Volume No. 16 Issue No. 10 October 2019  

  New principal at Wolford Elementary

     After 11 years of service, Bob Wedel, principal of Edith Wolford Elementary since 2007, retired last spring. The assistant principal, Robin Lowery, has taken the reigns from Wedel.
   “I decided to apply for the principal job because Wolford is more than a school, it’s a family,” Lowery said. “And I thought I want to have the opportunity to continue to grow with this family.”
   Lowery said she has been in education 26 years. She said she moved to Colorado Springs 15 years ago, and started teaching in Academy School District 20. Lowery has taught in elementary school and held various district positions before becoming the assistant principal at Edith Wolford four years ago.
   “I was enjoying my teaching position on the west side of town, when the assistant principal position opened up,” Lowery said. “And I thought Bob Wedel and the school have such a great reputation I decided it was worth leaving my position and applied for the job.”
   Lowery said she wants to provide the best educational experience, which includes challenging the students and meeting their needs. One educational experience Lowery said she is excited about is co-teaching. “You can walk into any classroom, and you will see anywhere from two to four adults teaching together,” Lowery said. “That speaks volumes of the trust and respect we have for each other as staff.” They based their program on the book by Anne M. Beninghof, “Co-Teaching That Works” where anyone from a paraprofessional to parent volunteer to resource teacher are all in one room working with small groups of students. The classroom teacher is responsible for identifying various needs and skills and assigning students to small groups where the co-teachers can hone in on those skills. Lowery said they have embraced the concept, and last year invited principals from across the district to observe. She said all the invited guests said they could not tell which person in the classroom was the teacher. “I feel like the (negative) behaviors have decreased because there are so many more adults in the room, and the kids are more engaged because there isn’t so much lag,” Lowery said.
   The school also focuses on health and wellness, she said. They follow “The Great Body Shop” curriculum, which is taught to the children at school and shared with families at home, she said. They also hold a Health Jam every February — a day that centers on social and emotional wellness. The community gets involved, and the kids have participated in everything from yoga to Zumba to Kaiser Permanente bringing their smoothie truck and giving out samples, Lowery said.
   The school also uses the RULER program, which she said is innovative and effective. “It’s pretty exciting. We teach the children to recognize, understand, label, express and regulate their emotions as needed,” she said. There are meta-moment stations in each classroom. If the student is feeling anxious or frustrated, teachers can give them permission to take a timed break at the station. There might be a little Zen garden or squishy balls or a glittery water bottle at the station, which is calming, Lowery said. The idea is to teach the kids to deal with their emotions and be responsible for their actions by learning ways to de-stress.
   They also take “brain breaks” throughout the day by encouraging movement, stretching or mindful meditation, she said. “Asking children to not move is like asking a child who wears glasses to take off their glasses and put them away; so why would we not work with those different learning styles,” Lowery said.
   She said she is also proud of the Significant Severe Needs students program. Lowery said the severe needs students are assimilated into a general classroom when possible, where they learn appropriate behaviors by observing their peers. In turn, the students in the general classroom learn compassion and understanding.
   “We do a lot for the kids, and definitely everyone’s heart is in it,” Lowery said. “I don’t think there’s a better place to be.”
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