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Scholls Heights Elementary School

On a hallway wall near the cafeteria at Scholls Heights Elementary School, is a wonderful art installation. The very first year the school opened in September 1999, students, staff members and parents painted self-portraits on tiles. The project was erected the next year, coordinated by the President of the school's parent organization.

Community involvement has always been at the forefront at Scholls Heights. "We have 20 to 30 volunteers on a daily basis," says Principal Sheila Baumgardner. "There's a real sense of  "it's our school." Those volunteers are responsible for the school's Art Literacy program. It culminates in a spring art show, where students show their projects from throughout the year. "It's great," says Baumgardner, "The students have the job of docent and guide the parents through."

The 540 students at Scholls Heights strive to achieve the status of "star student." The teacher leadership team guides the program. "Students genuinely want to be a star student," says Baumgardner, "it's a school-wide effort."

The classrooms are Scholls Heights are organized into pods, with several classes from each grade sharing a space. Although there are walls between the classrooms, there are no doors. Students in one 2nd grade class are learning about bats. Paper bats hang from the ceiling, a bulletin board displays facts about bats, written in brightly colored markers, and on this particular day, students are writing about bats.

Baumgardner credits the school's success to the fact that in everything they do, the kids come first. "From staff to the community, it's really about, how do we collectively make it so every child can be successful."