Alderman Elementary, not a charter, but still innovative
While charter schools have been designated the innovators of public education, Alderman Elementary School, a Guilford County School under the leadership of Principal Uhlberg begs to differ. Alderman is a small Title I school with approximately 360 students of which are a diverse learning community serving Limited English Proficient students and Advanced Learners. The innovation comes from an experienced principal. Through the Principal for a Day Program, sponsored by Guilfrod Education Alliance I was able to witness this innovation.
Principal Uhlberg an experienced educator knows how to make it happen for his students and community. He recognizes that though his school is not a designated school of choice for Guilford County, his students still must have quality options and has identified some of his own students as gifted. With some budget innovation, he was able to hire a full-time G&T teacher, alumnus of NC A&T to accommodate these learners.
Innovation not only happens in the classroom but first must happen with the school’s budget and a creative principal. Principal Uhlberg uses his data. The students that are on reading level still need to make progress. The county had initially given him a push-in G&T teacher which proved to be less accountable to him and the students. With the will, creativity and support of his regional office he created his own program to accommodate his students with a full-time on staff teacher who is accountable.
I witnessed the 5th grade reading group was engaged with their teacher while she read a book about Ceasar Chavez, then watched a video, discussed Chavez’s life and finalized the class with a writing assignment.
In the library, his librarian was prepared and energetic with her 2nd graders even with technical difficulties with the sound on her computer. The children cooperated and forged on with the song and movements.
With careful review of his ELA data, Uhlberg and his school team noticed a connection between the Latino males and reading. Many of them were below in reading and the females in the same households were on level or above. Culturally, it was suspected many of the fathers in their homes were seen working and not reading as much. The team created an afterschool program using their Title I allocation targeting those families to help these young men meet their reading goals. Needless to say, the families have responded positively.
So who’s to say what’s next for Alderman, as Principal Uhlberg attends UNC, Chapel Hill part-time furthering his education. I look forward to visiting again and seeing the next steps in innovation for Alderman Elementary.