In just two years, Ingleside Middle School has been able to jump from a low “B” grade to an “A” grade as designated by the Arizona Department of Education. Although Ingleside doesn’t have a motto, their ‘students first’ mentality has contributed greatly to their improved grade.
“It was one of the things I kept harping on in staff meetings and one-on-one meetings,” Principal Chris Thuman said. “Every time there’s issues and stuff coming up, the decisions we make have to be in the best interest of the students. It might be more work for the adults, it might be something different than the adults have done before, but if we do it right and the end results can be better for the student, that has to be the way we go.”
With this mindset, Ingleside implemented new bell structures and schedules to promote better synergy among the teachers. Instead of teachers trying to meet with each other at any time they could find, Thuman rearranged schedules to allow them to meet daily for more than an hour.
Thuman reiterated, “Developing work-embedded time for teachers to collaborate and plan together each day was the single most impactful support we could put in place to help teachers become more effective in all they do.”
Thuman also changed the teachers’ schedules so they could focus on one subject instead of multiple subjects. Teachers of the same subject meet daily to better evaluate how to aid students.
“They’re teaching the same class four times a day,” Thuman said. “They plan for it once and do it all day long. Their lessons and effectiveness in the classroom get better and better every day. This is the true model of what an effective professional learning community should look like.”
Thuman also hired another counselor, bringing the total number of counselors to three.
He said this will promote social/emotional learning for the students. The counselors stay with students in one grade from the time they enter until they leave, which builds support for the students. The same counselor meets with the same students, and the counselors can use the same methods to better aid the students.
This puts Ingleside’s student-to-counselor ratio at less than 300:1 for each grade. The state average is approximately 500:1, and the Scottsdale School District’s average ratio is 450:1.
This system has also increased grades and student academic growth over the past year. Improved test scores are only one part of the school grade. Actual demonstrable growth over time contributes the most.
“We’re seeing more than a year’s gain many times,” Thuman said. “Some kids are coming in at a late fourth-grade level as a sixth grader, but they’re catching up and leaving at a sixth-grade level within a year or year and a half.”
The greatest growth has been their English Language Development program, headed by Simona Bojkova. Bojkova relates to the struggle of students whose second language is English and helps to better aid those who are learning the language.
Although these small improvements are only one part of the school’s grade change, Thuman said that everything is about consistency now. Staying true to the ‘students first’ mentality will continue to be the focus for Ingleside.