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 620 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 ELL 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 and Math Enrichment. Rydal’s curriculum specialist, reading consultant and teachers of the gifted provide remediation and enrichment services. 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 Reading Olympics, Read Across America Week, and the African-American Read-In. Supplementing our social studies program are the award-winning Holocaust and African-American curricula. Through the efforts of many dedicated parents and teachers we maintain a garden, 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 have Chromebook carts available to all grade levels to support classroom learning. Library lessons are dedicated to internet safety, research strategies and the use of primary and middle school databases to enrich the students’ science and social studies units.
Rydal Students enthusiastically participate in our band, chorus, Science Club, Student Council, Odyssey of the Mind, Robotics Club, Book Club, and a variety of sports such as hockey and basketball, and the very popular Girls on the Run. Spirit days encourage students and teachers to dress backwards, wear crazy hats, pajamas, or favorite sport team apparel. We’ve incorporated special days to raise awareness for children with disabilities or families struggling with other health or social concerns. Staff members collaborate with high school teams to mentor our students and make connections with them outside of the academic 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 Olweus Program, supported by dedicated staff and parents alike, is a key component in supporting our classrooms in an effort to recognize and eradicate bullying from our school, in order to make Rydal a safer learning environment.
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.