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Meet the principal: Suzanne Flint

By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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Though Rock Creek Elementary Principal Suzanne Flint is excited to see all of her students, new and old, back this year, she is intrigued by one class. This year’s first-graders are the first class that will take the Common Core assessment, which is being introduced in schools throughout California this year. They are also the first class to have gone through Rock Creek’s transitional kindergarten program. Flint said by going through transitional kindergarten it prepares very young students for the routine of a classroom. “They tend to be able to focus on the academic responsibilities they have,” Flint said. Transitional kindergarten acclimates students with what is expected of them during school, like hanging up book bags and participating in group activities. Since the students who go through transitional kindergarten are used to the routines of a school day, by the time they get to kindergarten and first grade, they’re able to participate in the learning process faster. That’s why Flint thinks her first-graders this year are ready for the Common Core assessment. She also thinks her teachers are ready to implement the Common Core standards, which have to be fully used and understood in classrooms by 2014. “There are all of these different levels of the Common Core and to get where students can really demonstrate what they know will take some practice,” Flint said. Rock Creek Elementary has a growing student population. This year there are 345 students at the school, 200 of which are English-language learners. “We are jammed,” Flint said. Around 90 percent of those students also qualify for free or reduced lunch, so Rock Creek gets Title I funding, which paid for the school’s preschool program, which is in its second year. Last year, the preschool program started with 20 students total and has grown to 20 students in the 4-year-old program and 20 students in the 3-year-old program. New English-language learners were in the process of taking the California English Language Development Test last week. It tests students on how well they can listen, speak, read and write in English. Flint said her school has the highest percentage of students who are learning English in the Auburn Union School District, most of which speak primarily Spanish. Contact Amber Marra at amberm@ goldcountrymedia.com.