For our last newsletter, we talked with Co-Director Debbie Galusha about improvements to our academic services since she joined the school 10 months ago.  Here’s some of what we learned:

The school has recognized the wide array of responsibilities of “Head of School” by expanding it to two “Co-Head” positions.  While Rick Juliusson takes care of outreach and shares the typical director duties, Debbie is able to put much more focus on academics and meeting teacher and student needs, including:

  • Regular classroom observation, teacher evaluation and mentoring to help teachers reach learning goals
  • Direct tutoring of students to prepare for SAT exams, provide remedial help,  and even launch a “Saturday School” for students not completing assignments or needing extra help
  • Support teachers in creating benchmarks and “sequencing” for all subjects, ensuring a smooth transition between grades and students entering high school with all the necessary background.

Some new or expanded initiatives include:

  • Kindergarten learningPart-time ESL teacher (new position) to support the growing number of local students who do not speak English at home and need more support to succeed at our bilingual school
  • Full-time Special Education teacher (formerly part-time) to do direct work with students and provide support and planning with the full team of teachers
  • Half-time assistant (new position) for the grade 3/4 class
  • Study hall continues after school where teachers provide extra instruction and support for completing assignments
  • Professional development – With support from the Cresson Fund, we have contracted expert teacher Rebecca Goertzel to teach effective teaching strategies over the full year
  • Big brother/sister program – popular for all ages!

For our accelerated/gifted students, we have been able to start offering:

  • “Coursera” – free online college courses
  • Kahn Academy – online instruction and exercises for both accelerated and remedial students
  • One student has started an AP Honors course online – the first international student to be admitted to this US-based program
  • Two students were taken to San Jose to write the “PSAT”, helping them identify what areas need more study before the full SAT’s, and making them eligible for the National Merit Scholars program.
  • We are now certified to administer SATs onsite, and hope to do PSATs next year

Yes we have a lot of fun here (such as Debbie skipping, below).  The blog and Facebook posts are often about our Coffee House, Service Days, sports, etc – they’re a lot easier to take photos of!  But our focus on academic excellence is unwavering.  Thank you Debbie!

Debbie Galusha, Co-Head of Monteverde Friends School - initiates academic enhancements as well as fun!