It was a great school year for Tish Mineer, principal of Melvin E. Sine Elementary School. She was named Principal of the Year in the Glendale Elementary School District, students’ vision has newfound clarity, and she’s set her sights on an important public service campaign for 2014-2015.
Sine became a Beat the Odds Partner School two years ago — the same time Mineer was promoted to principal. Previously, she was assistant principal for five years.
“Understanding the living, breathing campus put me in a better position to ‘build to suit,'” she said commenting on one of Beat the Odds six keys to success. “While data and statistics are very important indicators, knowing the school’s culture and understanding what works are foundational. There is no magic bullet, and it’s not just one thing that makes a school successful.”
Sine has approximately 760 students pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Ninety-one percent of the student population receives free or reduced lunch. There are 40 teachers and a total staff of 85.
Mineer was nominated for the Principal of the Year honor by several members of the staff, who praised her for her ability to build an inclusive culture, support her staff, recognize accomplishments, to be open to creative learning solutions and to create a welcoming campus.
“I appreciate the support, encouragement, time and professionalism I’ve received through being a part of Beat the Odds,” she said. “Glynda Underwood has been a wonderful mentor and coach.”
A New Outlook on Learning
In Beat the Odds Institute’s history, there has never been a “build to suit” initiative quite like the problem Sine identified — and overcame with community support.
Mineer was perplexed. She knew the teachers were on track teaching the right curriculum and that the school was doing a lot of things right, but many students were still struggling. It was the school nurse, Mary Davey, who suggested that maybe there was a vision problem — as in students who couldn’t see clearly.
An initial screening revealed that of 66 students, 44 had impaired vision.
“Eye exams are especially important for grade school children. It’s impossible to read if you can’t see,” Mineer said. “We encouraged parents to have their children’s eyes checked.”
Recognizing many parent’s constraints and financial circumstances, Mineer and her team embarked on a short-term solution using larger print in interventions. Then there was a community godsend.
Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry came to the campus and screened 271 students for free. VSP Mobile Eyes sent its mobile eye-care clinic to the school. Eighty-eight students came away with no-cost eyeglasses and a brand new outlook.
“The grins on their faces were priceless,” Mineer said.”It has made a huge difference. We “built to suit” what we needed for our students.”
Setting Sights For Next Year
Needless to say, Mineer is the kind of strong and steady principal who makes things happen. Her next crusade is educating parents on how essential it is for grade school students to stay in the same school for the whole school year. She is frustrated by the transient nature of student populations. “”We need a public service campaign focusing on parents,” she concluded.
For additional information about Beat the Odds, visit www.beattheoddsinstitute.org