The Royal Palm Beach Education Advisory Board enjoyed more than just a presentation from Tracy Ghettie, Principal of Royal Palm Beach Elementary School on Monday, November 14th. The Bobcat Ringers bells also gave a beautiful rendition of the national anthem.
Ghettie first introduced her school’s first Dwyer Award-winning teacher, Katherine Kovalsky, the music teacher at the RPBHS. “When it was announced you would have thought we were at a rock concert,” Ghettie said of the cheers and shouts that came in celebration of the success.
Kovalsky then performed with 10 students who were ready to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner,” one of three pieces they shared at a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 15. At this event, the Bobcat Ringers also performed “Aura Lee” and “America the Beautiful.” Between songs, the students switch positions so they can play different bells—both high and low.
“One of the things that makes Royal Palm Beach Elementary very special is that a lot of us have children of our own who attend school at Royal Palm Beach Elementary,” Ghettie said. “My family is made up entirely of Bobcat alumni. Each year we hold a special parade and invite all of our Bobcat alumni who are graduating from either high school or college to walk the halls and it’s truly one of my favorite days of the year. A long-term relationship with our students is very important to me.”
The school’s primary goal for the coming year is for at least 80 percent of kindergarten through second grade students to read at grade level and for at least 75 percent of third through fifth grade students to achieve grade level success in math and science.
The school connects with the community through programs such as the national Read for the Record program and Relay for Life at the South Florida Fairgrounds.
She noted that council member Jeff Hmara and his wife Carolyn came to all the Bobcats and read aloud on October 27 as part of Read for the Record. “We livestreamed the reading of Nigel and the Moon to the whole school. About 700 students were able to hear the reading,” Ghettie said.
Hmara added that Royal Palm Beach Village officials read to a total of more than 1,700 students as part of the program, and that the village continues to receive honorable mentions each year for its initiative and hard work. He also took a moment to thank the school for their Veterans Day program.
“I’m a Vietnam vet and we have a reputation for not being welcome at home,” he said. “But when all the kids came and said thank you, I choked. i cried There is finally my welcome home. It’s a great school. Truly the happiest place.”
Ghettie has repeatedly referred to her school as “the happiest place on earth,” and staff continue to offer initiatives to keep students and staff healthy and happy. One such program is the Bobcat Golden Ticket. Substitute teachers, who often get the most difficult behavior from even the best students, have an opportunity to choose a student who will be the most helpful and make it a great day to study. The ticket will be celebrated on a special display in the school and on social media.
Ghettie then described other special recognitions such as Possum Positive Referrals to recognize those students who make selfless decisions and Woo-Hoo Academic Referrals for high standards and achievement. Pupils of the month – who match the school motto “Be safe. Be polite. Be a learner.” — You will receive a certificate, a pawprint medal and a coupon for a free pizza. Bus drivers can issue bus tickets that students can redeem for treasure chest prizes.
“Bobcat tickets are given away throughout the day, and every Friday morning we select six winners from K-2 and six from third through fifth graders to receive special recognition,” Ghettie said.
Students also begin Mindful Mondays each week to start conversations with teachers and each other. On Tuesdays, kindergarten through second graders are presented with logic challenges, while on Thursdays, the higher grades are treated to brain teasers and math puzzles to solve as a team.
Implementation of these tactics has resulted in major improvements in student behavior across the school.
Board Chair Jennifer Sullivan asked Ghettie to make sure and provide her social media tags for platforms like Facebook and Twitter so the advisory board can continue to spread good things about the school.
Regional Superintendent Valerie Zuloaga-Haines provided an update on the schools in the village and said the only physical damage caused by the recent storms was to foliage. “Students lost two days of classes, but our calendar has taken that into account so they don’t have to make up for those days,” she said.
She provided highlight photos from elementary and middle schools showing the October fun, including trunk-or-treat celebrations and picture-perfect character parades. Zuloaga-Haines congratulated Crestwood Middle School student Ava Mata on her choice to represent the district in the 2023 Art in the Capitol competition. The eighth grader’s work is on display in Washington, DC. At the high school level, RPBHS placed second behind Suncoast in the Math Academics, and RPBHS student Alex Casal also made the national team.
Newly re-elected District 6 Board Member Marcia Andrews expressed her delight at being back for another four-year term.
“It is my pleasure to be here and to thank you for giving me the honor of serving our children,” she said. “It’s a blessing and a privilege to be back on the team. I’m thrilled to be working with them again. I look forward to work. I feel like a new student and we’re starting over.”
In another store, Sullivan announced that the application process for the Royal Palm Beach Scholarship will open on December 16 through the village’s website. Applications for the program are due Friday, February 10th.
New board member Kathleen Greer was also welcomed along with her service dog Bo.
“I’ve been in Royal Palm Beach for about 10 years after retiring from teaching and the military,” Greer said. “So this is my way of getting back into education without putting in all the hours that a full-time teacher puts in. I am happy to be here and to work for you.”
The next Education Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 12 at 6:00 p.m. It will include a presentation by Principal Tsiri Miller of Western Academy Charter School.