About Sycamore Elementary School
At Sycamore Elementary School learning is student centered. Respect for each child as a learner is the foundation of our instructional activities and our curricular decisions. Students are challenged to be cooperative learners, supported in realizing that there are multiple solutions to all problems and encouraged to reflect upon, understand and evaluate their own learning and thought process. Preparing our students to be informed contributing members in a democratic society is the goal of all members of our learning community.
For over a century, Sycamore has played a vital role in the community. Its proximity to the Claremont Colleges has shaped its pedagogical philosophy. Its proximity to the Village of Claremont has shaped its commitment to develop an active partnership with the community by highlighting service learning. The faculty at Sycamore has long prided itself on implementing a number of innovations in their curricular program. Focal points of these innovations include a multiage learning environment that allows students to be successful; the inclusion of multiple intelligence teaching strategies;
student led assessment conferences which develops self-reflective learners; family curriculum planning sessions which engages students and parents in developoing curriculm; Play Based Observation assessment model; and shareddecision making by all school stakeholders. Based on input from students, parents, staff and data, four major emphases have been established for the next two years 2006 - 2008. They are:
To further improve a solid language arts program by developing an articulated writing program school wide that includes rubrics, student portfolios and language records.
To incorporate higher order thinking skills in all aspects of curriculum delivery, assessment demonstrations, and communication of our progress to the community.
To provide a developmentally sound, balanced mathematics program with emphasis on manipulative use, practical life skills, problem solving and the use of Exemplars.
The Sycamore staff embraces the concept of being a "community of learners," recognizing learning is a lifetime endeavor which must be nurtured from the outset of a childs learning process. Staff further agrees, everyone involved with learning is a learner and everyone can learn.
Sycamore Elementary School, founded as Claremont Grammar School in 1890, is now one of eight elementary schools in town. Our 2006-07 enrollment is approximately 365 students. This is close to the capacity of our facility. Ninety-nine percent of our students reside within the boundaries of CUSD. About 40% of our families are intra-district transfer students. The majority of families transferring to Sycamore cite the nature of our multi-age developmental educational program as the reason for their decision.
Quality of Instruction & Leadership:
Sycamores curriculum is aligned with state frameworks and standards for all subject areas. Language Arts is a strength. Literature-based reading instruction, the writing process with student publishing, cooperative learning and cross-age tutoring provide models for numerous visiting educators. Instruction acknowledges individual learning styles; encourages student choice; and promotes authentic performance-based learning demonstration.
School leadership within our open enrollment District is responsive to the community. Staff, parents and students are involved with program decisions. Participatory management is enhanced by Sycamore's size and by the staff's interest in all aspects of the school experience. The Unified Governance Council is the governing body of the school.
Individual needs of students are addressed in each classroom. In addition, our resource specialist, speech and language specialist, and a 40% language arts resource teacher provide individual and small group instruction plus consultation for classroom teachers. Students with special needs are regularly assessed and placed in the least restrictive environment by our Guidance Team. The Student Study Team develops home and school strategies to impact other student concerns.
Our school community is informed of educational rights and opportunities in the following communications: the Claremont Unified School District Information Calendar, a District booklet describing all schools, Sycamore's own program description, twice monthly Principal's newsletters, and regular classroom communications to parents. Parent involvement is stressed; over 150 parents were recognized last spring for their contributions in classrooms, special events, committees and on the Board of Education.
Climate for Learning:
Teachers encourage students to develop responsibility for their individual actions and for their educational goals. Students are given the opportunity to be involved in making choices that directly affect them.
It is an expectation that each student maintains a high level of respect for him/herself as well as the learning of others. Building a strong sense of how to interact in an appropriate manner is a priority. To support students in their efforts to gain inner responsibilities and self-monitoring strategies they are taught to base their actions around the following four questions: Is it safe? Is it kind? Does it protect property? Does it support learning?
These questions serve as a guide for our students not only to analyze the sensibility and practicality of their decisions in school, but also to understand the lifetime implications sound decisions have. Natural consequences, school service, and individual reflections encourage students to consider improved decision-making choices. In response to problems, students are asked to reflect on what happened, accept responsibility for their actions, consider the consequences their actions have had on others, and devise a plan for continued improved behavior. Students are further asked to consider what they can do in the future to create a better situation.