Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rep. Pettigrew tours South Seattle schools

During the 2012 session, the Legislature allocated funds in support of creative and innovative programs designed to boost student achievement in a handful of struggling schools in South Seattle. On Friday, January 11th Rep. Pettigrew took some time out of his schedule to check-in on two of the schools that received funding and to see how they’re putting the dollars to work in the classroom.
First up was Rainier Beach High School. RBHS is using the dollars in a wide-variety of ways- from collaborative planning to professional development to parent engagement. 
Rep. Pettigrew (r) and RBHS Principal Dwane Chappelle visit an algebra class
They’ve implemented a staff-wide collaborative planning program that fosters structure and teamwork among educators. RBHS also partnered with the National Training Network for both professional development and to provide extra assistance to students struggling with math.
Understanding that the classroom can’t alone provide the necessary support to a student, they’ve hired a social worker and a family outreach and engagement coordinator. Among the family outreach and engagement coordinator’s job description- making “sunshine calls” to parents to share good news about their students when it’s merited.
After RBHS, Rep. Pettigrew traveled a few miles up the road to Aki Kurose Middle School. Aki Kurose is also using the dollars to focus on closing the achievement gap at the 97% minority middle school.
Rep. Pettigrew (r) and Aki Kurose Principal Mia Williams (l) chat with a City Year Corp member
Their efforts are focused on four critical areas: extra hands in the classroom, extending the academic day, professional development, and for improved technology and books.
Among the improvements- they’ve hired six extra people to increase classroom participation. The extra educators are tasked with re-teaching to target students, supporting the counseling department, and reading intervention. They are providing extra time to teachers so they can analyze student data and make necessary adjustments to the curriculum. They've also created a professional development calendar that provides training to staff on pertinent subjects.
Aki Kurose Principal Mia Williams also shared her data wall with Rep. Pettigrew. Two large charts hang in her office. The charts track each student’s progress on reading and math skills on a red-to-green scale. Often times, students begin the school year in the red and move to green as the school year goes on. The chart not only shows what students need attention, but the impressive progress that’s being made at Aki Kurose.
>Both schools have made efforts to ensure that the improvements made with these grant dollars are sustainable over the long-term.

Read this story in Spanish here.