The mission of the Elementary Education Program is to assist students and educators in the learning and teaching process. At all grade levels, the curriculum in English/language arts, mathematics, social studies, physical education, health, music, art, guidance, technology, and media skills follows the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.
Elementary educators teach all students on their instructional levels and each child should be reading on grade level by the end of second grade. Instructional coaches, Jennifer Putnam, Sarah Temple, Charles Williams, Denise Wright, and Kristie Compton give classroom demonstrations and make follow-up visits for teachers. In addition, class-size reduction is a critical component of the elementary program. Smaller classes, with ratio of eighteen students to each teacher, allow for one-on-one assistance and student-centered activities. All students in the first, second, and third grades have this opportunity. Attention is given to identifying and responding to individual student needs, teaching with positive classroom management, and building on student strengths. Each student in the first through third grades has a reading, math, and writing portfolio.
Also, the elementary program holds workshops for educators on the use of strategic questioning, literature circles, assessment, phonemic awareness, and instructional groupings. Additional sessions include the use of math manipulatives, problem-solving, and math strategies. Reading in the content areas of health, science, and social studies is emphasized. Staff development for all elementary teachers has evolved into literacy development, problem solving, integration of the curriculum, and teaching to individual learning styles. As a result, Burke County teachers have developed specific grade level reading strategies, essential performance indicators for all grades, and assessment aligned to the curriculum.