South Mountain School Mission & Vision
The mission of South Mountain School to ensure that every child whose life we have the opportunity to touch receives the highest quality instruction, resources and support to discover their passions and interests, expand their potential, and ultimately achieve their ambitions. We seek to understand the complexity that each student represents and invest the time it takes to get to know every student we serve. We are committed to ensuring that students are engaged in meaningful and complex work that not only provides opportunities to engage in real-world problem solving and productive struggle, but also nurtures flexible thinkers who can learn from and with each other. We are committed to providing students with a well-rounded education that includes the arts, music and physical education. We know that excellent teaching will ignite a fire in each and every student that will lead to a true love of learning.
School Narrative - South Mountain Elementary/Annex
South Mountain School/Annex is a kindergarten through fifth-grade school with two locations. Three kindergartens, and five first-grade classes are housed in the Annex; two kindergartens, and all the second-grade through fifth-grade classes are located at the South Mountain School. Even though we have two sites, the staff, students and parents function as one school with shared meetings, assemblies and activities.
South Mountain is committed to supporting all children on their journey to excellence in learning. The language arts curriculum emphasizes a literature-based workshop approach to reading and writing, immersing students in quality literature and targeted instruction that teaches the strategies that children need in order to be successful language arts learners. Through a balanced literacy approach, students will become lifelong readers and writers, growing from emergent readers to proficient readers. Skill development is an important component to our balanced reading program. Our program fuses phonics into the language arts instruction, using Fundations, Word Study and the Fountas and Pinnell Literacy curriculum in the younger grades. We are committed to providing differentiated instruction that meets the needs of every child, and nurtures their growth towards academic excellence.
Mathematics instruction provides opportunities for students to explore discover and use problem-solving techniques in real-life situations. Students are encouraged to think in their own way and develop their own understandings in a context that is meaningful. We use the Math in Focus curriculum throughout the school. We will continue to provide an additional daily math time that focuses on individual math instruction (IMI) that includes math games, Math Olympiad, and a variety of strategies and techniques to meet the needs of all our learners, both strong and weak.
Science is inquiry based and engages students in hands-on and minds-on experiences. We turn students' natural curiosity about the world into a fascination for science. Social Studies spirals students through an investigation of self and family to the study of different cultures. Students are involved in investigations of diverse cultures, democratic principles, civic participation, global awareness and history. We understand the need to expose our students to an increased amount of informational and content rich non-fiction, not only in English Language Arts but also in the content areas.
Students learn to express themselves through the arts and music programs. Annually, we have a school musical directed by our music teacher, Ms. Wiggins. Our fifth graders assume the leading roles, but many of the younger students participate. We also have an annual musical concert and an art show, which gives friends and families the opportunity to share the talents of our students. All students are represented. Our physical education and health programs contribute to physical fitness and wellness, thus enhancing learning. South Mountain is a CATCH school, committed to healthy eating and physical exercise in and out of the classroom. Teachers provide frequent “Brain Interventions” that provide physical breaks throughout the day. We believe that these short breaks increase focus and time on task. Our PE teachers sponsor a year long recess running club in which the students keep a record of the distance they run in a year. In addition, several times during the year we have special days that celebrate the physical development of our students. The most popular of these is our South Mountain School Spirit Day.
South Mountain is a place where we strive to instill in our children a love of learning and a deep respect for each other. The school uses the Responsive Classroom approach to instill strong character traits and personal responsibility in every child. Every morning begins with a Morning Meeting, during which time the children develop their interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. We have a trained group of fourth-and fifth-grade students who are our Peer Mediators. Under the supervision of a trained staff member, they mediate many conflicts between peers. The children also vote for their student council. The process helps them understand our democratic process in a very real way. The council takes their responsibility very seriously. We have a student run newspaper, The Scoop, which is published several times a year.
South Mountain is a school where everyone is a learner: children, staff, principal and assistant principal. Professional Development is an essential part of our lives as teachers. This means that we differentiate opportunities for growing as teachers. It is our intent to build a community of learners that includes our adults as well as our children. We are a Teacher’s College Reading & Writing Project School. Staff developers from Teachers College works with our teachers to support the teaching of reading and writing. We have meetings of Professional Learning Communities to discuss issues such as Data Analysis, Math Differentiation, CATCH, Writing Conferences, and Technology in the Classroom, as well as several professional book studies on teaching and learning. Staff members have chosen the learning community that best meets their learning goals. It is our goal that every single child and adult in our school reaches their full potential as learners.
The parent community is actively involved in the school and is committed to a quality education for its children. Our PTA helps to sponsor assemblies, special student activities, fundraisers, and parent information meetings. Parents and staff members are encouraged to contribute to our online newsletter, designed to keep parents informed about all aspects of school. We have evening parent workshops with the principal, which gives all parents the opportunity to ask questions, and bring up topics for discussion, as well as giving the principal an opportunity to share information directly with the parent community, and give support to parents on how to support their children’s learning at home.
The district's Technology Plan, "Living with Technology: A Life-long Learning Process," is designed to support the district's Educational Technology Curriculum, K-12. It has provided South Mountain with Chromebooks, document cameras and iPads that are readily available to all staff and students in classrooms for research, ST math and reading. Our building is wireless. In addition, we now have Smart Boards in every third, fourth and fifth-grade classroom, and ELMOs in the K-2 classrooms, which are changing the way we teach and the way our students access information.
At South Mountain, we have a state of the art broadcast booth. During morning meeting, fifth graders broadcast live to the entire school community world and school news. Televisions in each classroom allow for school-wide programs, as well as access to outside broadcasts. All students and staff have Internet access to the World Wide Web, electronic research, and chats with authors and scientists. Students can explore the world through technology and can now expand some of their research projects because of this technology.
One of our priorities at South Mountain is the search for and hiring of new staff. It is our goal to hire excellent teachers who are highly qualified in their field. We have a strong, diverse teaching staff who are lifelong learners, willing to take on new challenges in curriculum and instruction. They are committed to helping every single student in their classrooms reach their full potential.