Confluence Success Stories, Part III – National Charter Schools Week 2014
Confluence Success Stories, Part III – National Charter Schools Week 2014
Posted on 05/09/2014
logoA Little Bit goes a long way at Confluence Academy-Old North
Confluence Academy-Old North has many community partners, yet one stands out for their direct impact on students – The Little Bit Foundation.

Little Bit’s website explains the mission. “We are committed to helping disadvantaged school children by creating a positive impact for personal growth, increasing self-esteem and encouraging a more focused and active learning environment. We do this by building strong relationships and partnering closely with St. Louis schools.”

Old North is one of 16 schools in the City of St. Louis partnered with Little Bit. More than 4,300 elementary and middle school students are served by the foundation. Little Bit was founded in 2001 out of a small request from a teacher in an inner-city school. Ninety to 100 percent of students in the schools partnered with Little Bit are at or near the poverty level.

Little Bit ON“The Little Bit organization is a great asset to Confluence Academy-Old North. They assist in building our students’ self-esteem by providing clean clothes and shoes, which in turn, removes distractions that keep children from learning,” said Sonya Murray, principal.

Old North has benefited from the organization through donations of hats and gloves, an in-school boutique with clothes, socks and underwear, personal hygiene kits and books. The school also has a washer and dryer from Little Bit.

“Their efforts provide students in need with food and supplies as well. The volunteers and workers are always positive and welcoming. They go above and beyond to ensure that every order is accurate, and they display an abundance of compassion which is a core value our Confluence family entrusts,” said Murray. “We look forward to a continuous partnership with The Little Bit Foundation.”



First Grade Math – Confluence Academy-Walnut Park
Students learn the foundation for understanding math in first grade. At Confluence Academy-Walnut Park, first-grade students are enhancing their knowledge with supplemental materials for Singapore Mathematics.

The Singapore Math materials are part of an idea to influence student achievement. In fall 2013, Confluence Charter Schools launched a pilot program called the Mastery Project. Mastery projects are part of an incentive program for teachers and staff. They are led by an individual person or team, but the overall purpose is to influence student achievement.

Peggy Romer, first grade teacher at Walnut Park, shares how Singapore Student Textbooks are making a difference in geometry.

WP 1st gr math“In Unit 7, a geometry unit, the textbooks have been especially helpful in focusing student attention to the correct geometrical object because unlike the workbooks, the textbooks are printed in color. The colored objects in the textbook help with clarity when directing the class to observe the largest triangle,” said Romer.

“This is especially important when students are just beginning to correlate the words ‘largest’ and ‘triangle’ with a two-dimensional, trilateral shape of greater size than the other two-dimensional triangles, squares, rectangles and circles that are on the same page.”

Romer said that student engagement is rising, and “several first grade teachers are saying they’ve observed students point out something in the textbook to a classmate with a smiling face and an animated mathematical conversation.”

The goal of the mastery project for first grade math is higher student engagement and academic success. It looks like students are heading in the right direction.


Sibling Tutoring Teams – Confluence Academy-South City
How do you help a kindergartner improve his reading skills when English isn’t his first language?

That’s the question that staff at Confluence Academy-South City face often.

“Our challenge is to empower these students with a command of the English language that will lead them to be fluent readers and writers,” said Jan Antrim, instructional coach/Title I.

“Typically, we look to parents for help to give students an extra boost. For our English Language Learners, this option is not readily available to them.”

To address the challenge, Antrim and Landon Wood, ELL/ESOL teacher, developed the idea of sibling tutoring teams. The idea is a mastery project. In fall 2013, Confluence Charter Schools launched a pilot program called the Mastery Project. Mastery projects are part of an incentive program for teachers and staff. They are led by an individual person or team, but the overall purpose is to influence student achievement.

SC ELLThe point of the tutoring teams is simple – teach an older sibling or cousin to act as a tutor for the kindergartner. By providing materials to use at home, the children work together each night.

“Providing additional reading skills practice at home will help students perform better and with more confidence in the classroom. In turn, students will score higher on assessments,” said Antrim.

To date, five teams are participating.

“Some students are showing more success than others. It’s easy to see the difference. The teams whose parents are doing their part and monitoring the teams are learning new words and skills faster. And the teams who return materials on time are also the same children who are learning to become better readers,” said Antrim.

“Where we see success, students are learning 5 to 10 new sight words each week, and in small groups, students are more active participants since they are better able to respond correctly.”

“I haven’t been directly asked about the performance of these students in the classroom, but there have been conversations where teachers have remarked that the tutor team kindergartner is learning more words and is more attentive and participates more in class,” said Antrim.

“I don’t know that the extra practice at home is directly responsible, but I do think it has contributed.”