A+ School of Excellence Summary
Part 11: School Summary
We, the staff at Porter Elementary in Mesa, Arizona, believe that all our students are on a path to life- long learning.
Porter Elementary Vision: Porter’s vision is to create a culture of high expectations for learning in an environment that promotes college readiness; to instruct in the college and career essential foundations of learning with strong teachers and student initiative; to share leadership in the community with parents, students and faculty.
Our vision stems from our commitment to the AVID College Readiness system that our teachers and students collaborated in forming and implementing.
Porter Elementary Mission: We, the Porter Staff, along with parents and the community will maintain a nurturing, student centered learning environment; foster our children’s natural love of learning; appreciate the uniqueness, abilities and talents of each student, lead students to be responsible citizens of good nature; implement researched-based instruction to meet individual learning styles.
The mission statement was written with a team of administrators, teachers and parents in 2010 to reflect the inclusive nature of our special education programs as well as changing curriculum standards.
· Foster a focus on higher education by setting college goals
· Celebrate student successes and allow for children to become independent learners
· Create responsible citizens who contribute to themselves and the outside world
· Embrace the diversity of our learners and the families who support them
· Create quality learning products to engage students in continuous exploration
· Work toward all students reading by the end of third grade
· Engage all students in organizational skills at their age level for self-direction
· Create a collective community vision in all school decisions
· Identify individual talents and foster them in the classroom
· Share leadership
· Meet student needs through clear communication and expectation
· Create ownership of academic goals through shared planning and revision
Porter Pride is strong at Porter Elementary School in Mesa, Arizona. The mascot of Porter Elementary is a pride of lions. This represents our commitment to shared learning and leadership. With the same teamwork and determination of a pride of lions, our teachers strive to make every part of our community a thriving, sustainable environment for student success. We believe that every child can excel academically, including goal setting toward future college expectations with our Advancement Via Individual Determination or A.V.I.D. Elementary. Our programs include our note-taking for learning, organizational systems for thinking and academics, and subject integration in all curricular areas.
Our school is led by group decision making. Every member is given a rationale for changes and allowed time to express his or her opinion on how to make the changes effective and relatable to the group. We have a leadership team that reports back to their grade level. The grade levels then meet in bands (e.g., grades three through five meet as a band) during whole school Professional Learning Communities (PLC). We have meetings with our classified staff to allow for their input on key school decisions. We have an active parent teacher organization, parent involvement committee and school site committees. All of our grade levels and special groups are given common planning time during the week. All of our major school decisions are then represented in our School Improvement Team (SIT) which presents to the staff. Every stakeholder is a part of our decision making.
Community involvement is strong at Porter. We are sponsored by churches, universities, local businesses and retirement homes. One of the strongest members of our community is our vibrant and active Parent Teacher Organization board (PTO). This group is helping to spread the word that positive changes are happening at Porter.
Porter’s culture is also a shared vision. We keep our expectations high with our university adopted classrooms. Students and teachers learn about various universities and share these with the staff. We believe that all students can develop socially through our collaboratively created behavior plan that strives for student leadership. This includes our student council and Porter Patrol student leaders who take on the role of ambassadors. Our culture is centered on our Porter Pride. PRIDE is our acronym for high expectations in learning. PRIDE stands for Posture, Respect, Investigate, Determination and Engage. You will hear teachers around campus asking students to “show me Porter Pride.” This collaborative approach to our school climate creates an atmosphere of welcoming and respect.
We believe in inclusive education for all our students in our varied special needs programs on campus. Our special education students are a part of everything from maintaining our Porter Pride Garden to integrating into our regular education classrooms. Our culture celebrates both academics and citizenship. Every quarter we recognize good citizens with a flag ceremony and an invitation to members of our community. Every quarter we recognize perfect attendance and no tardy days. High academic grades are rewarded with a quarterly academic celebration. Every month we celebrate our student success with our Porter Pride Lunch with the Principal.
Our teachers lead by example and move toward student led learning. We embrace goal setting for our school, for our grade levels and for our students. We display our student goals for all to see in classrooms and in hallways. We have students create and track their own goals and post them in individual notebooks. We help struggling students with our reading lab that integrates technology with tablets and computers and hands on activities such as movement tiles and game stations. Our students can receive tutoring offered by our Saturday Workshop club for fifth grade or our traditional after school tutoring with grades one through six. Our sixth graders can come to an open homework lab for help or a quiet workspace in our computer lab after school on Thursdays. Even our physical education teacher gets involved by taking his free periods and going into the fifth and sixth grade classrooms to tutor. We do not forget our students who are gifted and accelerated as they have gifted classes once a week and on site math programs in computer based resources. Students struggling emotionally have adult mentors in our mentor/mentee counselor’s program with all staff involved. By taking all these initiatives to meet specific student needs, we create a culture of can do and one where all the staff becomes responsible for student learning.
We believe in the power of individual interests through our clubs such as our world outreach Hope club, Saturday tutoring open house, music classes including band and orchestra integrated into our AVID college goals, Young Rembrandt art classes, hip hop dance classes, karate, Porter News Network (PNN) student led news, Battle of the Books and running club. Students who are gifted receive services in specialized classes or on computer based programing. No child is left without resources at Porter.
We believe in community building through our parent English program, our food drives and community outreach with food banks and basic needs support. We collaborate with businesses to make our school a place of growth.
In the process of our many activities, we never forget the importance of the individual student. We are a diverse community with 42% of our students who are Hispanic and 41% White, 8% African American, 4% American Indian, 3% Asian and Pacific Islander and 2% multi-ethnicity. Of all our students, 75% are on free or reduced lunch. Our Family Support Specialist makes sure the basic needs of students are met whether those are new backpacks, clothing that fits or a box of food from the food bank. We remember the purpose of education is to make it personal. We are not a one-sized fits all community. We take students from where they are today to their individual goal of where they can be. We begin with the end in mind. Mesa Public Schools motto is Make it Personal and we take this to heart at Porter.
Our biggest challenge is increasing enrollment and support from our neighborhood community. When Porter was labeled underperforming four years ago, perception of the school became negative. Our challenge is to rebuild confidence in the school. We are becoming a vocal force in the community.
The PRIDE is back at Porter! We have received attention for all our efforts. Channel 15 News reported our successful involvement with AZBrainfood. McDonald’s Corporation chose Porter as their nationwide recipient of McDonald’s National People Day of Service. Congressman Matt Salmon contacted Porter to visit as recognition for being the first school in Arizona to be involved in Global Water Awareness. Mesa Public Schools chose Porter’s Hope Club as an exemplary example of service learning at an elementary level. One of our teachers, Erin Sparks, received the Masonic Lodge award for Outstanding Teaching. Even our cafeteria staff has received recognition. We received the Kid Clean Kitchen Excellence award from Southwest Training Systems. Phoenix Children’s Hospital chose Porter’s Running Club for outstanding participation in student health.
Pride in academic and behavioral growth is a promise at Porter. In the seven years a student is on our campus, we give them the tools to create their own pride; because in the heat of the day, we know we must channel all our energy for the betterment of the pride. Porter Pride is the motto we live by at Porter Elementary.