2018-08-12 / News

New principal starts at Columbiaville Elementary

LakeVille restructure begins this year
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com

New Columbiaville Elementary principal Vanessa Ziobro (right), along with maintenance staff member Pam Thibert, have been working through the summer preparing the building for the coming school year. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’ll be good,” said Thibert. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese New Columbiaville Elementary principal Vanessa Ziobro (right), along with maintenance staff member Pam Thibert, have been working through the summer preparing the building for the coming school year. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’ll be good,” said Thibert. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese COLUMBIAVILLE — Starting from scratch. That’s the feeling in the halls of Columbiaville Elementary School as the building prepares for a new school year that’s bringing significant changes to the school and the LakeVille Community Schools District.

Columbiaville Elementary has a new principal in Vanessa Ziobro, and when students arrive for the first day of school Aug. 28 they’ll be the first group of students to experience the district’s consolidation, that saw the shuddering of both Otisville and Otter Lake elementaries. Columbiaville Elementary, now the district’s sole elementary school, will house the district’s K-4 students.

There’s a feeling of renewal in the air, and according to Ziobro, it’s exciting. “The teachers have been working all through the summer to get ready,” she said. “They were a little nervous at first but everyone is really excited for what the potential can be.”

LakeVille’s restructure was approved by the Board of Education lasts year and the reconfigured grade levels and buildings have gone into effect for the coming school year. Columbiaville Elementary will now be home to all students K-4, while LakeVille Middle School is now home to students 5-8 and LakeVille Memorial High School remains 9-12. According to district Superintendent Michael Lytle, the coming year will be pivotal for LakeVille Community Schools. “The staff will be focused on Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, while using data on a regular basis to drive our instruction and interventions,” he said. “We will have more supports and opportunities for our students and our community. “

Not only was the district restructured, said Ziobro, so was Columbiaville Elementary itself. “We had to reconfigure the whole building too, so like grades were together,” she said. “We moved the library, the art room — it was a lot of work, the janitors have been amazing.”

Lytle also credited the custodial and maintenance staff with making the transition a smooth one. “The maintenance staff was outstanding this summer - logistically, the maintenance (staff) was able to move two buildings into one, while maintaining and completing the thorough summer cleaning of every room in the building,” he said. “The teaching staff had done an excellent job packing up their rooms from their previous location in anticipation for their move to their new location. Many staff have taken it upon themselves to make improvements to their new rooms as well, such as fresh paint and accessories.”

The restructure has brought some added benefits of continuity, said Ziobro. Before, pre-K and kindergarten students attended Otisville Elementary, then moved on to Otter Lake for grades 1 and 2, then to Columbiaville Elementary for grades 3-5. Now, those students will remain in the same building from kindergarten to fourth-grade. “The kindergarten teachers and the 1-2 grade teachers are excited to see the kids they teach grow and advance through the grades,” said Ziobro. The consolidation into a single elementary building has resulted in increased ease logistically as well, said Lytle. “Parents have even commented on how nice it will be to travel to one destination vs. three as we had previously,” he said. “Parents are looking forward to one set of fundraisers, one set of parent teacher conferences and one point of contact for their children.”

The greatest improvement going into the new school year, said Lytle, is the effect the move will have on the increased level of professional collaboration between the teaching staff. “Having K-4 in one facility will open dialogue, create a more efficient model of teaching and data collection that in turn provide a stronger academic model for our students,” he said. According to Lytle, the district’s focus on literacy will be especially benefitted by the restructure, and through the change the district was able to add an additional literacy coach to work alongside the district’s trained paraprofessionals to create a literacy team of two certified teachers and up to seven literacy trained paraprofessionals. “Though this practice is common in schools today, this amount of trained professional staffing is unheard of,” said Lytle. “Great things are in store for LakeVille Community Schools for sure.”

With the shuddering of two buildings, Ziobro said there was concern that some of the traditions held by Otisville and Otter Lake, like perennial favorite Bingo for Books, would have been left behind. That’s not the case, she said. “We’re trying to blend all the buildings together, but we also want to forge new traditions,” she said. “We’ve been brainstorming with parent groups.” According to Lytle, it’ll be a benefit to have the traditions of three buildings under one roof. “The restructuring will actually make these community events stronger through efficiency and solidarity,” he said.

Another favorite tradition, the Veterans Appreciation Day held yearly at Columbiaville Elementary, will continue, and Ziobro said the goal is to make it even bigger and better than before. “We’re working with Steve Bourcier (of Otisville American Legion Post 321), and we have some big plans,” she said.

Overall, said Ziobro, the transition into the new role as principal in a building undergoing its own significant transition has been surprisingly smooth. “Everyone’s excited to be here which makes it a very easy transition,” she said. “It’s a new building, new staff, new principal. There was a little apprehensiveness, but we can’t wait to get started,” said Ziobro.

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