by Matthew Rice
A major change is coming to the lower grades in the Granville School District in the fall.
In a move related to being on the state’s Schools In Need of Improvement list, Granville Elementary School Principal Diane Dumas will take over for Kristie Gijanto, who announced her coming retirement as principal at Mary J. Tanner School earlier this month. When Dumas arrived at MJT, she will bring the third-grade classes with her.
“It’s a real win for our kids,” said Superintendent Mark Bessen. “She’s going to do a nice job.”
The first set of major state tests take place in third grade, and administrators say the student’s literacy skills are very important for those tests.
Dumas, who taught for 15 years in the primary school grades before becoming an administrator, has a lot of experience with early literacy education which the district will put to use. Dumas said he would be using her skills in early literacy to help “build the foundation” for later learning. The focus will be to increase literacy throughout the district.
“I’ll be moving to Mary J. Tanner and taking the third grade with me,” Dumas said.
Dumas said the idea of moving the third grade back to Tanner, where it briefly resided during the EXCEL building project, comes from the idea the school’s focus will be on teaching literacy.
In a perfect world, Dumas said, third graders would spend half of that school year at Mary J. Tanner before moving to Quaker Street as they make the transition from learning to read to using what they have absorbed to learn more. “Students are reading to learn at Quaker Street while at Mary J. they are learning to read so after several conversations we decided the third grade fits there (Tanner) better,” Dumas said.
Bessen said the move will allow efforts with literacy to continue uninterrupted while the district begins the process of seeking a new principal for Granville Elementary, to be on board before September.
“We had someone in house who we know is an expert and we’re using her to the best of her talents,” Bessen said.
Dumas said she had taught in grades one, two and five for 15 years before moving into administration so she not only knew what she was getting into, she was looking forward to working with younger students again.
“I’m really excited, it will be a nice change for me,” she said. “I certainly know what the kids will have to be prepared for,” Dumas said.
The idea is to conduct the search for a new principal for the elementary school and have that administrator in place for the start of the next school year. This move will allow Dumas some time with her replacement to help the new principal get settled, Bessen said.