Written by Mentone Elementary School Principal Randy Dahms

As a principal, when I think about education today, I find myself looking at our current students and asking myself, “How do we best prepare our students to be successful in the ever changing world that they are going to live in?”  I suppose that education is like any other industry where there are current fads and trends.  In today’s world, it is critical for an organization to be able to step back and assess new ideas while at the same time, stay true to the values of what our school system believes in.  Tippecanoe Valley’s Vision Statement reads, “Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation does whatever it takes to equip all students to be outstanding today, tomorrow, and beyond.”  So what actions need to be taken to reach that admirable vision?

At Mentone Elementary, I am encouraged on a consistent basis to see our staff and the Mentone community reaching out and working tirelessly to form a positive culture. It’s typical around Mentone to see a staff member who is taking time out of their day to eat lunch with a student or to go out of their way to encourage them in some way.  Sometimes, I see our full-time school counselor reaching out and teaching classes along with frequently meeting with individual students throughout the day.  Our community plays a big role, as well.  Midwest Spring, a local business in Mentone that is owned by CJ Overmyer, has worked with us to form a partnership. Some of his workers come to the school with the goal of encouraging the students they are mentoring.   The Mentone Lions Club recently made a donation of funds to provide students with school supplies during this second semester.  Our local parent support group consistently comes in to help whenever there is a need.  Sometimes I see students encouraging each other during Family Groups when our fifth grade students are leading their younger peers in a monthly activity as we build a positive culture within our student body.

At Mentone Elementary it’s nice to see student growth and academic success.  This last school year, Mentone was an awarded an A by the Indiana Department of Education.  People can argue about the validity of these assessments, but as a principal, what I am most proud of is seeing the Professional Learning Community culture take hold at Mentone as we consistently look at individual student results/data over concepts that are essential to the grade level.  As a principal, it’s nice to see student growth on a day-to-day basis, and it is validating when your hard working staff is recognized for their efforts.

Mentone Elementary is the host site of two kindergarten readiness classes taught by certified teachers, the Little Vikings Developmental Preschool for young children with special needs, and a Head Start classroom that has been at Mentone for several years.  All of these programs exist to give our students the best start possible going into their kindergarten year.  The leadership of our school system has shown their commitment to meeting a local need in our community for children to receive a high quality preschool experience.  Numerous clubs and opportunities exist for students to participate in throughout the school year.

Though things in society may change, I believe there are principles that will stand the test of time such as commitment to excellence, building relationships, and refining practice to meet student needs.  These are pillars that Mentone Elementary will carry forward to meet our school system’s vision, “To do whatever it takes to equip all students to be outstanding today, tomorrow, and beyond.”

Valley Insight is a recurring monthly article written by administrators on a variety of topics related to education and the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation. Articles will be posted to the district’s website and also shared with the local media.