Three grades at Medora Junior-Senior High School will have a drug prevention education program integrated into their health class in the 2017-18 school year, and students also will benefit from an after-school program.

Teachers will receive professional development in creating assessments, and elementary teachers will be able prepare for the conversion to all multi-age classrooms.

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These opportunities are being made possible through Medora Community School Corp. receiving a pair of $45,000 grants from the Indiana Department of Education.

The 1003(a) Tier II School Improvement Grant is intended to help support schools in the areas of educator retention, increased learning opportunities, family and community involvement, early learning initiatives and student supports.

The grant opportunity is offered to Title I-served focus and priority schools, and they are eligible to apply for $45,000. The grant funds must be expended by Sept. 30.

With the drug prevention education program, seventh-, eighth- and 10th-graders will be learning from the “Be Your Best You” program in health class.

“We know that drugs are a nationwide epidemic,” Medora Principal Austin Absher said. “If we can provide our students with as much information as possible to ensure they have the resources to make informed life decisions, hopefully, we can arm them with the necessary tools to avoid becoming another statistic.”

An after-school program also will be offered three times a week for 12 weeks in which students will focus on self-awareness, life skills, character development and personal goal setting.

“The program is still being developed, but we also foresee there being a family program, a mentoring program as well as community intervention and recovery support,” Absher said. “We know that involving as many stakeholders as possible will help this program be a success.”

The professional development regarding creating assessments will be two days in July. Led by Michael Langevin of Equitable Education Solutions, the training will be open to all junior-senior high school teachers with a stipend attached for attendance.

“Teachers will be working to create assessments that are aligned to the curriculum maps that they created this year,” Absher said. “The assessments will help gauge student performance on power standards.”

For two days in June, Absher and the elementary teachers will work with Tammy Miller from Equitable Education Solutions focusing primarily on multi-age classrooms.

Absher and Superintendent Roger Bane recently conducted a meeting to educate the public on multi-age classrooms and how they would work at Medora.

If the board of trustees passes the second reading at its next meeting, set for 6 p.m. May 8 in the school library, there will be four elementary classrooms next school year — preschool and kindergarten, first and second grades, third and fourth grades and fifth and sixth grades. Each classroom will have a teacher and a full-time aide.

This school year, the first and second grades were combined into one classroom as part of the changes implemented by the school corporation because of a decline in enrollment and a general fund budget deficit.

Absher said the support from Equitable Education Solutions would continue throughout the duration of the 2017-18 school year.

The professional development also will help teachers gain a new method for interacting with student data, Absher said.

“We will be creating a data room in which every individual student will be represented,” she said. “This will allow for teachers to have a more holistic view into every student’s needs, strengths and abilities. We know that so much of students’ academic abilities are linked to the classroom teacher. If we can support our teachers and help develop their skill set, our students will directly benefit from this new knowledge.”

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.