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Kindergarten students at Deerfield count groups of 10 to make 100 as they celebrate the 100th day of school. Shown from left, Hana Kisgen, Makenna Moreland, Azlynn Garringer, Draiden Davis, Slade Davis, Lydia Bradburn, Oliver Huffman, Ella Harris, Gage Miller, and Jenson Manning.

Deerfield Elementary School, a member of the Randolph Central School Corporation, has earned an A letter grade from the Indiana Department of Education seven of the last eight years (eight years that, incidentally, saw much change and upheaval in the scoring and rating process). This year, Deerfield was recognized by IDOE as a 2018-2019 Title I Distinguished School Award nominee, making it one of the top eight exceptionally performing Title I schools in Indiana. Deerfield also earned an Exceeds Expectations rating according to the Federal School Accountability System. Only five percent of elementary and middle schools in Indiana achieved this rating.

“We place a high value on relationships – relationships with our students, families, and each other,” said Deerfield Principal Laura Kile. “We believe in each other and in our students. We believe all students can grow and we all do our best to help them do so. I truly believe it’s the power of these core values over time that have helped build the Deerfield tradition of success.

“We have a long-standing tradition of academic success. People here at the school value the idea of helping our students to grow and improve.”

Kile attributed the school’s continued high level of success to its healthy relationships with students, amongst staff and with the community. That healthy climate makes a real difference over time, she said.

“Kids can’t thrive when they don’t know what to expect from their teachers,” she said. “That connection with kids and their families really makes a difference. We keep our energy focused over a long period of time. It’s not something flashy, it’s not something that you go buy off a shelf – it’s truly investing in the people who are here every day.

“We offer literacy groups to our students at every grade level. For 30 minutes every day, kids are in extra small group reading lessons to promote literacy – that’s something that has not changed in the nearly 20 years that I have been working with this school.”

She said that besides establishing a dependable routine and staying true to what works, the school has embraced new initiatives that come its way, working them into that routine rather than discarding tradition for the latest promising approach.

“We keep our eyes on those values and practices that have proven to be successful for us over time,” Kile said. “We stay true to those traditions as we continue to grow and stretch ourselves with changes in our approach. As our state and federal assessments and accountability measures have changed, our students and staff have continued to realize success. As we take on local initiatives such as our one-to-one implementation of Chromebooks (providing a personal computer for each student) and the establishment of RC PRIDE, we build upon the foundation of what has been proven to help our students learn.

“We keep building relationships with the local school community, finding new ways to provide services and opportunities for students.”

Kile has been with the Randolph Central School System for 19 years, 16 of those with Deerfield. She greatly values the relations ships she’s formed with people in the community over that time.

“I feel like part of an extended family,” she said. “It’s an honor to work every day to find ways to help students learn and thrive. I appreciate the look on a child’s face when they grasp something you’re helping them learn. It’s also about watching them grow up and become responsible adults in our community. That’s the most rewarding parts of the job.

“The most powerful thing we do for our kids is to build authentic relationships with them. Kids can’t learn when they don’t think we care about them. They spend a lot of time here, they need to know that we value them and care about who they are. Parents need to know that we genuinely love and care about their kids and what’s best for them. We’re on the same team, doing the work of helping them to raise kids.

“We place a high value on relationships. We believe in each other. We keep our eyes on what do our kids need and how can we make that happen for them.

“The letter grade is evidence that what we’re doing is working. It feels validating – and then we get back to work. We celebrate it and then we resume our work.”

Kile said that as she looks ahead to the coming year, she is excited to announce Deerfield is planning to collaborate with the Greater Randolph Interlocal Cooperative (GRIC) to offer preschool at Deerfield starting with the 2020-2021 school year.  

“It will be a collaboration with GRIC to offer preschool here at Deerfield,” she said. “Our hope is that it will provide an opportunity for our kids to attend preschool closer to where they live and to make it more convenient for parents.”

Prospective students would enroll through GRIC.