middle school gets state attention
An honor such as being ranked second in the state for growth on
ISTEP+ scores isnt one that comes often, or easy for a school.
Dr. John Mehrle, superintendent for South Ripley Schools is proud
of the accomplishments of the middle school staff and students
as they were recently honored for their efforts to promote academics.
A letter from Tosha Salyers, director of educator outreach for
the Indiana Department of Education, outlined the accomplishment
that brought about excitement within the ranks at South Ripley.
The letter noted, your school was one of the top five middle
schools in the state for growth on the ISTEP+ exam from 2009-2010.
It went on to congratulate the school on the amazing achievement.
Salyers noted that a vital part of achieving this kind of prestigious
status is having access to strategies that work in the classroom.
She then asked if the staff would be willing to partner with the
Indiana Department of Education.
The staff has been asked to participate in the Learning Connection
- a place where educators can collaborate, network, share and
access Indiana Growth Model data. Salyer noted that because of
the success on the ISTEP+ exam, the state will be sending a representative
to host a Learning Connection workshop at the school.
While the first hour of the workshop will be teaching the staff
about the features of the program, the second part of the session
will be gleaning information from South Ripley teachers. They
will be using the Learning Connection program and loading lesson
plans from South Ripley to share with schools around the state.
New South Ripley Middle School Principal Rodney Hite noted, They
(state representatives) are coming to our school in October to
conduct a special workshop with us and learn what we are doing
to be so successful.
Last year was the first time the seventh and eighth grades at
South Ripley were separate from the rest of the high school. Dr.
Mehrle was the administrator over the middle school and is particularly
excited about this new turn of events. He said he appreciates
the current board members support of him launching the new junior
He said the board has supported him also in the past three years
in his role as the assistant superintendent in taking risks and
exploring progressive ideas in regard to developing new curriculum
and more. They have been supportive of exploring new teaching
strategies and moving the school corporation forward through creation
and implementation of a PL 221 school improvement process, according
He noted that the situation is much better with the seventh and
eighth grades having their separate identity. Dr. Mehrle told
The Versailles Republican last year was a time of transition
where the environment was very disciplined. He said they stressed
academics, implemented a dress code, among other things, and believed
the process would work. The recent letter from the state confirmed
his beliefs that the concept is working. We held students
accountable and created high expectations for academic performance,
When asked what some of the key components were to the success
of the students and staff, Dr. Mehrle said the teachers work as
a team - the seventh grade teachers all coming together as well
as eighth grade teachers, which creates more of a nurturing approach
for the students. He said the inclusion of special needs students
in the classrooms also helps the general education students as
well, due to more differential instruction.
Another key to success according to Mehrle is the disciplined
environment, putting academics first. He had high regard for Principals
Mark Collier and Amy Linkel and the sixth grade teachers at the
elementary school for giving the students a great foundation
to build on. Several meetings were held between the junior high
and elementary school teachers to talk about the students, academic
needs and coordination of the transition.
Dr. Mehrle was quick to say he wasnt alone in the process
of bringing the students to the level they are now. He gave accolades
to Joyce Druba, the junior high guidance counselor, who he worked
closely with last year. Mrs. Druba worked on curriculum
and also supervised our homework recovery lunch period,
he told The Versailles Republican.
When students didnt turn their homework in they were held
accountable during the lunch period, according to Dr. Mehrle.
By offering such programs were trying to create the
expectation that students do not have an option to not turn in
their work and/or fail, he stated.
The superintendent in his first year in the position at South
Ripley, is proud of the teachers for their willingness to try
new concepts. He is proud of the students, who are willing to
learn in a different environment, and thanks the parents for their
support. He noted it takes a lot of people working together to
have a successful school and feels there is great potential at