1st and 2nd grade classes combined at 2 elementary schools | CraigDailyPress.com

1st and 2nd grade classes combined at 2 elementary schools

Jazmin Martinez and Zachariah Roberts, both students in Alisha Brown's multi-grade class at East Elementary School in Craig, enjoy individual reading time.

— New multi-grade level classes are off to a good start at two Moffat County Elementary schools.

"It's going great," said multi-level teacher Alisha Brown, who teaches one of the three combined first and second grade classes at East Elementary. "The kids are really open to it. We've focused on community building. It's not about grade level."

Declining enrollment in elementary schools across Moffat County School District resulted in the decision made by the School Board, when they passed the budget in June, to cut two teachers.

"As a district we were charged with how to reduce the number of teachers," said Sarah Hepworth, principal at East Elementary school. "We met as elementary schools and went through three days of scenarios on how to reduce teachers."

The team settled on combining first and second grade classes at both Sandrock and East Elementary schools.

A multi-grade classroom, according to a fact sheet provided by the school district to parents, is a class "that includes students from two or more consecutive grades who work in one classroom setting."

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This is different from a multi-age school like the Maybell Elementary School, but is not unusual.

"Multi-grade classrooms are not a new thing," said Kamisha Siminoe, principal at Sandrock Elementary School. "It is not novel. We are not creating something that is brand new."

Teachers that used to teach only one grade level are being provided with additional resources including extra time to collaborate and help each other to identify ways to target learning strategies to individual student needs.

"We are really aiming to meet every students' needs. No one is being left behind and everyone is being challenged," Brown said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.