Ridge View Elementary makes big decisions for school’s future
Sep 30, 2019 05:07PM
● By Jet Burnham
Students begin the school year with a red carpet welcome. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Ridge View Elementary School began its first year with a red carpet welcome for excited students and community members.
“Everything is nice and new and up to date,” said Stephanie Kamerath, a parent. “We get to help form the culture and be involved.”
Students and staff members are already making decisions to shape the school’s traditions and culture. They voted for school colors of red, silver and black. A raptor was chosen as the school mascot. They adopted the values of Ridge View PRIDE: Positivity, Respect, Involvement, Directions (followed the first time) and Excellence.
“It has really set the tone for the culture we want in our school and the expectations we have for everyone,” said second grade teacher Kayla Tuso.
Because everyone is new, they are all contributing to the creation of the school climate.
“Being at a new school is just very exciting,” Tuso said. “It’s fun to collaborate with new teachers that are all coming from different places and bringing different ideas, gifts and talents.”
Haley McCall, team lead for the special education department, has been able to plan her program from the ground up.
“Our leadership team helped develop what our behavior plan was and what we want our school to look like this year,” she said. “We've pulled together lots of amazing teachers, a lot of experienced teachers. It's really awesome to work with so many dedicated, hard workers—teachers who are passionate.”
Staff members faced challenges unique to opening a new school. Some of the classroom supplies did not arrive in time for the first day of class.
“We’ve done a great job of sharing with each other until it all arrives,” Tuso said.
Enrollment numbers rose dramatically in the weeks leading up to the first day of school. Initially, 481 students were expected to enroll at Ridge View. By the first day of school, there were 600. New teachers were hired last minute and classes were rearranged.
Enrollment is expected to swell as more houses are built in the surrounding area.
“We're actually moving into the boundaries in October,” Kamerath said. Her third grader began the year at Ridge View instead of transferring in once their house in the South Hills development is finished.
The rapid growth of the area has affected school boundaries in the area.
“Most of our students have been moved from several different schools the past few years due to boundary changes and enrollment numbers,” said Camille Mousley. “I am hoping that students can now feel like they have a stable place and that we can find and start our own traditions.”
Mousley accepted the role as the first PTA president for Ridge View Elementary. Funding has been the biggest challenge of starting a PTA organization from scratch.
“We were given a percentage from the schools that fed into our school, but it’s definitely not enough to do things that established schools normally do and what we have in mind,” she said.
Mousley has been pleased by the support from teachers, students, parents and community members for their first two fundraising events: Spirit Night at Café Zupas in August and a carnival in September.
“I think that because of all the newness of the school, everyone has been more willing to help and volunteer because nothing has been established,” she said.
The goal of the PTA this year is to bring people together.
“We just want to make this first year an incredible experience for everyone and only build on up for the years to come,” said Mousley.