School District is rising as 1
MONTGOMERY – As 910 students begin another school year at the Montgomery Area School District, they are in for some changes to give them a better academic experience that will help further the school’s official mission statement, “Doing whatever it takes for all students to succeed.” The mission statement is not one that the district takes lightly, and the commitment to that ideal has led the Montgomery Area School District to being among the best in the state. Montgomery Elementary School acquired Blue Ribbon Status in 2009, and Montgomery Area High School has been declared the 65th best high school in the state and has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report. Being in 65th place out of 676 high schools puts Montgomery in the top ten percent. In addition to its notable academic record, the district has a variety of thriving programs that are bringing in “wonderful” results such as Odyssey of the Mind, Virtuoso, and The Stock Market Game Challenge according to Superintendent Daphne Bowers.
School started late for Montgomery, the first day of classes was Tuesday, September 6. This was done to accommodate some practical upgrades to the building, including the plumbing and installing a new fire alarm system. More upgrades are scheduled for next summer.
A change in technology has also prompted the switch from iPads to Chromebooks for grades 7-12. The iPads are being transferred to the elementary school for students to use in certain classroom activities. According to Superintendent Daphne Bowers, the decision to use Chromebooks for the upper grades has several advantages. The laptops offer a better platform for their learning management system, it provides improved links to business and industry, and the full keyboard makes it much easier for students to use.
The district is also welcoming many new teachers and staff members. Julien Deljanovan will teach kindergarten, Alyssa Steimling and Alison Beck will teach third grade, Randi Jo Preston will teach Special Education, and Kurtis Wertman will teach Technology Education.
There are also two new long-term substitutes, Chelsi Hendricks (kindergarten) and Elizabeth Sheddy (English). Two new para-professionals have joined the staff, Sharon Bennett and Janine Marquette. Paul Bozzella, who has been teaching high school English for many years, has additionally taken on the role of football coach. In his new position, he came up with a phrase that he wanted to use to motivate the Red Raider Football team: Rise as One. Bowers said that phrase has been adopted by the entire district and is responsible for creating “more collective unity.”
When asked about the secret of Montgomery’s stellar success, Bowers said that the secret is, “Very simple, the link to high student achievement is a high quality teacher. The credit goes to our staff, our administration.” She further commented that efforts made include using all resources, commitment to students, regular research on best practices, and following through. She is quick to acknowledge the dedication of teachers saying that many faculty members in the district work far beyond a forty hour work week. They also spend ten days a year on professional development. She said, “Teachers’ jobs have changed so much over the last ten years. They are responsible for so much more than they ever had to before.”
The school district also strives to teach the students about technology and fosters an environment of intellectual curiosity. Bowers stated that the goal is to teach students to become independent learners. She wants students to realize that by developing a growth mindset “you can achieve much more than you can ever imagine.” She further stated that she wants to teach students that they can own their learning, and for that to be successful the school has to promote a culture for students to be curious.
When asked what types of qualities she wants the ideal Montgomery graduate to have, Bowers said she wants them to go out into the world with work ethic, skills, knowledge, and ability. “I would hope they graduate ready to enter any career that they hope to be successful in. To reach any level they hope to reach and have the work ethic to go behind that . . . An attitude of caring about your neighbor that you acquire in a small school, getting along, leaving a school that had a full staff that cared so much for you when you go back to a class reunion all you talk about is the teachers that cared so much.”