School of the Week: Pulaski Elementary-Middle School

Where students are climbing the ladder to success one step at a time!

Pulaski Elementary-Middle School’s long-standing mission is to maintain a learning environment that provides every student with the opportunity to achieve their individual potential.

“Success is the number one option for our students,” says Principal Desheil Echols.

Pulaski staff take pride in getting to know each and every one of their students’ individual story. Echols, who credits influential educators that have personally impacted her life for her decision to go into teaching, said she strives to make that same connection with her students.

“For the students, knowing that someone cares and is there will positively impact their educational experience,” said Echols. “We go above and beyond to make sure our students have everything they need to continue to develop into the most successful person they can be.”

Pulaski, which serves students in grades PreK to 8, is a traditional neighborhood school that stresses the importance of academics, as well as behavioral success. Echols strongly believes in celebrating everyone within her school community for their contributions to promote a positive learning environment.

Pulaski is a Bucket Filling School and practices PAWS (Positive Attitudes, Working Successfully) with its students. And, the Pulaski Green Blazers are a true asset to the school – setting the stage for success. Students who wear the green blazers are a part of Pulaski’s Principal Advisory Group, which is open to anyone in the student body and focuses on providing a voice to students. The group meets with Principal Echols weekly to discuss any ideas, concerns or issues students might have and creates solutions that are beneficial for all.

Eighth grader and Principal Advisory member Asia Ellis says the group is great not only because it gives the student body a voice, but also because it’s fun.

“I love to help people, and that’s what we do in the Principal’s Advisory Group,” said Asia.

In addition to the student-focused celebratory programs, Pulaski has an abundance of top-notch offerings that are hard to beat, including double block reading and math classes for all grades, Success For All, media/computer center, library, family nights, 21st Century STEM-based after school programs, summer learning, sports, after-school tutoring, accelerated math and reading programs, science club, mock trial and more!

Sixth-grader Kenneth Long Jr. is the Lead Prosecutor of Pulaski’s Mock Trial Team and credits his sharp attention to details to his participation in the program.

“With mock trial, you have to have good listening and memorization skills and be able to pay close attention when people are talking,” Long said. “The team also teaches you to give everyone a chance to speak.”

Principal Echols strives to provide as many educational programs as possible to her students to create a well-rounded young scholar that is prepared for high school and beyond.

Echols recognizes her School Psychologist Susan Wehrenberg and her exceptional work with students and the Success For All program. Since the implementation of the program, Pulaski has gone from 10% of its students reading at grade level to nearly 70% and increasing.

“I have seen such an improvement with the students and their reading due to the SFA program,” said Wehrenberg. “When students feel more confident in their studies, it positively affects other aspects of their learning success.”

But Pulaski can’t do it alone. The school staff also relies on a team of community members to raise achievement.

An active group of Osborn College Preparatory Academy junior and senior volunteers participate in the “buildOn” program at Pulaski. BuildOn is a service learning program that organizes students in challenging areas to embrace and encourage their communities through local services. The high school volunteers are able to work one-on-one with the elementary-middle school students as part of a reading and mentoring program. Osborn students visit Pulaski once a month for nearly three hours to assist teachers with comprehension and literacy tutoring.

According to Chris Lambert, President of Life Remodeled, a non-profit organization with a mission to remodel lives one neighborhood at a time, the Osborn Campus will become the next stop for the Life Remodeled beautification project.

In a six-day period, Life Remodeled and more than 10,000 volunteers will revamp the Osborn Campus, as well as hundreds of blocks in the surrounding Osborn neighborhood, including Pulaski, to further assist in rebuilding the community as a whole. Life Remodeled will come to Pulaski to rehab the playground, remodel, and mentor the students.

In 2013, Life Remodeled committed to remodeling one DPS school per summer. Starting with the Cody Campus in fall 2014, dozens of partners, volunteers, donors and students helped transform the school campus, as well as the Cody-Rouge community, revealing new classrooms, neighborhood beautification and a brand new football field.

With community connections, paired with Pulaski’s staff and parent involvement, Echols said she is fortunate to have the support of her community to educate the whole child and provide them with the tools needed for a future of success.

Mathematics Teacher Dikea Taylor-Santiago says that at Pulaski everyone works together — just like a family — to make sure that the entire school soars.

“Principal Echols wants us all to succeed,” said Taylor. “It’s good to know at Pulaski everyone has your back.”

Something you didn’t know…

Principal Echols truly believes that mentors matter and says she wouldn’t be the educator she is today without the priceless guidance from Charles Wright Academy’s Principal Kimberly Davis!

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