It is my pleasure to welcome you to our Gurney website and hopefully to our school as well! Gurney Elementary School is an amazing place where the WHOLE child is developed through a combination of school wide social/emotional programming and high caliber, academic instruction. Our students thrive in this child-centered environment, which has truly been developed by a very devoted staff and supported by very dedicated parents.
Please read further to learn about the Gurney Staff, programming, and facility.
Dr. Rachel L. Jones
The Gurney Teaching Staff:
The Gurney teaching staff is an amazing family! The caliber is exceptional with at least 90% of the teachers holding advanced degrees, 100% holding Google Educator Certificates, several teachers with National Board Certification, and many more working on and/or holding a variety of education endorsements such as Reading Endorsement, English as a Second Language Endorsement, Gifted Endorsement, etc.! More importantly, you’d be hard-pressed to find a staff more devoted to their students' academic, social, and emotional success!
The teachers at Gurney focus on providing research-based, differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all students. Naturally, in an early childhood setting, there is an emphasis on developing strong skills in the areas of language arts and mathematics. Staff development opportunities and school goals reinforce this commitment. Our teachers incorporate multi-sensory approaches to teaching, addressing the learning needs of all students. Teachers use a balanced approach to literacy instruction combining strong programming such as Ready Reading, Lucy Calkins Writing Program, The Phonics Dance, guided reading instruction, and writers' workshop practices. Math instruction using the Bridges Math program incorporates research-based strategies to enhance students’ learning, problem-solving, and skill development. To secure competency in math, multiple strategies for obtaining answers are explored. In both language arts and math, the teachers at each grade level use common pretests, formative assessments, diagnostic assessments, rubrics and summative assessments to monitor student progress throughout the year. Science and Social Studies units are packed with engaging, developmentally appropriate activities and learning experiences. Units are designed with over-arching understandings as instructional targets, project-based learning activities, formative and summative assessments, and exciting lessons. Every teacher also spends quality time teaching a strong foundation of social skills using the Responsive Classroom Program. This program assists each teacher in developing a sense of community in their classrooms so that all children feel valued, connected, and comfortable to learn. Our team of encore teachers provide exciting units of study for our students in music, art, physical education, Spanish, STEM, library/keyboarding, and guidance. It has been this phenomenal combination of academic rigor and the efforts directed at developing students' social/emotional strengths that has led Gurney Elementary School to being named an Ohio Hall of Fame School in both 2004 and 2012!
Gurney Elementary School serves as the only primary school in the district and houses approximately 500 students in preschool through third grade. Our student population comes from seven surrounding villages and townships in two different counties. Our school building sits on a 35-acre campus with beautiful woods, two playgrounds and a legendary sled-riding hill! The campus includes the district's high school athletic fields for softball, lacrosse and junior varsity soccer. We also house the district bus garage. The school opened in 1966 and was closed in 1983 for five years due to declining enrollment. The building reopened in 1988. The district reconfigured in 1998 establishing Gurney as a preK-3 facility.
Rachel Jones was named the Principal of Gurney Elementary School in June, 2001. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Kent State University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Akron. In 2006, Rachel Jones earned her Doctorate in Educational Foundations and Leadership from the University of Akron. In 2011, Rachel was chosen to participate in a national program to develop the criteria for principals’ National Board Certification Standards which she completed in 2013. Rachel has also served as an Adjunct Professor for both Ursuline College and the University of Akron, served as a mentor principal for the Cuyahoga County ESC Beginning Principal Mentorship Program, and is a recent alum of the Ohio Education Policy Fellowship Program. She completed the National Security and Strategic Leadership Seminar in 2015 to achieve a certificate in Leader Development from the U.S. Army War College.
In the past 18 years as principal of Gurney, Rachel has facilitated transitions to new curriculum standards, new assessments, new special education procedures, new instructional programs in literacy and math, the full day kindergarten option, the Responsive Classroom Program, kinesthetic classroom supports/furniture, and more. Under Rachel’s leadership, Gurney has received the OAESA Hall of Fame School Award in 2004 and 2012, has been named the One School One Book Model School of 2012, has demonstrated strong achievement on the state report card each year, and has produced many individual teacher leadership achievements. Rachel serves on The Chagrin Falls District Leadership Team and the Chagrin Falls Technology Committee. In the spring of 2014, Rachel was named the Ohio Distinguished Elementary School Principal of the Year.
Prior to working at Gurney Elementary School, Rachel was the assistant principal at Wilcox Primary School in the Twinsburg City School District for two years and prior to that she taught for the Hudson City School District for eight years.