Gregorio T. Camacho (GTC) Elementary School is located in the northern rural village of San Roque on the northwest shore of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Established back in 1951, GTC was always known as one of the public schools with a small student population. However, since the merging of Tanapag Elementary School and GTC Elementary, the student population has significantly increased in the last three years. GTC opened this School Year 2018-2019 with 342 students and serves the villages of Capitol Hill (Northwest of Egigi Dr.), Sadog Tasi, As Mahetok, Tanapag, San Roque, Achugao, and As Matuis. GTC serves many families from diverse ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. At the end of school year 2017-2018, 74% of GTC students qualified for the free meal program, while the rest received reduced meals. About 45% of our student population are of Chamorro descent, 15% Filipino, 6% Carolinian, and smaller percentages that include students of Caucasian, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Chuukese, Marshallaese, Morlockese, Myanmar, Palauan, Pohnpeian, Russian, and Yapese descent. In school year 2017-2018, 29% of GTC’s student population were identified as English Language Learners, 9% receiving Title I services, and 8% identified for Special Education services. The GTC Elementary school faculty and staff are committed to helping students achieve their goals and fullest potential. Our faculty consists of a total of 32 staff. Seventy-five percent of our staff are of Chamorro descent, 15% Filipino, and the remaining are Chinese and Palauan. The school administration consists of a Principal and Vice Principal. Our support staff include a secretary, administrative assistant, and building maintenance. The teaching faculty include fifteen classroom teachers, two Special Education teachers, three Special Education teacher aides, and two classroom teacher aides. GTC is assigned one Literacy Coach and a Title I Teacher. We also have two instructors in our Chamorro Carolinian Language Heritage Studies (CCLHS) program and a School Counselor that serves the entire student body. Eight out of fifteen or 53% of the teaching staff have attained their Master’s Degree. About 90% of our teachers, including Special Education, are certified by our CNMI Board of Education. The school counselor, principal, vice principal, and CCLHS Instructors are also certified by the Board. One major change that occurred since the last Accreditation Review was the merging of Tanapag and GTC Elementary School. The significant increase in student population has caused a need for additional classrooms and teachers. The shortage of classrooms has affected our class sizes, as well as storage space. Large class sizes have in turn affected our student achievement data, with the challenge of meeting the diverse needs of all students.
GTC’s purpose statement is aligned with the CNMI Public School System’s Philosophy, Vision, Mission, and Purpose. This alignment ensures the consistency of the educational programs for all students at GTC Elementary. Our school’s philosophy is that we believe all students can learn, belong, and contribute.
Our purpose at Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School is to provide an environment that supports the physical, emotional, social, and academic growth of all students. This environment allows all students to develop their full potential and to become contributing members in their families, their community, and the world.
During School Year 2013-2014, GTC launched the pilot program, Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) under the guidance of a former PSS Behavior Specialist. The goal of the program is to improve student academic and behavior outcomes, ensuring that all students have access to the most effective and accurately implemented instructional and behavioral practices and interventions possible. During our pilot year, the PBS Committee members and classroom teachers were able to produce school-wide expectations and common-area rules and procedures.
The Binadu B’s are the agreed upon school-wide expectations of our staff, students, and school community. Living up to these expectations will ensure a safe, positive, and caring school environment. The expectations are Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Positive. In support of our Binadu B’s, classes integrate character education through The Virtues Project. Monthly virtue themes and weekly virtues are included in our school calendar and weekly bulletin. Teachers integrate lessons and activities to teach the virtues. Students are awarded for their character with our quarterly Virtues Award.
In support of the social and emotional growth of all students, our school counselor collaborates with school staff, Student Council, and the school administration to conduct individual, small-group, and classroom guidance lessons. Our counselor utilizes many resources and activities from the Second Step Curriculum available at our school, as well as other resources following the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) standards.
The Title I Consolidated Grant, Local Operations Allocation, Wellness Allocation, and Parent Involvement funding allow our school to purchase instructional materials, resources, and training needed to support student learning. GTC’s main focus during school year 2017- 2019 was to implement evidence-based strategies and instructional support to help meet our school’s initiative of every student making progress in Reading and Math by increasing their Scaled Score to meet or surpass the grade-level benchmarks, as well as improving writing skills.
The school’s leadership team developed leadership responsibilities and actions to guide all staff and stakeholders in collaborating to achieve the school initiative. GTC’s School-wide Improvement Plan for this school year 2018-2019 is aligned to the following CNMI Public School System’s Strategic Priorities: High Student Performance, Highly Qualified and Effective Personnel, and High Performing and High Reliability Systems. At the end of each school year, all GTC staff collaborate to analyze student performance data, determining areas of concerns to be addressed for the next school year. We also held a data dialogue at the beginning of school year 2018-2019 to analyze the 2017-2018 ACT Summative Assessment data. From this collaborative effort, our school staff found and agreed that there was still a need for reading, math, and writing supports for both students and teachers. GTC continues to improve efforts to integrate teacher and student-directed technology to challenge the proficient and above learners as well as help meet the academic needs of struggling or at-risk students.
Additionally, grade-level and program teams collaborate to design instructional activities aligned to the CNMI, NGSS, and Common Core State Standards. Intervention programs such as the Reading Mastery, Child Study Team Intervention, AmeriCorps, and Title One are provided to ensure the success of each child.
Notable Achievements and Areas of Improvement
Amidst the challenges of budget allocations based on student population, GTC Elementary School has consistently demonstrated growth in the ACT Aspire Interim and Summative Assessments, as well as the CNMI Standards Based Assessment (SBA) for the past 3 years. Other accomplishments include active participation in interscholastic sports and academic competitions such as the Academic Challenge Bowl, Science, Island-wide STEM Fair, CCLHS Language Competition, Spelling Bee, Math Court, soccer and dodgeball . Students are also encouraged to engage in community events to promote cultural awareness, volunteerism, and service. Our school has several community partners who support the school through special presentations, donations, and providing competitive opportunities for our students, especially in the area of art.
Significant improvements have been made to address areas found lacking during the self- assessment process. Some of which included having a more active leadership team, implementing a formal data analysis process, and improving collaboration amongst teachers and staff.
During school year 2014-2015, following the turnover of the school administration, the school principal activated the School Leadership Team with the support and training from McRel International focused around the Balanced Leadership Framework. Since then the School Leadership Team has increased its members and capacity to drive continuous improvement efforts.
Our school has also adopted the Data-Driven Decision-Making process introduced to school principals through the technical assistance opportunities provided by consultants from McRel International. Grade-level and program teams utilize the process each quarter after analyzing student performance data. Data-driven action plans are developed, implemented, and monitored by teams to help bridge gaps in student achievement.
For the past four years, GTC has also strengthened its staff collaboration through the scheduling of bi-weekly team meetings. Teams are provided times to meet for collaboration, instructional planning, progress-monitoring, sharing of strategies and resources. Procedures and expectations for team meetings is refined each school year. With the implementation team meetings, our school has become a more purposeful community. All staff understand they are an integral part of a team and that our school functions and is successful because of collective team effort.
Improvements have also been made in our school's infrastructure, and additional technology resources have been added to classrooms. We have also seen growth in our parent involvement.
GTC Elementary continues to strive for student improvement in all academic areas. We have found through our School Quality Factors Diagnostic that there is still improvement needed in the area of parent and community engagement. We will continue to express the need for additional classrooms and teachers to our district and local leaders through our budget proposals.
GTC Elementary School continues to focus on student learning to ensure growth in the core content areas of reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and Chamorro Carolinian Language Heritage Studies (CCLHS). Equally important is our focus on nurturing the "whole child" through social and character development building. We take a proactive approach to learning by embracing the Response to Intervention (RtI) framework in our curricular programs. We are continuously seeking ways to strengthen our parental and community partnerships through programs such as Motheread/Fatheread, parent workshops based on survey results, and allowing outside-agency presentations at PTA meetings.