DVIDS – News – Price Elementary School: a valuable part of Yuma Proving Ground

As you walk up to James D. Price Elementary School located on US Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG), the small elementary school takes you back to simpler times.

The five-classroom school was built in 1954 and looks nothing like the more modern schools within Yuma School District One (YSD1).

Yet, inside those classrooms a handful of educators are teaching the children of soldiers and civilians in a small classroom setting you don’t see anywhere else in the district.

It’s the small class sizes that first appealed to Aide Estrada, who was on the brink of quitting her teaching career exhausted with large classroom sizes. Most YSD1 classrooms are made up of about 30 students. At Price, the class sizes are between 15-20 students. Her current kindergarten class has 11 students.

“As a teacher you love it because you have undivided attention for each student. You can ask me anything about my kiddos and I can tell you where they are at academically.”

The average enrollment at Price is between 70 and 75 students. The elementary school utilizes combo classes: combining students in first and second, second and third, and fourth and fifth grades. The mixed grades add a layer of difficulty for the teachers, yet the small class sizes help.

Price School Principal Jarrod Norris, who is also the Assistant Principal at Desert Mesa Elementary School, explains the challenge.

“A combo class can be extremely challenging but is more manageable with our small class sizes. It allows the teacher to personalize the instruction.”

He adds, “They can do one on one instruction, very small group instruction, differentiated learning where students are learning together.”

Yet the level of education is not compromised and is on par with other schools in the district. In fact, three third graders at Price had perfect scores on the state math test, joining 33 other third and fourth graders district wide with that achievement. All of Price’s teachers are highly qualified and state certified.

Having a more manageable school population allows Norris the opportunity to engage more.

“I make it a point to go into every classroom every week, even if it’s just a few minutes, to see the students at recess, lunch, and greet them before and after school and make myself available to families.”

Because Price is uniquely located on the YPG installation, Norris and Price students can also count on the support of YPG leadership. It’s not uncommon for YPG’s leadership to be present on the first day of school.

Norris shares that YPG leaders helped him through his first school year post-COVID quarantine. They were also instrumental in helping bring school lunches to Price.

Talking about YPG Commander Col. Patrick McFall and Command Sgt. Major Herbert Gill, Norris said, “They helped us think outside of the box of what were the obstacles to bringing meals here and how we could address them and remove the obstacles, and we did.”

Hot school lunches are now provided at Price and were also provided during the pandemic as grab and go, something that was not possible in the past because there is no cafeteria on site. Getting school lunches to the students at Price was a monumental collaboration between YPG leaders, Price’s administrative secretary Stacie Oliver, YSD1 Child Nutrition Services, and the Castle Dome Middle School and Desert Mesa Elementary School cafeteria staffs who cook the meals.

In the next few years, not having a cafeteria will be a thing of the past. Price is slated to have a new school built, equipped with an attached library, cafeteria, kitchen, and kitchen staff to prepare meals.

Early this year the school received fiber wire for better internet connectivity, and the Parent Teacher Organization is starting up. There are bright things in store for the students at Price and the YPG community who values ​​its services.

Estrada plans to be around for it all.

“I love my job. This is where I am retiring. I’m not going anywhere.”

Date Taken: 09.28.2022
Date Posted: 09.28.2022 17:33
StoryID: 430250
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