Tiny cosmetic improvements sure can add up — and the result is amazing when you step inside Nord Middle School.
“It’s all about increasing pride and showing the pride we have in our building,” said principal Jill Jiovanazzo, showing off the many touches that have been added over the summer.
Lockers have been painted and volunteers from the Nordson Corporation and Nord PTO spent two days painting hallways.
The school gym has also gotten a fresh coat of paint, including its ceiling, and the PTO donated new wall pads, breathing new life into the room.
Custodians put a lot of attention into the floors. There’s a giant green-and-gold decal on the front doors. Damaged ceiling tiles have been replaced. New lighting is brightening up some areas. The office has new furniture. And the cafeteria has new tables.
Perhaps the most important update is a new $415,000 roof by West Roofing Systems of LaGrange.
“It’s not something you really see, but you certainly will know it’s a new roof when water isn’t leaking in anymore,” Jiovanazzo said.
The closure of Harris Elementary School last year caused cramped quarters at Nord as grades were shuffled around. An enrollment decrease will give students in grades three to five a little more elbow room in 2018-2019 — the year is expected to start with 760 kids, down from about 800 last fall.
That’s a relief, said Jiovanazzo. It means two classes sharing the media center will now get their own rooms.
Third and fourth grade teachers have created a custom science curriculum package that fits their needs, while the fifth grade has purchased a brand new one.
The change is cyclical; math and language arts have gotten similar upgrades in recent years and now it’s science’s turn, the principal said. Textbooks were not up to date, teachers were creating a lot of their own materials, and technology was not a strong enough part of the old curriculum, she said.
Technology is a focus across the district. At Nord, fifth-graders will each have access to a Chromebook in their classrooms.
More playtime is being incorporated into the daily schedule. Lunch periods and recess will both expand to 30 minutes to give kids more time to move around, decompress between morning and afternoon sessions, and shed excess energy.
“We recognized kids need more time to play outside,” said Jiovanazzo. “When they play more, you can really tell the difference in their attention and performance.”
And finally, the school has adopted a new motto: “One team, one goal.” Everyone, teachers and students alike, needs to be on the same page and understand what needs to be accomplished.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.