Tucked back within a well-established neighborhood, bordered on three sides by homes and just south of the Central Avenue/Hamstrom Road intersection, sits a building that has been part of the foundation in the young men and women of Portage.
Kyle Elementary built in 1967 and named for Rowena Kyle, a teacher and counselor, has long been a part of the Portage tradition. In existence for nearly 50 years Kyle Elementary has seen several generations of families pass through its doors and hallways as well as new families who have moved to the area and called Portage and Kyle Elementary home. Kyle has been a long standing symbol of education, family, and pride in this close knit community, something of which our staff is aware of and plans to continue.
How do we continue that legacy? That can be found in the Mission and Belief of those people who occupy that building for some 180 plus days a year. For not quite as long as the building itself has been around, but for some time now Kyle Elementary has preached that “Kyle Kids Can!” I must admit for those of you that do not know, I am a Kyle transplant. Though I have been a part of the Portage Township Schools for over ten years, this is my first year at Kyle. However, I have been well aware of the phrase “Kyle Kids Can!” I have seen it many times on the shirts of Kyle staff and students.
But what does this belief mean? Our belief that “Kyle Kids Can” defines our school culture. It means we set high expectations for ours students and create a pathway for them to not only reach it, but often to exceed it. We believe in setting goals and challenging our students. For instance our school set a goal for the number of words our students will read this trimester. Currently our school wide goal for the first twelve weeks is set at 25,700,000 words. This is quite a lofty goal. However in just three short weeks our students have already reached nearly a quarter of that goal with over 6,000,000 words already.
Does that mean our students reach their goals naturally and with ease? Not quite. That is exactly why we believe they can.
If we do not push ourselves or our students we remain stagnant and our growth is limited. Rather we set those high goals and expectations and challenge our students to meet them. In education you must continually be focused on improvement or you and your students will fall behind. Therefore, as a staff we are continually focusing on our strengths and weaknesses.
We solidify our strengths and bolster our weaknesses, all the while insisting that “Kyle Kids Can!” It is our continued mission that our students will continue this long standing tradition of pride in the Kyle community and though I am new to the building it is one of my priorities.
Mike Sopko is principal at Kyle Elementary school, Portage.