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J u s t d e s s e r t s

Post Independent Writer
Post Independent Photo/Jim Noelker Students turn Roy Moore Elementary School principal Mark MacHale into an ice cream sundae Friday afternoon. Roy Moore students met their reading goals for the month of April and, as a treat, turned their principal into a confection.

By Carrie Click

Post Independent Staff

Carrie Click Kallstrom 5/14/04 Be sure to include Jim’s photo and the sidebar. c2k

SILT – On Friday, Roy Moore Elementary School principal Mark MacHale got slimed. It was a just reward for the school’s 325 students meeting their reading goals in April.

MacHale promised the kids that if 90 percent of them met or exceeded a goal of reading for 15 minutes every night last month, he would let them pick from a range of prizes.

They chose to turn him into a giant human ice cream sundae.

“I’ll do this, but I wasn’t going to shave my head,” said MacHale with a smile. “That wasn’t even going to be an option. I’ve already had to shave my beard once!”

The human sundae celebration typifies the relationship between Roy Moore students and MacHale, who’s served as principal for the past seven years.

When MacHale walks the school’s hallways, he addresses kids by name as he high-fives them, and when he drops by classrooms, kids’ heads snap around.

“Hi, Mr. MacHale!” they call out.

A lot of fun

“We have a lot of fun here,” said fourth grader Sammi Valenteen, 10. “I like to read, and we read a lot here and also during the summer.”

For fifth grader Cody Lyon, 11, reading is a part of living.

“I like chapter books, ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Lord of the Rings’ and biographies,” he said. “A long time ago, my mom taught me to read. It was before preschool. I don’t really remember not being able to read.”

Apparently, a lot of Roy Moore kids enjoy reading.

“We recently received our third grade scores,” said MacHale of the newly released Colorado Student Assessment Program tests, “and an amazing 98 percent of the kids scored advanced or proficient on the third-grade CSAP. This is a phenomenal accomplishment.”

Roy Moore’s third-graders – the class has about 45 kids, 11 of whom are English language learners – are clearly learning, but not at the expense of what Valenteen describes as, “having fun.”

Colorful student-made artwork hangs absolutely everywhere – in the hallways, walls and from the ceilings.

The wild rainbow of hues contributes to the overall upbeat atmosphere at the school. Two chairs upholstered in giraffe-and-elephant patterns, with a matching wild-animal wallpaper border, greet visitors in an alcove in the school’s entryway, right underneath a portrait of the late Roy Moore, the school’s namesake and former principal.

“I had to buy those chairs because I figured I was the only person on earth who would,” said MacHale with a grin. “They belong here.”

‘We’re all in this together’

Roy Moore Elementary’s interior decorating aside, MacHale said the school has an inviting feeling to it that goes far beyond the visual – and involves kids, teachers, staff – and parents.

“Our philosophy is we’re all in this together,” said MacHale. “We’re all responsible for each other. Everybody here knows that nobody’s going to fall through the cracks.”

In Becky Lange’s resource room – where children meet to get extra help – a group of kids sat in small chairs, gathered tightly around a tutor.

“It’s because of programs like this that we do well,” said MacHale. “We’re not charged with ‘fixing’ anyone. Becky provides pro-active support to teachers.”

“The teachers are so wonderful to work with,” said Lange, the special education, resource room teacher. “We are all responsible to these children.”

Jan Bennett teaches first grade at Roy Moore. She agrees with Lange.

“I’ve worked places where it’s very competitive,” Bennett said. “It’s not that way here at all. It works better to share.”

Parents are as much a part of the school as its students and staff. On Thursday, parents were teaching classes, assisting teachers, and dropping off art supplies to classrooms.

Cody Lyon’s mom, Carrie Lyon, is a certified teacher, and was teaching geometry to Carrie Close’s fifth-grade class. Students, equipped with eraseable markers and white boards, worked on area and volume problems and held their boards up for Lyon to check.

“I teach on Thursdays,” Lyon said. “It’s something I can do for the school, and I really enjoy it.”

“Parents are really involved here,” said Michele Howard Snode, whose two sons – a third grader and kindergartner – attend Roy Moore. “This school is very willing to include parents.”

Snode said high parent involvement might seem unusual to adults who grew up without a lot of interaction between school staff and parents.

She said when she was in school, there was PTA, parent-teacher nights, school plays and athletic events, “but when I grew up, there weren’t parents coming into the schools to work with kids and help out,” Snode said.

That’s all different now, and is one of the reasons the school is making successful strides. MacHale said he estimates that, since the beginning of the school year, about 70 parents have attended school.

“People come in on a regular basis, and some folks are regular fixtures,” MacHale said. “Every day, I see people here. It’s part of what makes it work.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518


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