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The Latest Summitville Elementary News

From awards and outstanding accomplishments to events our awesome PTO is organizing for us, we will give you the details here. Come back often, and be sure to check our monthly newsletter. You’ll be a well-informed parent, and your children will do better in school because of it. Thank you for your support!

School is Cancelled on November 19, 2019

Attention, Families -

We wanted to make you aware as soon as possible of a change in our school schedule. Due to ISTA’s Red for Ed Action Day, there will be no school on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. 

What is ISTA’s Red for Ed Action Day? Next week is American Education Week, and as a part of this week, ISTA is calling teachers across Indiana to action in support of public education. Our Indiana State Teacher’s Association is asking teachers to rally together at the state capitol on the Legislative Organizational Day as a walk-in to demand our state legislators invest in public education.

Why is school being cancelled? We support our teachers and their right to rally. We want to support their effort to spotlight the need for state investment in public education by allowing them to take time to do this. We also want to ensure the safety of our students. Due to the overwhelming support for this initiative and number of teachers rallying in support of education, we are not able to safely or effectively provide classroom instruction.

We know this is an inconvenience to our parents who must provide other alternatives on this day for their student. However, we support our teachers and their work to encourage change in legislation to provide the best public education possible for all Hoosier families.

How will this affect the school calendar? This will not be an E-Learning day and will affect our school calendar. Please note the last day of school for students will be Thursday, May 21, 2020. Teachers last day will be on Friday, May 22, 2020. Graduation will remain on May 29, 2020.

School will resume a normal schedule in all buildings on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your principal via email or phone.

Once again, we appreciate your continued partnership and will let you know of any alternative options on this day as we are notified.

Preparing Students to be Ahead of the Curve

Madison-Grant announces its partnership with as an addition to their early childhood curriculum as yet another piece of curriculum to round out a cutting-edge education through their early childhood programming. “seeks to blend the best aspects of learning science, mentoring relationships, and innovative technologies to form community, school, and home programs that deliver excellence and equity for all learners.” The program is currently being offered through Madison-Grant’s early childhood education programs and is being utilized in the classroom. Dr. Scott Deetz explains how Madison-Grant uses the tools provided by, “it's a vehicle for pre-k students to deliver curriculum that lends to academic development for our students. It’s part of our foundational curriculum that is in concert with live teaching. In our pre-k classroom, for example, a teacher is working at a center, then we'll have some students working independently through the software and monitor the progress on teacher assigned lessons based on level and interest that can adopt to students.” 

Madison-Grant extended their offerings in their community this year with the addition of the Argyll Adventure Academy, a STEM focused pre-k. Dr. Scott Deetz  says, “The intent of our early childhood programming, regardless of the program, is to develop a sound social and emotional foundations that will last through their career.” The addition of a STEM specific preschool is only one aspect says Deetz, “The steps we have taken is to have STEM related activities in each one of our pre-k programs. We went above and beyond to find outside funding through the Department of Education and grants to help develop our teachers professionally and also provide them with top notch resources like additional robots, computers, circuit boards, and software to deliver hands on experiences to our pre-k classes so our transition into our k–12 program is virtually seamless because this is the same focus we have in the rest of our system.” is an exciting part of this STEM focus in supporting teachers and students to be kindergarten ready as believes, “while every individual has the capacity for growth at every stage of life, childhood academic experiences are uniquely critical for setting a lifetime learning trajectory.”

Madison-Grant Starts Its STEM Focus at the Preschool Level

Rachel Dilts hands the four-year olds blue pegged geoboards. One student sits at a desk while others lie on their stomachs on a rug pulling rubber bands around the pegs to make squares, rectangles, and trapezoids. The exercise is part of a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) lesson at the Argyll Adventure Academy at Summitville Elementary School, believed to be the only STEM-related program serving Madison County preschoolers.

"I think it helps the students having hands-on learning where they're doing it themselves instead of all on paper," Dilts said. "They are a lot more involved when it's hands-on instead of so much paper."

Open to 15 four-year olds, the Argyll Adventure Academy is one of three preschool classrooms at Summitville, through it is a separate program from the other two. Please take a moment to read the entire Argyll Adventure Academy article

Summitville Elementary Reintroduces Cursive Writing

Article by Rebecca R. Bibbs with The Herald Bulletin. Photos by John P. Cleary

In Samantha Smith’s kindergarten classroom at Summitville Elementary School, an artist in a video instructs the dozen students to draw two long lines, then go out about an inch and draw a dot before connecting each line to the dot.

“Pinch it. Pick it up. Make the slide. Rest it on the next finger,” the voice instructs the students as they pick up a pencil to draw.

It may not seem the pencil that students are drawing and coloring in has anything to do with their ability to write in cursive, but the teachers and school leadership hope it will revive in Madison-Grant United School Corp. an increasingly lost art.

“There’s some science behind that that’s helping them with their grip,” said the school’s principal, Jackie Samuels.

As schools and districts have turned to computers over the past decades, students spend more time at keyboards and less time simply writing things down. Additionally, changes to Common Core standards that did not require handwriting further decreased students’ access to this once-important skill.

A 2017 survey by the Indiana Department of Education of school teachers and administrators concluded 70% supported a cursive writing requirement, but only about 20% of schools teach it.

Anne Trubek, author of “The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting,” said initially the demands for a return to instruction in cursive writing in popular culture were rooted more to an idea that someone who is unable to do so is less civilized, cultured or educated. More recently, however, the idea of being able to write in cursive has been part of a patriotic rallying cry closely allied with the call for school uniforms and the Pledge of Allegiance, she said.

But education experts are also increasingly calling for a better balance between keyboarding and writing because some studies demonstrate a brain-to-hand link that shows handwriting improves academic achievement in all disciplines. For instance, officials for the College Board, which develops and oversees the SAT test, reported students who wrote the essay portion of the exam in cursive scored higher than those who wrote in print.

Summitville Elementary School has partnered with DrawntoDiscover to help students master the fine motor skills necessary for good penmanship. DrawntoDiscover also helps students strengthen their socio-emotional skills as the presenters talk about peace and tolerance while they guide the students through their tasks, Samuels said.

“The kids love it because they don’t realize how they’re growing because they’re drawing,” she said. “It’s really a lost art, cursive writing.”

Allison Gill, who teaches sixth grade at Summitville, said she has seen a decline in students’ abilities to write in cursive and has to spend more time teaching them something they used to learn in earlier grades. That’s why she is happy to see the DrawntoDiscover curriculum come to her school and become implemented starting in kindergarten.

“We’re very lacking in fine motor skills these days. These are just muscles that don’t develop as early as they used to,” she said. “They have trouble reading what they wrote and what other people do, as well.”

Though most contemporary books and documents are printed with uniform type, there are instances in which knowing cursive comes in handy, Gill said. For instance, people need to develop their unique signatures to ward off fraud.

Knowing cursive is equally important for literacy, Gill said. Students may be required to read an older document, such as the U.S. Constitution in its original form, she said.

“Even some novels have sections that are written cursive,” she said.

Bringing It Back

The issue of writing in cursive remains intensely political.

Cursive writing has not been part of Indiana’s education standards for more than a decade, but some lawmakers are pushing for its return. Some Hoosier lawmakers would like to join the two dozen other states that have reintroduced cursive writing to their curriculums.

In 2018, state Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, for a seventh time authored a bill that would have required all traditional public, charter, and accredited nonpublic elementary schools to introduce cursive writing into their curriculum. It would have been considered a part of the English language arts standards.

In 2019, state Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, authored House Bill 1162, seeking the same.

Neither bill got very far in the process. Each year, Leising’s bill was killed by the House Education Committee chairman after passing the Senate.