A student eats lunch at Chávez
A student shows off his gold star.
Chávez students greet retired Principal Linda Allen
Students take a walk with Chávez staff member
A student reads her book
3 year check-in: Progress still going strong at Chávez Elementary School
According to retiring Principal Linda Allen, Chávez Elementary School is Madison’s best-kept secret. We featured the west side elementary school in our 2013-14 Annual Report and wanted to check back for an update on their progress.
Back then, teachers at the school had started working to improve their collaboration and teaming. Fast forward to this school year, when Chávez teachers have these down to a science.
“We have been working on being really intentional about allowing teacher teams the time to come together... learn from one another and build off each other’s expertise,” says incoming Principal Kelly Lawler.
Collaboration came in handy this school year as Chávez was one of a handful of Madison schools to pilot Bridges. Bridges is a math curriculum that focuses on developing students’ understanding of math concepts, proficiency with key skills and the ability to solve complex problems. Chávez teachers were eager to try it out.
”Our teachers were absolutely ready and enthusiastic about taking this on. We have a lot of teachers who are very, very passionate about math in this building,” Lawler says.
At times, learning the new curriculum seemed like a heavy lift for teachers and students, but they all rose to the occasion. The students’ math test scores show it was worth it.
Bringing the school community to families
Another strength of Chávez is its relationship with community partners. Chávez Adopt-a-School partners Redeemer City Church, HyVee and Memorial United Church of Christ provide consistent support to the school.
A couple years ago, Principals Lawler and Allen had the idea to move the school’s community picnic from Chávez to McKee Farms Park in Fitchburg. They did this in an effort to make sure all families could attend, since many live on High Ridge Trail, five miles from Chávez. Lawler said the school’s partners, who sponsor the event, were very supportive. At this year’s picnic, they served close to 800 hot dogs.
This school year, Chávez also ran an after-school program on High Ridge Trail, three days a week, for students who live there. This was spearheaded by Chávez social worker Andrea Reifsnider who received a grant for more than $17,000 from the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools.
At this location they also hold family empowerment and enrichment events. Parents learn strategies to support their children in math and reading, families have made healthy crock pot meals together and kids have roasted s’mores by the fire.
Principal Allen calls Chávez “truly a school community. Everything we do comes back to the children. Whatever is in the best interest of the child, that’s what we’re going to do.”