Geographical location and a student’s education are interrelated. The geography of where a student lives strongly impacts the education the student may receive. When the student goes to a school that is decided for them by geography, or where they live, the outcome is not always a good fit and then sometimes, it’s the best. Three Fires Elementary School (TFES) is located outside of the town of Howell, Michigan. To the average person, it may seem rural but in reality, it is still in the city limits. This elementary schools geographic location is not adversely affected due to the availability of resources near by. Due to our proximity to Detroit, many of our families are employed by the auto industry. They value education and the part it has played in the advancement of their careers therefore they support and value education in the lives of their children.
The socioeconomic status of students can greatly impact teaching and learning. The Howell Public School District covers approximately a 5 -mile radius. Within the district, there are areas that are upper middle class living in high-end homes as well as lower class living in trailer parks. The district level school board has the greatest power and authorization to implement and enforce educational policy. The federal government supplies minimal funding but it is up to the school district to allocate where those funds are spent, selecting appropriate materials for teaching, hire new teachers, and train the existing teachers on staff. The socioeconomic status of its students is what drives the district administrators to select the appropriate material to be taught in their area. Without taking into consideration the status of our students, we would be missing the mark on educating our students.
The community and school population can impact teaching and learning at the school level. The population of students at Howell Public Schools has increasingly been declining since 2007. So much that the district decided to close one of its elementary schools and combine it with another. Southeast Elementary School, in one of the lower income areas, closed its doors at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Its staff and students are now part of Three Fires Elementary School, (TFE), approximately 5 miles to the west. Due to the combination of schools and it’s degree of elevated misbehavior, Three Fires Elementary School has developed a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support system, (PBIS), and hired extra staff to try and minimalize the behaviors that have erupted since the consolidation of the two schools. Southeast was a school of roughly 350 students and TFE was close to the same count. Now, we have an elementary school consisting of approximately 750 students and 41 teachers. The TFE building was built to be a middle school but was quickly turned into an elementary school as the middle school population became too much for the building to handle.
Due to the population of the school, as well as the dynamics of the building, it makes teaching and learning somewhat of a task each day. It is difficult to collaborate with your grade level teammates due to the distance between classes. Also, the walk from one end of the building to the other only invites misbehavior and too much down time. Because of the distance between the classrooms and student bathrooms and lockers, it makes it very difficult to keep an eye on your students while they are transitioning from one thing to another. Due to the elevated behaviors, and the time it takes to deal with such, it makes learning for many students challenging and somewhat impossible. Since implementing the PBIS system, TFE is making a positive impact in choking out the behaviors and teaching students to handle themselves in a more appropriate way and make positive choices.