School News

News for Little Giants Preschool


Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News Marion Community Schools welcomes Dr. Gwendolyn Battle Lavert, Ph.D, as our next principal of Frances Slocum Elementary School.

Lavert is a veteran educator with a focus on literacy development. In addition to serving as a teacher and school administrator, she has also spent significant time as a coach in the areas of literacy, school improvement and turnaround, and professional development across the U.S. as well as in Europe and the Middle East.

She has also served as a consultant to educational publishers, and has published several children’s books, along with several teacher resource books for improving literacy.

“Dr. Lavert is a scholar, a literacy expert, and a teacher of teachers,” Marion Community Schools Superintendent Brad Lindsay said. “She understands literacy, data, poverty, and diverse cultures, and she understands and loves the people and community of Marion, Indiana. Dr. Lavert is a positive and enthusiastic professional educator and a proactive communicator. She is a visionary leader who is passionate about training all staff and clearing the way for continuous growth and progress for all children — the whole child — in every area of their lives.”

Lavert said she is looking forward to this new opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to making an impact on not only Frances Slocum Elementary School, but also on Marion Community Schools,” Lavert said. “I believe in high intellectual performance. It’s important that all children are successful and that they are moved to reach their potential.”

Michele Smith, who is stepping into the role of Director of Elementary Education for Marion Community Schools, said she looks forward to seeing the progress that will be made with the addition of Lavert to the team.

“We are excited about the combination of Dr. Lavert’s literacy expertise and the heart of our staff and Frances Slocum community. Together we believe we can accomplish great things,” Smith said.

Lavert earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education / early childhood at Texas A&M University, and her master’s as a literacy specialist there as well. She earned her Ph.D in educational leadership / administration at Indiana State University.

“Marion Community Schools is committed to the centrality of student learning, collaboration for constructive and continuous change, and equity and access for all,” Lindsay said. “We believe that Dr. Lavert is the right leader for Frances Slocum Elementary today, and we eagerly anticipate an excellent family partnership and the growth of our staff and our students under her leadership.”
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News Marion Community Schools welcomes Trudy Grafton as our next principal of Kendall Elementary School.

Grafton is a veteran educator and a proven leader specializing in building and maintaining school cultures of academic and behavioral excellence while meeting the needs of economically and culturally diverse learners. She has been nationally recognized for professional development and school improvement.

“We believe strongly that Trudy Grafton is the right leader at the right time for Kendall Elementary School,” Marion Community Schools Superintendent Brad Lindsay said. “Her passion for and experience in serving schools and students who face challenging situations is a great fit for Marion schools. Trudy has a track record of influencing school cultures of academic and behavioral excellence while meeting the needs of diverse learners. We believe she will help us make better happen for all of our students, families, and community, as well as provide opportunity for our teachers and staff to grow professionally.”

Grafton said she is looking forward to this new opportunity.

“It will be an honor to work with the dynamic educational team at Marion Community Schools to support the learning of all students. I believe that high expectations equal high results. All children are capable of learning, and it is our responsibility to support their individual success,” Grafton said. “I believe in the power of yet; education is an ongoing process, and I am confident that we as a building team and as a district team will continue to increase the academic achievements of all students.”

Michele Smith, who is stepping into the role of Director of Elementary Education for Marion Community Schools, said she anticipates great things to come with the addition of Grafton to the team.

“Mrs. Grafton brings experience in building collaborative teams that will enhance the strong staff and parent involvement at Kendall Elementary. We look forward to taking literacy and learning to the next level,” Smith said.

Grafton earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Defiance College in Ohio, and earned her master’s in education from the University of Toledo, where she also went on to earn her education specialist certification in administration/supervision and curriculum/instruction.

“We believe that Trudy Grafton’s passion for learning, along with her team building experience, knowledge, and leadership, will inspire growth for both our staff and our students,” Lindsay said. “Marion Community Schools is committed to student-centered learning, to collaboration and continuous constructive change, and to equity and access for all students. Trudy will model and lead the way in all of these areas.”
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News Marion Community Schools is pleased to announce its new director of elementary education: Michele Smith.

Smith has served in various roles for Marion Community Schools, including teacher, preschool manager, elementary principal, and most recently curriculum coordinator with a focus on secondary education and technology. To her new role she brings expertise in curriculum development, data analysis, professional development, parent involvement, and much more. She will focus on P-6 education and will also head up Title I programming for the district.

Marion Community Schools Superintendent Brad Lindsay said Smith’s experience will be invaluable.

“Michele Smith is moving into her niche role as director of elementary education and Title I administrator,” Lindsay said. “Her experience as an early childhood teacher, elementary principal, and district curriculum coordinator prepares her well for this role.”

Smith said she is looking forward to this new opportunity.

“My passion is literacy and supporting students to reach their full potential. I want to support buildings as they design individualized instruction to meet students’ needs,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to building on my past experiences here at Marion Community Schools and continuing to invest in the families of our community.”

Lindsay said he is looking forward to continued progress as Smith steps into this new role.

“Michele is a doer, a producer, and an excellent communicator. She is mission-motivated, and she loves the faculty, staff, students, families, and community of Marion,” he said. “Michele is a collaborative leader, an excellent facilitator, and professional trainer. Her passion includes early childhood literacy and working with teams of administrators and teachers to make better learning experiences and opportunities happen for the students of Marion. Michele is the right leader at the right time to take the baton and continue our path upward.”

Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Virginia, her master’s in early childhood Ball State University, and is completing her doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction through Oakland City University.
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News Marion Community Schools is a Summer Food Service Program participant. Free breakfast and lunch is available to the public (to anyone 18 or younger) as follows this summer:

All meals will be served at the cafeteria at Marion High School, 750 W. 26th St., Monday through Thursday, June 5 through June 29.
  • Breakfast for the public will be served from 8:30 to 8:40 a.m.
  • Lunch for the public will be served from 12:30 a.m. to 12:40 Monday through Wednesday and 11:30 to 11:40 on Thursday.
Giant Summer Academy and MHS summer session students will also be provided free breakfast and lunch, but there will be separate meal times for them: 7:30 to 8 a.m. for breakfast, and between 11 and 12:30 p.m. for lunch Monday through Wednesday, and 11 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, or sack lunch on field trips.

The Summer Food Service Program for Children was created to serve nutritious meals to children when the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program meals are not available. Under this program, free meals are provided to all eligible children ages 1 to 18 as well as people with disabilities, regardless of age, who participate in a special education program.

Acceptance and participation requirements for the program are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

>> Click here for a flier to post or make copies available in your office or business, or to hand out to those who need to know
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News Little Giants Preschool is now an Indiana On My Way Pre-K provider, as part of the expansion of the state-funded pilot program.

The Indiana Legislature opted to roll all current grantees in the early education matching grant (EEMG) program into the On My Way Pre-K expansion. Marion Community Schools was named an EEMG grantee in 2016, covering the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

This change will allow Little Giants Preschool to maintain the added enrollment spots for 4-year-olds made possible by the EEMG, because funding will continue to be available past the original expiration of 2018. This means more spots will be available for low-income families every year, through this funding stream alone. (This is in addition to federally funded spots at Little Giants Preschool’s Head Start program, which also meets needs of low-income families, and federal Title I funding, used to boost academic success.)

Preschool expansion was one of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s priorities, and although the funding provided falls below what he and preschool advocates originally had asked for, he praised the action.

“This important legislation gives more children in more counties the chance to start their educational journey on the right foot,” he said in a statement after the legislation passed.

Not only is this news incredibly exciting, but it is extremely important for our whole community. With nearly one-third of children in Grant County living in poverty, this free, high-quality preschool option is an essential component to the success of our community. High quality early childhood education provides opportunities for our children to build their language skills, their social skills, their math concept awareness, and more, building a foundation for lifelong learning and success.

Marion Community Schools is grateful for the community support that paved the way for this development, with their donations that made participation in the EEMG possible. Those funds will go even farther under the On My Way Pre-K program, which has a much smaller matching funds requirement.

Kerri Wortinger, Little Giants Preschool director, expressed gratitude to the community and school leaders who made this possible through their work and donations, and to the state for recognizing the vision, commitment, and quality of the program and the school system.

“We know that high-quality early learning can help fill the gaps that many of our children have when it comes to language skills and other experiences,” she said. “It is so exciting to be able to give more kids this crucial opportunity!”

Enrollment assignments for the 2017-18 school year have already been made, but we will continue to accept applications to fill spots that are open or any that re-open. Little Giants Preschool maintains a waiting list year-round. Call 651-2080 for more information.