly exciting for everyone, DeWitt thinks what means even more to the staff is having the special privilege of connecting with each child daily, making positive relationships with them and their families, and seeing them smile when they come to our school.
Something that, right now he says, is sorely missed by teachers across the state with the school closures.
The teachers are working hard to get special learning activities and plans in parent’s hands during this time away, but we are really looking forward to the time we get to see all the children’s smiling faces come walking back through the school doors again and help all of them ‘beat the odds’ and gain the recognition and achievement they deserve.

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