The Baldwin-Whitehall School District always seeks to meet children where they are and help them thrive. In past years, one of the ways the District has done so is through Title I programs that provide additional reading, ESL, and special education support to specific students with identified need. In an effort to serve its students more holistically, Paynter Elementary School has been approved as a tiered-support school, which enables it to serve all students.
Now, rather than pulling students out of classrooms for assistance, instructional support teachers come into classrooms to support teachers in instruction in English and special education. This method allows more freedom and flexibility. Patricia Fusco, Principal at Paynter Elementary School, explained that this is a student-centric approach. She notes, "the instruction they are receiving is more tailored to their needs." Students are able to work in groups that can change depending on the topic and the students.
With instructional support coming into the regular classrooms, students benefit by being in groups with their peers. ESL students and special-education students are receiving grade-level exposure with adaptations and accommodations. With more staff, all students receive additional attention.
Creating teacher pairings and a schedule for this new model required a significant amount of work. Beginning in January of last year, Mrs. Fusco began meeting with teachers in all grade levels and formulating a plan. All that advance work payed off. Instructional support teachers were able to begin programing on the first day of school—something that has never happened before. Already teachers are seeing significant improvements in students through this model. Mrs. Fusco expressed, "I am really proud of my teachers. This is something completely different than what we are used to and they have done an amazing job with it. They have worked diligently to make sure it works to serve our students."