Pepe fixes the letters with concentration. "The little witch curse…, curse …, cursed", he reads slowly. Franziska nods silently. Pepe laughs. Every morning, 15 minutes before school starts, the fourth-graders of the untermerzbach elementary school set off to meet the youngest students. Then it’s reading sponsor time. Franziska is a reading mentor. She points to a word that pepe has skipped over. He reads the sentence again. "I think it’s good that we can help the first-rate students", says franziska. "We can improve them."
At the start of the school day at 8 o’clock all 54 students of the school come together and sing. After that the lessons take place in two "jami classes" instead of: school of the 1. And 2. As well as 3. And 4. The first and second grades are taught alternately in mixed-grade ("jami") and single-grade form.
"The large classes and only two class leaders mean a lot of work on few shoulders", explains principal anja schmidt "also for substitutions." In addition, a few schools and parents had to make some large financial contributions for bus trips, authors, action days and the like. "The parents’ council is very supportive here", thanks schmidt. The repertoire of additional activities offered at the elementary school ranges from easter breakfasts to theater visits and "fit4future"-sports project.
The challenges posed by low school enrollment are also seen as an opportunity here. More open forms of instruction are being integrated into everyday learning and an active network of volunteers is being brought together with a committed teaching staff.
For the schools, the mixed-grade concept means regular changes in learning groups and role changes. "Every child is sometimes small, sometimes big", it says in the school’s mission statement. Social responsibility and learning by example are called for.
The common goal: "learning with and from each other on the way to the center." Teachers, parents, the parents’ council, schoolchildren, the political community with the mayor and all the employees, the pastor, the lunchtime supervision team, the village store, the community bookshop "komm" are all committed to this and many more, says principal schmidt. "Together" is the general keyword in elementary school. Without the joint efforts of many of those involved, the untermerzbach elementary school would not have existed for a long time. But the school is not only an important location factor for the community, as mayor dietz emphasizes, but also "short distances and a direct transition from the kindergarten to the school in one’s own town, to make the transition for children easier and more contractual in a social sense.