Photo: A student at East End Community School does a math activity.
At East End Community School (EECS), we begin our day by welcoming students and staff in 23 different languages, including American Sign Language. One of the most diverse schools in the state of Maine, EECS is the elementary partner program of the Maine Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and a majority of students and families are multilingual.
In addition to our cultural diversity, our staff, families, and community partners are another asset. We have embraced Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships, and we start each school day by focusing on relationships through our Rise and Shine program. It provides deeply engaging, student-selected activities that are relevant and led by community members and staff. The groups are generally small and provide students with the opportunity to dive into a passion or learn a new, challenging skill.
Implementing Rise and Shine at East End
This ACLU of Maine report summed up the program’s
purpose best: “The concept seems simple enough—let students choose what they want
to do at the very beginning of the school day, and they’ll be more
successful throughout the day. Rise and Shine allows the school to swing
away from a deficit model and what students need help with at the very
start of the day and instead focuses on the idea of success for each
Ten years ago, East End was identified as one of the five lowest ranked schools in the state and went into the School Improvement Grant (SIG) process. That's when staff started to annually attend ICLE's annual Model Schools Conference (MSC) and to utilize the evidence-based strategies discussed at the conference to improve student outcomes. Rise and Shine was a concept that we initially encountered at MSC.
Improving student attendance, behavior, and achievement was the goal. Rise and Shine provided student voice and choice, incentivized students to arrive at school on time, and helped them have a positive start to their school day.
Before the pandemic, Rise and Shine offered students upwards of 80 morning activity choices every week, including finger-knitting, drumming, violin, STEM, yoga, ukulele, poetry, gardening, and many more. The activities were built into the beginning of each school day so that third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students could all participate in some way. Student voice and choice were a key component of the program. Students participated in a different activity each day of the week for a total of 12 weeks before choosing new activities. Given COVID guidelines, we currently offer Rise and Shine virtually on Wednesdays.
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