Paulie Vogrinec may be new to being a principal this year, but her experience as a teacher shows through in the way she and her staff have been providing educational insights to students during a very tough time, when anything that is done must be done with care.
“We began the year with advancing our Second Steps program,” said Vogrinec. “Our school counselor (Cassie Bailey) has been going into the classes and teaching students about being a respectful listener and a respectful learner.”
Second Steps is a program that was purchased for most of the elementary schools in Carbon School District by The Care Coalition. It is a curriculum that concentrates on the social, emotional and mental health development of students.
“We have tied it into our behavior program and students earn tokens based on a rubric about the things being taught,” she said. “We have a theme for each month (October is bullying prevention) and then at the end of the month we have our Warrior award assembly to showcase student who have gone above and beyond with learning and practicing those skills. Last month was our first virtual assembly. We had web cams on in the rooms and I was projected onto their smart board using my web camera and a Google slide presentation. In previous years everyone gathered in the auditorium, but this year we had to come up with a way to do that without having a large gathering. When we first logged in they were all waving at me and it was really exciting and very successful.”
Another area of concentration has been art. The art teacher, Mrs. Scow, has come up with a way so all can see what some of the students have been doing without even having to come into the building.
“As you come onto the school grounds the fences are lined with the students art work,” explained Vogrinec. “Mrs. Scow, our art specialist, worked with the older kids to do pixel art. They had to graph out what they were going to display on paper through a small drawing and then they had to transfer that art onto the school fences. The work on this included doing the math to design it so it could be transferred. It also gave them the opportunity to be outside and get some fresh air at the same time.”
With some of the lower grades the art specialist is using a theme of ‘Make Your Mark’ this year. Students have done chalk art on the sidewalk and students have also done self-portraits of themselves which are very unique and are hanging outside classrooms in the school halls.
Vogrinec also explained that the leveled reading program is going well and they are using the same procedure as was used last year where when students raise their reading a level. Students bring a paper to her office where they get a gumball out of the gumball machine and a get to add a sticker to gumball machines in the hallway.
“The school really didn’t get to finish that last year and so we decided to continue it this year,” she said. “The students are just flying through levels, despite the setback of school being paused last year and the slide in reading many had during that time and over the summer. The hard work they are doing is really impressive.”
The school is also having movie nights for families and the first one was held on October 8. The program is a PTA function and it is being done safely with social distancing and masks.
“The PTA worked it out with the health department, including getting food handlers permits to provide an evening meal for those who come to the event,” she stated. “They taped off areas for families to sit together and socially distance from others. The students also got to vote on which movie they wanted to see.”
Vogrinec said that as a new principal she has been happy to see the way school started so smoothly despite the conditions everyone is under, and that this year they are doing their best to carry on past traditions and add to them as they go.
“The students have been really good about wearing their masks,” she said. “And many students whose parents had initially decided to have their kids stay home and do things virtually have now sent their students back to us. It think a lot of them were holding back, waiting to see how it was going to go and what was going to happen. It’s been really nice to have those students come back and join us.”