Building a Strong Community at Curry Elementary School

Words by Jenny Lynn Davis | Images by Jenny Lynn Davis and Courtesy of Curry Elementary School

At Curry Elementary School (CES), fostering a strong sense of community is more than just an aspiration; it’s a dedicated mission. Principal Haley Moore and her team are working hard to create an environment where students, parents, and educators unite as one, working towards a common goal – empowering every student to reach their full potential.

“We as administrators can set the culture and expectations, but it takes everyone working together to make it successful and to empower every student to reach their full potential,” Moore says. “Our Marzano certification, MTSS training, PTLA program, and many other school programs and initiatives are just some ways we enable that collaboration.”

CES proudly holds the distinction of being a certified Marzano Level 1 High-Reliability School, and they’re actively striving towards Level 2. Achieving Level 1 certification was no small feat, thanks to the dedication of a remarkable team, including Jessica Johnsey, Heidi Emerson, Leigh Lynn, Megan Harbin, and Jerri Dutton. This achievement solidified the school’s commitment to excellence and paved the way for developing their CHAMPS motto, which encapsulates the qualities they wish all members of their school community to exhibit: Caring, Honest, Achievers, Motivated, Positive, and Successful.

A key milestone on CES’s journey towards fostering a strong sense of community came last year when they received training in the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). This system, which addresses academic, behavioral, and foundational wellness, is aimed at nurturing the holistic success of every child. It allows for a proactive, team-driven approach that engages all stakeholders, including the school, the board of education, and the state, and aligns perfectly with the school’s annual continuous improvement plan.

Another shining achievement that reflects the sense of community at CES is the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) project. Last year, their focus on kindness garnered recognition from the University of Alabama and the Walker County Board of Education. Building on the momentum from that success, this year’s PTLA project will center on math. PTLA fosters communication and support between teachers and parents, contributing significantly to student success. The PTLA team, including Dacey West, Alex Fayet, Ashley Elliott, and Leelan Clark, is committed to making this project successful.

The sense of community isn’t limited to adults; it extends to students. CES has a dedicated group of 3rd and 4th graders called Peer Helpers. These young leaders undergo an age-appropriate interview and training process, learning the value of leadership. They take on various responsibilities, from morning greetings to welcoming new students and participating in staff appreciation activities. Allen Key, Shelby Honeycutt, and Ginny Vines are the sponsors who guide these budding leaders.

Even the school custodian, Ms. Leigh, plays a vital role in creating a positive atmosphere at CES. Her morning routine of playing music and setting the tone for a great day embodies the warmth and camaraderie within the school. The teachers themselves can’t resist joining in on the dancing and singing.

Moreover, CES benefits from the support of Curry High School, which sends band members, cheerleaders, and football players to host mini pep rallies for CES students on the morning of CHS away games. These high schoolers also greet CES students as they come into school every Friday morning. These older role models give CES students someone to look up to, fostering a sense of belonging within the larger school community.

Assistant Principal Jerri Dutton sums it all up by sharing, “We’re just one big family unit. Curry is a small community – there’s only a couple of places to eat and shop- but that small town has a big soul, and we see that reflected in our school.” WL

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