2018 WSSDA School Board of Distinction Honor (Date Posted 11/15/2018)
Congratulations to the Shelton School District Board of Directors for receiving the 2018 WSSDA Board of Distinction Award as well as the 2018 WSSDA Equity Award. These awards are presented by the Washington School Boards' Educational Foundation recognizing the commitment to equity in our schools and community. Believing that equity should be celebrated, embedded and recognized the WSBEF awards are meant to honor school directors and districts who develop creative and effective programs that promote equity within their schools and communities.
The following questions were answered during the consideration process:
How has your school district partnered with your local community to enhance equity access and accountability?
Our School Board has supported the adoption of rich and rigorous standards-aligned instructional materials in all core content areas (English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, The Arts, and Health/PE). This gives all of our students opportunity to learn the content of the Washington State Learning Standards using state of the art instructional tools and materials.
We have also developed a strong partnership with the Pacific Education Institute to provide high impact outdoor field experiences to all students in grades K through 9 that integrate content area disciplines, locally relevant hands-on fieldwork, and career connected learning. Our School Board Member Sally Brownfield serves on the Board of the PEI. This partnership has enabled us to provide every student has a field experience every year – including visits to Twanoh State Part, Arcadia Point, Walker Park, Skokomish Estuary, Little Skookum Shellfish Farm, Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail, Cranberry Lake, Mason Lake Forest, Oakland Bay Beaches, Bayshore Preserve, Lake Cushman Dam and Fish Hatchery, and the Seattle Aquarium. Each visit includes interactions with community partners from such organizations as the Green Diamond Resource Company, Squaxin Island and Skokomish Tribes, Mason Conservation District, Capitol Land Trust, South Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, Seattle Shellfish Institute, and PUD 3, as well as business owners, park rangers, and other volunteers who demonstrate the breadth of career opportunities available to the citizens of Mason County. Our students have presented their work before the governor, school directors, and other elected officials. We received a “School of Distinction” award from the Pacific Education Institute and our Superintendent received a “Conservation Education” award from the Capitol Land Trust. We have presented our work at various state, regional, and national conferences and serve as a model district for career connected learning.
Another major partnership that has been established in the district is with Mason General Hospital and Family of Clinics. This partnership has enabled the district to create a Health Science Academy within Shelton High School. The Academy provides 200+ students with specific pathways to a variety of health careers. The academy includes CTE coursework in direct patient care, healthcare business, and biotechnology as well as field experiences, job shadows, internships, and industry certifications.
But, even though we have rich and rigorous programs for all students – we are aware that some students need additional supports and services in order to be successful in our schools. Being equitable does not always mean being equal. To this end, we have created a partnership with Housing Options for Students in Transition (HOST) program and developed a strong program of support for our McKinney Vento students. We are one of three school districts in the State of Washington to be awarded a federal Project AWARE grant that provides on-site mental health services to students in collaboration with ESD 113, Behavioral Health Resources, and Consejo. And, we have created a Newcomer Re-engagement program for English Learners (EL) with a local community-based literacy organization Sound Learning.
How has your school district celebrated equity with your students and families?
We are part of a community-wide grassroots initiative called Graduation Matters Shelton that focuses on the goal of 100% graduation. The mission of Graduation Matters Shelton is to “inspire, empower, and prepare youth of diverse backgrounds for graduation and beyond.” This initiative has engaged business leaders, elected officials, tribal leaders, and other community partners in preparing all students to graduate career and college ready – and ready for life.
There are many activities that take place at the school and district level that celebrate our district’s ethnic and cultural diversity. Our high schools sponsor a variety of culture and diversity clubs. Our middle school hosts an all-inclusive culture fair every other year. Our dual language Spanish immersion elementary school regularly invites parents and families into the school for educational and cultural events. Last summer, we broke ground on two major construction projects (Shelton High School and Mountain View Elementary). Tribal Elders from both the Squaxin Island and Skokomish Tribes participated in a ceremony to bless the construction sites.
We have a large and growing population of Hispanic students here in Shelton. We are encouraging our students whose first language is Spanish to continue to develop their first language while learning English – first in our dual language elementary school, and then through Spanish content course offerings at the secondary level. Part of this initiative is to provide opportunities for our students to earn the Seal of Biliteracy at graduation. The chart below shows the number of students earning the Seal from 2015 to the present. This has definitely been cause for celebration!
Our newly established Student and Family Resource Center hosted a back to school celebration in August and will be hosting a holiday celebration in December. These celebrations provide much-needed supplies and services to ensure that all students come to school on time, every day, ready to learn.
In collaboration with the local Tribes, our district is currently celebrating Native American Heritage Month and will be celebrating Billy Frank Junior Day in March. This will include guest speakers, presentations, assemblies, and other school-based activities. In May we will hold a ceremony where all Native students are recognized for their accomplishments – and graduating seniors will be presented with a beautiful, hand-crafted button robe with specific personal and tribal significance. Students wear these and other tribal realia when they participate in graduation ceremonies. The CHOICE High School graduation is an especially important celebration because many of the students there are the first in their families to graduate from high school. The event is open to all friends and family (no tickets necessary!) and enjoys a particularly high turnout and air of celebration. CHOICE High School is home to an unusually diverse student population, and this fall created a “Diversity Mural” (pictured below) to represent their commitment to being a caring and inclusive community.
Thank you, Keri Davidson, Sandy Tarzwell, Sally Brownfield, Sally Karr, and Dan Cooling for the vision and direction as you lead the Shelton School District into the future.
We Are #SheltonProud