Principal, Michelle Asmus
Assistant Principal, Donna Roark


Howard-Ellis Elementary

Building a Foundation for Our Future

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Howard-Ellis Elementary - A Blue Ribbon Exemplary School

 

Howard-Ellis Elementary School is located in the city of Niles, Michigan, in a rural area where family farms and lakeside homes are equally familiar parts of the landscape.  Most of our 706 kindergarten through fifth grade students live within a 45-square mile attendance area, and over 60% of our children qualify for free or reduced meals.  A large number of families have made Howard-Ellis their school of choice; we currently enroll 76 students whose home schools are elsewhere in the district, and 42 who have chosen to attend Howard-Ellis from other districts entirely.

           Howard-Ellis is unique in that it consists of two buildings approximately .3 miles apart: Ellis welcomes kindergarten and first grade students, providing a small, secure setting for beginning learners, and Howard, the larger facility, opens its doors to all second through fifth graders. Our school is also home to three special education classrooms and we take pride in the fact that our special needs students are integrated into the mainstream as much as possible.

            Our collective belief that all students can learn and master essential academic skills is central to our school's mission of providing a quality education for each child.  We are dedicated to promoting positive social, emotional and physical growth in a safe, orderly environment, and we seek to instill in our students a respectful understanding and knowledge of diversity.  With the cooperation and support of parents and community, we work diligently to help all of our students, regardless of ability or disability, succeed.

From daily breakfast served to students by cooks who know them by name to a community volleyball team using our gym for late-night practice, Howard-Ellis bustles with activity from dawn to dusk.  Before the first bell rings, students are at school to practice their fluency skills in reading through Read Naturally and after school, students are participating in popular teacher-led clubs such as Conservation Club and Science Olympiad. Others are in the building to be tutored or to use our Media Center's print or technology resources.  Parents are also welcome throughout the day, and our parent involvement rate of 99.8% is a testimony to the strong and comfortable rapport that exists between stakeholders.  Communication between school and home is constant, facilitated by parent newsletters, Friday folders, daily notes, phone calls, e-mail, school websites, and both formal and informal conferences; opportunities for parents to volunteer are plentiful.

Our dynamic Parent Teacher Organization works to provide students with materials, equipment, and programs that enrich learning, including musical instruments, Apple TV/iPad projectors, subscriptions to children's news magazines, and multicultural assemblies. PTO leads the way in organizing Spirit Weeks, Staff Appreciation in addition to the multiple "fun"draisers such as Hacienda Night, Penny Wars and McTeacher Night.

            Evening events are often so well-attended that our parking lots are filled to capacity; Family Nights featuring a shared meal and our students' written work or fine arts projects are especially enjoyed. The Make It/Take It Celebration is a much-anticipated annual tradition, an evening during which parents and students create holiday crafts for gift giving.

In ways both big and small, the community contributes to our school.  A local dentist offers free dental care, our YMCA provides swimming lessons, the Niles Service League and area Lions Club offer school supplies, clothing and eyeglasses to students in need.   Our school is home to Champs Field, a state-of-the-art baseball complex that was named for boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who has strong ties to the Howard-Ellis community and who financed the project to give our children free access to a quality athletic facility.  The community's generosity is reciprocated as our staff and students strive to help those beyond our school's walls. Service projects have aided St. Jude's Children's Hospital, The Ronald McDonald House at Riley Hospital, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, military troops stationed overseas, and area women's and homeless shelters.  Families in need of assistance know they can rely on our staff to connect them with resources for help, whether that help be required to pay a heating bill or to locate childcare or counseling.

        Teachers and principals continuously review data from DIBELS, NWEA and MEAP tests, as well as from formal and informal classroom assessments, to adjust curriculum and instruction to meet children's needs.  Data Team Leaders make up our School Data Team and  meet regularly to discuss goals and instructional strategies in all content areas. The district is in its second year of implementation of Collins Writing where students are writing daily across the curriculum.  To strengthen their own educational practices, over half of our staff members dedicate their own time to participate in Critical Friends Groups or Professional Learning Communities.  Howard-Ellis' positive and safe school culture is shaped by our Formula 4 Success (Atmosphere + Attitude + Appropriate Behavior = Achievement).  Students who exhibit these behaviors are recognized with Viking Shout Outs daily.

We take pride in the fact that our school's MEAP scores have been consistently above the state average in English Language Arts, Math and Science.  As our curriculum becomes more tightly aligned with state standards and benchmarks, our students' performance improves.  Our school's "A" rating by Education,Yes! since 2006 is another testimony to our dedication to educational excellence.
Our school's vision is well-articulated in the message on the welcome mat at our school's front entrance, reading, "Howard-Ellis School: Building the Future One Student at a Time".  Our staff's commitment to creating lifelong learners who are also caring citizens is exemplified in our relationships with one another, in our curriculum and programs which strive to meet individual needs, and in our high expectations for academics and behavior.  While the welcome mat may be muddied at times with children's busy footprints, our mission itself remains clear and focused.