We are very excited for the start of the 2009-2010 school year! Remember: School starts on Tuesday, September 8. If you have any questions you can call the Howard office at 683-4633 or the Ellis office at 683-4635. We look forward to seeing you on September 8!!!!
Welcome to Howard-Ellis Elementary
A Blue Ribbon Exemplary School
Howard-Ellis Elementary School is located in the city of Niles, Michigan, in a rural area where family farms and lakeside homes are equally familiar parts of the landscape. Most of our 653 kindergarten through fifth grade students live within a 45-square mile attendance area, and nearly half of our children qualify for free or reduced meals. A large number of families have made Howard-Ellis their school of choice; we currently enroll 76 students whose home schools are elsewhere in the district, and 42 who have chosen to attend Howard-Ellis from other districts entirely. Our principal, who grew up in the community and attended Howard School herself, is one of 14 staff members who are proud alumni of our school.
Howard-Ellis is unique in that it consists of two buildings approximately .3 miles apart: Ellis welcomes kindergarten and first grade students, providing a small, secure setting for beginning learners, and Howard, the larger facility, opens its doors to all second through fifth graders. Our school is also home to eight special education classrooms, the most of any elementary school in the district, and we take pride in the fact that our special needs students are integrated into the mainstream as much as possible.
Our collective belief that all students can learn and master essential academic skills is central to our school's mission of providing a quality education for each child. We are dedicated to promoting positive social, emotional and physical growth in a safe, orderly environment, and we seek to instill in our students a respectful understanding and knowledge of diversity. With the cooperation and support of parents and community, we work diligently to help all of our students, regardless of ability or disability, succeed.
From daily breakfast served to students by cooks who know them by name to a community volleyball team using our gym for late-night practice, Howard-Ellis bustles with activity from dawn to dusk. Before the first bell rings, students are at school to participate in such popular teacher-led clubs as Choir, Tech Club, Science Olympiad, Rocket Club and Word Masters. Others are in the building to be tutored or to use our Media Center's print or technology resources. Parents are also welcome throughout the day, and our parent involvement rate of 99.8% is a testimony to the strong and comfortable rapport that exists between stakeholders. Communication between school and home is constant, facilitated by parent newsletters, Friday folders, daily notes, phone calls, e-mail, school websites, and both formal and informal conferences; opportunities for parents to volunteer are plentiful.
Our dynamic Parent Teacher Organization works to provide students with materials, equipment, and programs that enrich learning, including musical instruments, subscriptions to children's news magazines, and multicultural assemblies. The PTO-inspired Art Smart program enables children to study artists and their genre in a hands-on manner, while the group's tireless fundraising efforts continue to enable our school to upgrade and improve our technology resources. We now have three well-equipped Computer Labs, two at Howard and one at Ellis.
After school, students may get special academic assistance through our Homework Busters or Extended Day Tutoring programs; both are staffed by teachers and have played a role in helping students raise grades and test scores. Other students may stay after hours to participate in Garden Club activities, paint props for a class play, or practice for an upcoming soccer match. Evening events are often so well-attended that our parking lots are filled to capacity; Family Nights featuring a shared meal and our students' written work or fine arts projects are especially enjoyed. The Make It/Take It Celebration is a much-anticipated annual tradition, an evening during which parents and students create holiday crafts for gift giving.
In ways both big and small, the community contributes to our school. A local dentist offers free dental care, our YMCA provides swimming lessons, the Niles Service League and area Lions Club offer school supplies, clothing and eyeglasses to students in need. Our school is home to Champs Field, a state-of-the-art baseball complex that was named for boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who has strong ties to the Howard-Ellis community and who financed the project to give our children free access to a quality athletic facility. The community's generosity is reciprocated as our staff and students strive to help those beyond our school's walls. Service projects have aided St. Jude's Children's Hospital, The Ronald McDonald House at Riley Hospital, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, military troops stationed overseas, and area women's and homeless shelters. Families in need of assistance know they can rely on our staff to connect them with resources for help, whether that help be required to pay a heating bill or to locate childcare or counseling.
Our students' diverse needs are met through the dedicated efforts of our teachers and staff, including our Student Accommodations Consultant (SAC) whose primary mission it is to identify and support our at-risk students, and our Behavior Specialist, who works with students to replace behaviors that interfere with learning with behavior that contributes to a healthy school climate. The Peer Mediator program, led by our Behavior Specialist, trains our upper elementary students to help peers resolve disputes peacefully. Children in particular need of a positive role model and personal attention become part of our Student Mentoring program.
Howard-Ellis students are the only elementary students in our district to receive instruction in Spanish as part of the curriculum. Our Kindergarten through fifth grade students learn the Spanish alphabet and basic Spanish vocabulary, along with details of Hispanic culture and history. Our Spanish instructor works closely with classroom teachers to design lessons that reinforce the core curriculum at each grade level. Although our student body is predominantly Caucasian, our growing population of Hispanic English Language Learners makes the inclusion of Spanish in our curriculum increasingly meaningful.
Teachers and principals continuously review data from DIBELS, NWEA and MEAP tests, as well as from formal and informal classroom assessments, to adjust curriculum and instruction to meet children's needs. Through professional development on such topics as brain-compatible classroom strategies and the multiple intelligences, our staff is well prepared to teach students of varying abilities and learning styles. Our teacher-chaired School Improvement Committee (SIC) meets regularly to discuss goals in the areas of math, language arts, science/social studies, and school climate, and initiates action to turn the goals into reality; all teachers are members. Through the efforts of the SIC and its subcommittees, a Violence Prevention program was implemented in the Fall of 2004 to make the school a safer, kinder place for all, and the CraftPlus program was adopted the following year to improve our students' writing skills.
We take pride in the fact that our school's MEAP scores were the highest in the district this past year; our third, fourth and fifth graders all scored above the district and state averages in English Language Arts, Math and Science. As our curriculum becomes more tightly aligned with state standards and benchmarks, our students' performance improves. Our school's "A" rating by Education,Yes! is another testimony to our dedication to educational excellence.
Our school's vision is well-articulated in the message on the welcome mat at our school's front entrance, reading, "Howard-Ellis School: Building the Future One Student at a Time". Our staff's commitment to creating lifelong learners who are also caring citizens is exemplified in our relationships with one another, in our curriculum and programs which strive to meet individual needs, and in our high expectations for academics and behavior. While the welcome mat may be muddied at times with children's busy footprints, our mission itself remains clear and focused.