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RES receives visit from “sister” school
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Robinson Elementary hosted representatives from Sand Hill Elementary Jan. 28. From left: RES Principal Page Arnette, SHES special education teacher Sara Kieffer, SHES fifth grade teacher Tabitha Edenfield, SHES Principal Christy Brown, SHES instructional supervisor Michelle Corless kindergarten teacher Amanda Sanders, fourth grade teacher Olivia Osborne and RES Assistant Principal Linda Bearden. - photo by Jessica Taylor

Robinson Elementary School hosted administrators and teachers from Sand Hill Elementary School in Effingham County for a collaborative day Jan. 28.

Every two years, each of the schools in Effingham County, which is located near Savannah, ge

Sand Hill is a Title 1 School like Robinson and is one of seven elementary schools in its district. It currently has approximately 700 students in pre-K to fifth grade classes.t together to look for schools that are similar in size, demographic and academics to visit during the school year.

And Robinson just happened to be a match, a “sister” school for Sand Hill both academically and demographically.

With resources available through the Georgia Department of Education, SHES Principal Christy Brown. Brown was able to get in touch with RES principal Page Arnette and plan a visit where she, along with Instructional Supervisor Michelle Corless and four teachers, would spend a day overseeing the day-to-day operations at RES.

“It was a very collaborative atmosphere,” Brown said. “They wanted to talk to us and learn from us just as much as we wanted to learn from them.”

The crew from Sand Hill took tours of classrooms to meet with teachers and students as well as sat down with Arnette and assistant principal Linda Bearden for a presentation on the school’s data collection, organization of meetings and the creation of the RES vision.

“We wanted ultimately everybody who is associated with Robinson to have a distinctive mark about them, the mark of the tiger,” Arnette said about the creation of the school’s vision.

The school’s motto “seeing possibilities, setting goals, cultivating growth and celebrating achievement” was created last year and Arnette believes it’s those four principles that the school should produce for its students.

“I would rather have people expect more out of our kids than to assume that they can do less,” Arnette said.

One of the ways RES has embraced the “mark of the tiger” has been through the 1:1 initiative. Now in its second year with iPads for each student, teachers and students were able to provide some insight for the Sand Hill representatives as they adapt to their own 1:1 this year.

Upper level students at Sand Hill received Chromebooks, the technology tool used by the district to conduct Milestones testing.

But unlike Dawson County, which was able to use ESPLOST funds to help fund the 1:1, Effingham County relies on the district finding the funds in the budget because there is no ESPLOST.

“I think with our district it’s burdened on the district to supply them so maybe that’s why we aren’t completely 1:1 in the district. We’re very close to being 1:1 but we’re still not quite there,” Brown said. “It’s finding those pots of money to try to make sure we get those in the hands of students.”

Across the board, Brown and her team were impressed with how engaged the students at Robinson were, not just with the technology, and how the teachers collaborate with each other.

“The expectation was the same for every student. You didn’t see a differentiation between a special education student – I wouldn’t have even known, I couldn’t tell you who was who,” Michelle Corless said.

The visit to Dawson County allowed for both schools to learn from each other, build friendships and collaborate to help create stronger learning environments for students.

“It’s been exciting to just know that someone’s out there that’s like us that’s working on the same work,” Arnette said.