Pleasant Valley grade school is breaking barriers with its WIN program

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Iowa educators are honoring a Pleasant Valley grade school for its work with Latino students.

Riverdale Heights Elementary School is getting a Breaking Barriers to Teaching and Learning Award for the second straight year.

"We're going to see how well we read," said teacher Jenny Umland.

There's a winning attitude inside her classroom at Riverdale Heights Elementary School.

It's where the "What I Need" program -- they call it  "WIN" -- is helping kids to learn.

"Learning is not a one size fits all model," said principal Jennifer Gertson.

Whether it's reading, math or another subject, kids focus on tasks just for them during the half-hour sessions.

"I get to work with specific students on specific skills," said teacher Erin Ahnquist.  "We can dig deeper."

Now in its third year, the program is forming a strategy for success.

"We get to do activities on the computer," said Brandy Gabriel-Flores, 6.

Activities that are again earning state honors.

Nearly all of the school's Latino students are proficient in reading and math.

The Iowa average is 66%.

Within its student body of over 600 students, there are youngsters that speak 13 different languages.

"We are not going to just help our struggling learners, but to extend learning for all students across the board," said Gertson.

School staffers meet regularly to develop a game plan for each student.

It's like building a road map for achievement.

And getting recognition from Iowa's State Board of Education doesn't hurt.

"I think it motivates us to keep doing what we're doing," said Ahnquist.

One lesson at a time, the school is breaking barriers to education.

"Now it's pushing us to keep working as hard as we can," Ahnquist concluded.

They'll be pushing to keep that winning attitude at Riverdale Heights Elementary School.