New school year brings changes

Camas and Washougal school districts will begin classes Sept. 4

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The beginning of school means the start of all things new: New school supplies, clothes, teachers and programs. It also means a new grade and perhaps new friends.

In the Camas and Washougal school districts, classes will begin Tuesday, Sept. 4. It is the first time in several years both districts have started school on the same day. Other changes include new administrators, construction projects, an iPad pilot program and a teacher mentoring program.

New administrators

In Camas, new administrators include Derek Jaques, Camas High School associate principal; Brian Wilde, CHS dean of students, Josh Gibson, district athletic director; Laura Nowland, transportation manager and Sherman Davis, technology director. See the full story on Gibson on page A6 of today’s Post-Record.

Davis, Wilde and Gibson have been employed by the district in other positions, while Nowland and Jaques are new to Camas.

Nowland, 52, lives in Vancouver but plans to purchase a home in Camas.

Her last job was as director of transportation for the 6,000 student Central Kitsap School District.

“In addition to regular routes, the transportation department performed around 3,500 extra-curricular and co-curricular trips each year,” she said.

Nowland applied for the transportation manager position in Camas because she is from Clark County and wanted to return to the area.

“Camas has really grown while I’ve been gone,” she said.

According to Nowland, in her first year she’s hoping to get the transportation department engaged with the community, so that there is a better understanding of the vital role it plays in ensuring students arrive to school safely and ready to learn.

“Everyone has been warm and welcoming, [and] really it’s about the people,” she said.

Jaques, 36, lives in Washougal. Before working in Camas, he was employed as an administrator at West Linn High School in Oregon.

“I applied to work at CHS because of the tremendous reputation of the Camas School District and proximity to home,” he said. “I am extremely excited to join the tremendous team at CHS.”

During his first year, Jaques is hoping to build positive relationships with the students, staff and community.

“I will work hard to help the Camas School District and CHS reach our goals,” he said. “My biggest learning curve will be learning the differences of practice and the new systems within Camas. I fully believe in the underlying philosophy of the district, and believe there is distinct commonalities between high achieving school districts. Camas is my third nationally recognized district. Corbett, West Linn and Camas all have similar philosophies, but different practices.”

Construction continues

In addition to new administrators, the district is also continuing construction of Woodburn Elementary, its sixth elementary school.

It is located on Crown Road, across from the Hills at Round Lake subdivision, with an expected completion date in January.

“The building framework is up, we’re doing interior and exterior finishes,” said Heidi Rosenberg, capital programs director. “Final grading is complete and we’ve began site improvements such as sidewalks and play areas.”

School capacity will be approximately 600 students. Woodburn has a nature theme, which is reflected in its color scheme and access to a trail link to Lacamas Park. There will be etched glass windows at both ends of the library and large windows throughout the building to take advantage of the views and natural light.

The project will cost approximately $17.9 million.

Other building improvements around the district include renovating the existing transportation center to accommodate more drivers. There will also be parking added for additional buses associated with projected student enrollment growth during the next 10 to 15 years, and security cameras will be installed. The project will cost $583,523.

The district will be getting 10 new propane buses in October, and a fueling station will be constructed soon.

Washougal introduces new teacher mentoring program

In Washougal, new teachers will receive additional instruction through the Beginning Educator Support Team program.

The purpose is to provide support and encouragement for first- and second-year teachers to strengthen their instructional skills and help retain competent educators in the profession.

Mary Lou Woody, principal of Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School and Canyon Creek Middle School, is a mentor in the program and has participated before.

A training session for the 12 new teachers and 12 mentor teachers will occur this week.

“This experience provides for mentees and mentors to develop a long-term mentoring relationship that lasts long after the grant is over,” she said. “The grant was designed for the mentees, but mentors learn too. New teachers fresh out of college have so much to share. For instance, they are very tech savvy, not only with navigating the web to find resources, but with troubleshooting as well.”

She added the new teachers have also have had many opportunities to observe and work in numerous classrooms in different grade levels during their college years, so they have a wealth of ideas to share with older teachers.

After a training day on classroom practices, the mentors and mentees will spend time observing each other in the classrooms, and then discussing the observation, with a focus on classroom management strategies and instructional strategies.

Mentors receive support for their role through training and roundtable discussions. New teachers attend professional development workshops that focus on knowledge and skills for effective teaching and learning in the classroom.

“The greatest benefit to new teachers is providing them with the support and encouragement to strengthen their instructional skills,” Woody said. “Universities do an excellent job of preparing new teachers, but once they have their own classroom, it can be overwhelming. When an issue arises, rather than working to solve the problem on their own, they can discuss it with their mentor to develop the best solution. By providing this much needed support for new teachers, there is a better chance of retaining competent teachers in the profession. Fifty percent of teachers leave the profession after seven years, citing lack of support as the primary reason.”

Fifth-graders will dive in to new iPad pilot program

Another change in Washougal is the iPad pilot program in one fifth-grade classroom at each of the district’s elementary schools. Students in these classrooms will be using iPads to access electronic textbooks and online materials.

They will also create and build online projects and videos. The teachers participating in the pilot received training earlier in August, and are planning lessons to use to share the new devices with their students and families.

During the first few weeks of school, parents and students in the pilot classrooms will be invited to an “iPad night,” where parents and students will get a hands-on look at the devices, work through a project, and learn about the pilot.

The teachers participating in the grant are Erin Maier, Erin Hayes, Chelsea Meats and Stephanie Closson.

Teachers from La Center and Hockinson school districts also participated in the summer training.

The Washougal School Board is also using ipads at their meetings, and approved the pilot earlier this summer.