Little school on the Spanish prairie

by Magdalena LoGrande
496th Air Base Squadron

***image1***With an enrollment of only 36 students, grades K-8, Sevilla Elementary and Middle School is the second smallest school in Department of Defense Dependents Schools -Europe.

Stacey Tasler Crosson, U.S. Air Forces in Europe school liaison officer, and Terry Johnston, wife of Brig. Gen. Rich Johnston, KMC and 86th Airlift Wing commander, toured the school Sept. 20 and 21 during a base visit. They had a chance to visit the multi-grade classrooms while school was in session, witnessing first-hand how teachers operate in this type of multi-grade setting.
They also saw how the teachers managed to provide personalized attention driven by each student’s needs while maintaining a cohesive social and academic environment.

It is this aspect of the small-group instruction model that made Sevilla EMS an assignment of choice for Anita Medeby, Sevilla EMS gifted education teacher.  She taught for 19 years at the smallest DoDDS-Europe school, Kleine Brogel Elementary School, located in Belgium.

“The reason why these schools are so unique and special is that teachers have an opportunity to get to know the kids very well and are able to differentiate their learning needs so that they can meet those needs,” said Ms. Medeby. “Another unique advantage  is that students get to know and trust their teachers one-on-one, which is harder to achieve in large classroom settings.”

During the visit, Ms. Crosson provided a briefing to the school parents on USAFE and DODDS-Europe initiatives and partnerships.

“I’m very impressed with the performance of the Sevilla EMS.  I like the student-teacher ratio,” said Capt. Christopher Carmichael, 4th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron, who added, “Specifically, Mr. Fichera, the kindergarten and first grade teacher is exceptional. He finds a way to connect to each student. If one student doesn’t understand a concept, he changes his teaching method until the student understands.”

 Due to the small enrollment, a dedicated teacher for physical education, art or music is not authorized at Sevilla EMS. However,  the staff has creatively incorporated those subjects into the curriculum by combining them into core curriculum classes. Rota Naval Air Station, a neighboring base, provides once-a-week lessons on otherwise unavailable classes.

There are not any absentee problems or discipline incidents at Sevilla EMS, officials said. Parents are involved and familiar with the school environment. Didem Parker, a parent, member of the Parent and Teacher Organization and part-time school staff member, said Sevilla EMS is a school where each student matters and receives special attention from its dedicated educators and the Morón Air Base community.

“I feel so lucky that my son is a member of the Sevilla EMS family,” she said.
Though the school is small, its heart is big.  It is alive with the spirit of a supportive community where both students and teachers thrive. Sevilla EMS students, staff and parents are proud of their little school on the Spanish prairie.