Of all the schools in Indian River County, Beachland Elementary, the island’s only public school, showed the most improvement during the past school year.
Not only did its overall state grade jump from “C” to back to “A,” according to the 2018-19 report recently released by the Florida Department of Education, but the school racked up its highest overall point total ever – 497 out of a possible 700.
In another first for the school, all Beachland third-graders passed to the fourth grade this year.
The dramatic rebound for what had long been an “A” school before it slipped to a “C” in 2015 is credited by many School Board members to the leadership of Beachland principal Dr. Colleen Lord, who took over at the school two years ago. But not surprisingly, Lord insists it has been a “school and community effort.
“It starts with the classroom,” Lord says. “Our teachers have implemented strategies that reach every student. We provide a curriculum that challenges students and provides assistance to those who need it.”
For example, Beachland employs a literacy coach whose job is to look at student data and develop strategies to address the needs of students in grades K-5, Lord said.
The school offers an afterschool tutoring program for students struggling in math and reading, Lord said, and teachers work with students in special small groups to insure they receive the individualized attention they need to succeed.
Beachland staff is equally focused on helping students develop emotional and social skills, which Lord believes enhances their ability to learn.
“We have a very focused structure so that teachers know exactly where students need to be at the end of the year,” Lord said. “But it’s an ongoing process. I’m not looking at getting another ‘A’ from the state. I’m looking at improving the education of our students.”
Lorri Dior, whose has two children attending Beachland, said she looked closely at several schools before deciding to enroll her son at Beachland four years ago. Her son will be in fourth grade in the coming school year while and her daughter will be a first-grader.
“I have nothing but accolades for Dr. Lord and the teachers here,” Dior said. “They have a unique way of making sure all students’ needs are met. It’s amazing.”
“Beachland has always been seen as one of the most highly reputable public elementary schools in Indian River County,” School Board Chairman Laura Zorc said.
“Beachland is a fantastic neighborhood school all around. We are extremely proud of our little Sharks.”