BY NICOLE MCGRANE
Barranca Mesa Elementary School
Educator, Mentor, Author, Parent
Over the last 10 years, I have seen Barranca Mesa Elementary go through many changes. We’ve changed principals three times, curriculums twice and numerous other staff members have come and gone. There have been highs and lows throughout these years. The culture has shifted regularly and parents have wavered in their support. As we are beginning this coming school year, I am feeling optimistic.
Not only are we transitioning into a new building but we are coming together as a staff. We have recognized the need to do better and are doing the hard work required to make changes. This transformation is exhibited in our support of each other during construction, our commitment to developing an effective behavior policy, and the creation of core values that will guide us moving forward. These three areas have been a priority for our principal Gina Terrazas. She has spent the summer preparing to make Barranca a closer learning community than ever before.
First, let me discuss construction at Barranca. This has been a trying time for our staff, parents and students but I’m proud of the patience and grace exhibited by all to get through this process with positivity. We are sharing spaces, sorting through materials to get rid of what is not being used, creating new procedures and trying to be understanding of uncertainties and bumps that occur along the way.
For me personally, I loved my old classroom. Despite moving grades and changing subject areas, my room has been my home for the majority of my time at Barranca. It holds a lot of memories and I love it. Seeing it completely empty and ready for remodeling at the end of last year was surprisingly emotional. Sometimes the emotional connections, memories, and changes involved in moving to a new space can be difficult. I know that I’ll get used to my new classroom but I was sincerely sad to leave my old room. Despite these feelings of loss, I am beginning to make new memories in my new classroom and I hear the same optimism from other teachers and staff. We believe that construction has provided an opportunity for Barranca to be brand new physically as well as functionally. We want our school to feel different.
One of our priorities is implementing a behavior plan that serves students and enables them to learn and grow from their mistakes. Last year we implemented a schoolwide behavior plan which has given us a great deal of information about student behavior issues at Barranca. We are using this information to continue to evolve and make changes where needed. This year we are going to implement measures to provide students with additional support and interventions to help them understand, learn from and correct behaviors. We believe having a multi-pronged approach where students clearly understand expectations, consequences are reasonable, and support is provided so students learn from their actions, will ultimately decrease the number of behavior issues dealt with daily. We want students to succeed and don’t want behaviors to interfere with learning.
As a staff, we are also working on implementing core values. At the beginning of the year staff meeting, we adopted the core values of kindness, support, and integrity. These values will be the foundation for everything we do and will hold staff, parents, students, and visitors accountable for their behavior and choices. This is going to be huge in changing the culture of our school and will help bring everyone together to support a common goal focusing on student success and well-being. We are all on the same team and we must show it in our actions and our words. This will change the way we do business.
As a teacher, who has been unsettled with the state of education. These changes give me some hope that perhaps we can make something beautiful happen for our students. As we move through this process, I hope that we will have the support of the district, parents, and community. I sincerely believe in Barranca and believe that we are taking great strides in making learning meaningful for our students while supporting our teachers and building strong relationships with our parents and community.