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Styles reflects on 2013, looks to 2014 at Mill Creek

Student involvement in groups, like these chorus members, is important, Mill Creek Principal Dr. Claudia Styles said. (CONTRIBUTED)
Student involvement in groups, like these chorus members, is important, Mill Creek Principal Dr. Claudia Styles said. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Dr. Claudia Styles, principal at Mill Creek Elementary School, plans to build on work in 2013 for a progressive 2014.

After accepting the principal position in September, Styles has “enjoyed every minute. Students have really impressed me,” Styles said. “They’re very respectful, courteous and seem to really soak up the learning.”

Styles is pleased with diverse clubs at Mill Creek. “I’m a strong advocate of student-initiated clubs that foster social skills development,” she said.

New clubs at Mill Creek include Just for Girls Club for third- and fourth-graders, Sonic Club for fifth-graders and Junior Leaders Team for fifth- and sixth-graders. Archery and computer science teams will organize soon.

Mill Creek also has groups for the performing arts, character building like Peer Helpers, robotics, running and chess. Involving students in elementary grades is “one of the best ways to prepare our students with some challenges they’ll face in middle school,” Styles said.

This year, Mill Creek will focus on STAR Data, which provides “teachers with specific target areas for individual students to establish small-group instruction,” Styles said. Teachers are encouraged to “meet students where they are.”

Styles praised Mill Creek’s parent volunteer base. Mill Creek PTA led the “Maverick Mile” to raise more than $37,000. Fathers enthusiastically responded to organizing Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students).

As principal, Styles observed areas for improvement. Even with good technological tools, “retrieval of information through our wireless access points was weak and presented problems,” she said.

Styles contacted the Central Office staff, who “immediately followed up. We’re now on our way to increased band width and additional access points.” Also, another computer lab will open in 2014.

Some of America’s most advanced science-related programs — Cummings Research Park, NASA and Redstone Arsenal — “are sitting right in our back yard,” Styles said. She will “embrace these corporations” for connections between the classroom and job-place.

One parent in information technology told students how computer programming applies to math and science. “This is what it’s all about,” Styles said.

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