BAY MINETTE — Off the beaten path in Bay Minette sits Delta Elementary School. Founded in 1991, the school currently has 210 students enrolled, though it has gone as high as 290 in the …
BAY MINETTE — Off the beaten path in Bay Minette sits Delta Elementary School. Founded in 1991, the school currently has 210 students enrolled, though it has gone as high as 290 in the past.
"Our students are like siblings, because they're in two classes typically in kindergarten and first grade, sometimes second, but then third grade and up they're typically in one class," Principal Keri Shofner said. "We don't have a clerk; our bookkeeper and our registrar serve in that capacity as well."
Being a small school offers challenges and rewards, Shofner said. Read on to learn four things that make Delta Elementary shine.
"Delta actually had the highest proficiency rate on the third-grade reading," Shofner said. "We are very proud of that because our students and teachers have worked very hard. And it's not just the third-grade teacher, although she's phenomenal, it's also all of the teachers who had the students before, so that's a huge shoutout to our community, to our teachers and the work that is going in."
While the school was doing Leader In Me the "Delta way," Shofner said, the program was implemented last school year thanks to support from the school district.
Prior to Leader In Me coming to Delta, Shofner said the school began doing Success Day instead of Awards Day, allowing students to present their goals and successes.
"We were trying to help kids look to the future and realize you can't just set a goal, but to try to show them there are steps to get there," Shofner said.
2) Everyone plays a part
Being a small school, everyone finds ways to support one another, Shofner said.
"There are no small jobs, everybody has to pull their weight," she said. "Nobody can do this alone. Everything we do requires everybody's cooperation and partnership for anything to get done and be successful, so we're always trying to make it fun while keeping it educational."
Shofner said when the school's custodian came on board, at first, he wasn't interested in forming a club. Just last year, he approached Shofner to ask if a group of students could help put up the flag each day.
"You can't stay here and not get caught up in realizing that you are important to these kids, and you're missed when you're not here," Shofner said. "It's just a neat place to be."
3) Community support
The community also plays a huge part in the school's culture. Last year, the community was invited on campus for multiple open houses, family nights, hands-on activities and science nights. Food trucks were brought on campus for the events, allowing the events to become full family nights.
"It was just one of those things that kind of helped in multiple ways and allowed people to see each other in a different light," Shofner said. "It brought people in."
During the school year, events such as The Polar Express, the annual Christmas talent-show and a Family Picnic Day allow the school and the community to come together to support the students.
4) Local celebrities
One of the unique features of being a smaller school in a smaller community is constantly running into students and parents everywhere you go.
"My husband always jokes that I'm a local celebrity, because when we go anywhere, to a football game or just to Walmart, it's always, 'Hey Mrs. Holly, hey Mrs. Holly,' and I get these hugs and my husband just laughs," Holly Mixon, registrar, said.
Shofner said it can be hard on the students when they leave to larger schools since they don't know many people outside of Delta unless they go play sports in town. However, she and her staff do what they can to prepare the students for this change and let them know that if they ever need their Delta family, they'll be there for them.
"The kids don't run and hide when they see us out, they're going to come and say hello," she said. "We get these students from four until they leave us after sixth grade, so they will never be at another school longer than here, and we take that very seriously."