Mission P.A.W.S.ible: Students return to Elvin Hill Elementary School

Published 10:32 am Friday, August 11, 2023

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By EMILY SPARACINO | Special to the Reporter

COLUMBIANA – Summer is winding down, and schools across Shelby County have officially welcomed back students back for the 2023-2024 school year.

At Elvin Hill Elementary School in Columbiana, Principal Courtney Madison and her faculty and staff were eager for students to arrive for the first day of school on Thursday, Aug. 10.

“We tried to do our best to just make it light and fun. We just wanted them to come in rested, rejuvenated and ready for the new year. It’s been a great start,” Madison said.

Madison, who is starting her fifth year as Elvin Hill’s principal, said she and her staff begin each year by thinking about the school’s mission, P.A.W.S., the letters of which connect to the concepts of purpose, accountability, working together and serving with kindness.

“We think about what we want our focus to be, and we build from there,” she said. “This year, our theme is Mission P.A.W.S.ible.”

Although the planning and preparation process for a new school year can seem overwhelming because of the many factors involved, Madison said she encourages her colleagues to approach it one step at a time.

“It is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the tasks that have to be completed,” Madison said. “Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, you can only do one thing at a time. Step by step, bit by bit, it all gets accomplished. You just really have to prioritize all of the tasks and keep the students—the people—at the heart of what you’re doing.”

Even in stressful moments, Madison said the back-to-school period brings excitement, too.

“There’s a weird thrill that comes out of all the stress,” she said. “I always say it’s like a family reunion all over again.”

And at Elvin Hill, the family is growing.

“We have quite a few new students who have moved into the community and the school, and we are excited to welcome them and see our returning students,” Madison said. “I just look forward to getting back into the swing of things and doing what we do.”

Madison said another priority for her staff is to help students grow emotionally, socially, physically and academically.

“It’s really looking at the whole child,” she said. “At the end of the day, we want our students to be productive citizens, grow to be leaders and be able to work together and essentially build a better world.”

Madison described her faculty and staff members as “the best of the best” and “the cream of the crop.”

“They show up every day, they work hard, and they are really in it for the students,” she said. “There is no place I’d rather be than at Elvin Hill. We really are looking forward to the best school year that we’ve ever had.”

With the school year now underway, summer has come to an end, and it was a busy summer at EHES as Matthew McConaughey filmed scenes from an upcoming movie at the school.

Now, more stars are back and roaming the halls with the students and staff back for a new year.