Rydal Elementary School, located in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, is one of seven elementary schools in the Abington School District. Two separate buildings house the approximately 590 Rydal students. Kindergarten and grade one children attend Rydal West. Grades two through six are at Rydal East. Though our students have various cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds, the common denominator is their high academic achievement. In the last five years, Rydal’s reading and mathematics test scores have been consistently in the top ten on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.
A closer examination of our student population reveals that approximately one-fourth of our children receive gifted support or special education services. At the elementary level, Rydal has the largest percentage of ESOL students of all Abington schools. This diversity enhances the life experiences of our community of learners, yet also creates our greatest challenge. On a daily basis, we strive to provide equal opportunity for all of our students to attain academic success. Our vision of “individual excellence” guides all curricular and instructional decisions. It has also led to a strong collaboration among faculty, our families and the community.
Rydal School has dedicated itself to meeting the needs of its entire school population. We provide a continuum of regular education support including Early Intervention in Reading, English to Speakers of Other Languages, Math Assistance Program, Math Enrichment, and Accelerated Reader. Rydal’s curriculum specialist, reading consultant and teacher of the gifted provide remediation and enrichment services. Abington’s Program of Excellence serves our mentally gifted students. Itinerant, resource room and part-time services are provided to students needing learning, autistic or life skills support. Our full-time psychologist offers school-based individual and group counseling.
Rydal’s curriculum is aligned with the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s standards in communication arts and mathematics as well as national standards in social studies and science. A myriad of activities supports our curricula. Students participate in Bibliomania, Dr. Seuss Day and the African-American Read-In. Our Publishing Center, sponsored by our PTO and staffed by volunteers, augments our communication arts program. Working in our school store and organizing community service projects bring math alive to our children. Supplementing our social studies program are the award-winning Holocaust and African-American curricula. Unique to Rydal is our S.U.N. (Students Understanding Nature) Center funded by our PTO. Through the efforts of many dedicated parents and teachers we maintain a greenhouse, bird blind, wildflower garden and an outdoor classroom. The PTO also sponsors a naturalist from the Briar Bush Nature Center who provides weekly lessons on such topics as insects, wildlife, ecosystems and weather.
Technology plays a significant role in supporting the curriculum. Both Rydal East and West are wired for voice and data technology. School libraries and computer labs at East and West, all classrooms and offices are connected to our computer network. Each classroom has a computer station which enables classroom teachers to access the network and the Internet. In addition, the integration of technology has vastly improved management efficiency.
Rydal School is also a fun place to learn. Students enthusiastically participate in our band, chorus, Spanish Club, Student Council, Odyssey of the Mind, Chess Club and a variety of sports. Spirit days encourage students to dress backwards, wear crazy hats and support local teams. Our “yellow brick road”, painted by teachers and children, connects Rydal East to Rydal West. Staff members sponsor clubs and sports to make connections with students outside of the classroom.
Providing a safe learning environment is of paramount concern to the Rydal community. School personnel have created emergency management and critical incident plans. The Abington Township Police Department provides the school with a D.A.R.E. officer and an “adopted cop”. The Citizens and Police Together (C.A.P.T.) grants bring together law enforcement, community members and students to provide outreach activities to families and senior citizens. The success of our prevention activities, developed in cooperation with Aldersgate Youth Service Bureau and the Abington Memorial Hospital, have led to a drug-free environment at Rydal.
While those on the outside may look at Rydal’s outstanding performance on standardized tests and other measures of student achievement as our greatest strength, we know better. Our greatest strength, and that of which we are most proud, is our people and the spirit of family that exists within our school and community. We are bound together by the single purpose of promoting excellence through collaboration, support, caring and the best instructional practices available. Clearly, Rydal Elementary School is a special place to learn and a special place to grow.