Principal shares pride in school’s feats

Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School Principal Liz Sloan is proud of the school’s collaborative faculty and positive relationships with parents. (photo by John Gregory)

Principal shares pride in school’s feats

A glance at Ellen Browning Scripps (EBS) Elementary School’s exterior offers the impression that progressive activities are stirring within. Perhaps it’s the building’s design: it was built upward to originally house a middle school, although the lot was only large enough for an elementary school, according to Principal Liz Sloan. Eventually the new Marshall Middle School was completed and EBS moved to its present site, 11778 Cypress Canyon Road.

In this case, looks are not deceiving. There are many progressive activities underway at the school and more on the way. The building, coincidentally, plays a part. Since it was built with more room than the other local elementary schools, there is no lack of space. The school has an art room, a computer lab, a music room, a physical education room, and it retains one of the old middle school science rooms which is still used by the fourth and fifth graders.

“One of the things that I’m really excited about right now is that we’re creating a makerspace, which is a type of engineering and construction laboratory where students do problem solving and create things,” Sloan explained. “It also can incorporate a little bit of robotics.”

A parent committee is in place working on the project in hopes of having it in place next fall. The school will order specialized furniture and some equipment. They have two Sprout computers which feature two-screen configuration with touch sensitive mats, which are perfect for design work. In addition, a 3D printer has been donated for the room.

One of Sloan’s past concepts has also come to fruition this school year in the form of an after-school enrichment program, offering a set of classes following the end of regular classes on the campus.

Sloan, who came to EBS as principal about five years ago, has much to be thankful for, as well as her team, when it comes to accomplishments.

“This is probably one of the hardest-working faculties that I’ve ever seen,” she said. “They really dedicate themselves to working together as a team to prepare for the students, in addition to collaborating with the families and supporting the community.”

EBS teachers spend a whole day working together as they participate in a Professional Learning Community session for one grade each month.

“One thing that’s great about our staff is they’re very collaborative and they plan everything together and they learn together,” Sloan said. “So, there’s a strong level of consistency across classrooms because the teachers have all worked together to plan lessons.”

Sloan emphasized that collaboration and building strong relationships in all areas is vital to the success of the school.

“Positive relationships are a really strong component of everything that we do,” she explained.

Indeed, Sloan was most accommodating in granting an interview and offering a tour of the campus. The computer lab was filled with focused students wearing headphones. The hallways were immaculate, and the exterior was brightened considerably by impressive displays of student art and tiles with tiny, colorful hand prints.

“We really pride ourselves in involving the parents in everything that we do here at school,” Sloan said. “The parents are an integral and vital part of the students’ education.”

To accentuate this point, she referred to a fact that EBS has an army of 650 verified and registered parent volunteers.

Sloan’s arrival at EBS was akin to trial by fire. She joined the school the year Common Core was being implemented, and it was her task to make sure it was executed smoothly. Sloan is rightfully proud of her work because the school was recognized by the State as a California Gold Ribbon School for exemplary implementation of Common Core and for teacher training in Common Core.

While that accomplishment was huge, Sloan referred to another task as being her priority when she arrived.

“One thing I wanted to do first … was build relationships with the parents, the community and the staff. Before you can even start implementing any types of programs or anything, you really have to get to know the people,” she said.

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