Riverdale Heights Elem. honored for “breaking education barriers”


BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) – A Pleasant Valley school is being honored for eliminating “achievement gaps”.

The award recognizes schools that “break through” education barriers, like students who come from low-income backgrounds or whose first language isn’t English.

It’s the second year in a row Riverdale Heights Elementary School has won the award from the Iowa State Board of Education.

The school is specifically being recognized for their work with Latino students, but teachers at the school said they apply the same strategy for all students making sure their individual needs are met and they succeed in the classroom.

“WIN Time,” which stands for “What I Need” is part of the teaching strategy that’s made students at the school some of the highest achieving in math and reading, state-wide.

During this time teachers can work with students one-on-one.

ESL teacher Liza Peters said teamwork is what makes their students successful.

“It’s because of the shared responsibility that all the teachers have in our school to educate all children equally,” she said.

In Iowa, Latino students average a 63% proficiency in math and reading. At Riverdale Heights, Latino students are 93% proficient.

“We don’t lower the bar for any student,” said principal Jennifer Gertson. “We don’t say, just because this is historical data or this is what has impacted that community that we set that bar that way. We have the same bar for every kid and we want them to be able to achieve that.”

Teachers are always collaborating, a key part in their student’s success. They track students’ progress using multiple streams of data from test scores and classroom activities.

“Looking at students who are struggling and really being specific and purposeful with the kinds of instruction that each kid needs,” said instructional coach Liz Bornhoeft.

“Things get better and better than the last day,” said 1st grader Brandy Gabriel-Flores.

She said she likes to tell her parents about school, each day. She’s a 6-year-old who loves learning to read.

“I tell them I had a great day on reading and being with my teacher,” she said.

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