Camas-Washougal schools recognized for positive impacts on students

Dorothy Fox, Gause, Jemtegaard, Liberty get honors

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Washougal School District Superintendent Mary Templeton visits with students at Gause Elementary School in Washougal. (Contributed photo courtesy of Rene Carroll)

Four local schools have been recognized for their academic excellence by Washington state education leaders.
Washougal’s Jemtegaard Middle School and Gause Elementary School (GES), and Camas’ Dorothy Fox Elementary School and Liberty Middle School are among 391 learning facilities named “State Recognized Schools” for the 2018-19 school year.
The Washington State Board of Education, Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee, and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in April named schools that have had positive impacts on students and made “outstanding efforts” during the 2018-19 school year.
The state Board of Education will formally recognize the schools and send school leaders a banner and certificate later this spring.
“Washington schools are inspiring,” Washington Board of Education chair Peter Maier stated in a news release issued by the Washougal School District. “With these awards, we recognize the outstanding efforts of our schools and their positive impact on students.”
State education leaders recognized the schools in at least one of the following categories: closing opportunity gaps for specific student groups and making systems changes to improve outcomes for all students; showing progress from one year to the next; and showing high performance in many measures, including English language arts (ELA) and math state test scores, and graduation rates.
Gause Elementary earned its award for its “growth for students identifying as Hispanic.”
“Gause is very honored to be recognized for the work we have done, and continue to do, for the academic growth for our Hispanic students,” said the school’s principal, Tami Culp. “Our staff works collaboratively to review data and design instruction to meet the needs of our students. This award recognizes the effectiveness of our instruction, specifically in our diverse student populations. This growth is an example of the work we are doing to close the gap in education for our students. We accept and celebrate this award on behalf of all the staff at Gause for making a difference in our Hispanic students’ academic lives each and every day.”
Jemtegaard Middle earned honors for “closing gaps for one or more student groups at a targeted support school.”
This marks the second straight year Jemtegaard has been named as a “State Recognized School.” In 2019, the school earned recognition in the “closing gaps” and “growth” categories during the 2017-18 school year.
“Our (Jemtegaard) teachers have worked well together to create common curriculum and assessments across sixth through eighth grade based on the needs of our students,” said the school’s principal, David Cooke. “This means that there is consistency in learning throughout the grade levels in essential reading, writing and mathematical skills.
“Finally, we are most proud of our students,” Cooke added. “They show up with a great attitude and a willingness to learn. They trust the adults in our building and work well with them to improve their learning. They look after each other so that all Huskies can be successful.”
Dorothy Fox Elementary earned its recognition for “achievement for English language arts, math and regular attendance.”
Dorothy Fox principal Cathy Sork said her teachers and administrators have built a culture in which students feel “that they have a voice,” and that mistakes are accepted and valued as part of a learning process.
Sork added that Dorothy Fox teachers and staff also emphasize attendance by offering an “Every Minute of Learning” award to students “who for one whole trimester were never absent, never late and never left early from school.”
“Our school program is strongly focused on the standards as opposed to a specific program or set of materials,” she said. “(Our) teachers use professional expertise and collaboration with colleagues to analyze what students know and make decisions about how best to engage students in grade level standards.
“Over the years, we have increased our collaboration, sharing and opening of teacher classrooms to share our practice with each other. Our teachers know we can learn so much from each other. We (also) have a dedicated parent community and a traditionally low level of turnover among school employees. These factors help us to be able to build best practices, create a strong team and build a community that cares about kids.”
Liberty Middle earned its honor for “growth for students who qualify for the free and reduced-price lunch program.”
During the past several years, Liberty leaders identified a gap between the growth made by students in the free- and reduced-price lunch program and students who are not in the program, according to principal Gary Moller.
“While our specific (actions have) changed over the past five or six years, the focus has been on implementing changes that have a strong correlation to helping students with less resources,” Moller said. “Each year we implement small changes with the hope that they will have an impact. When we find something that seems to work, we keep doing it and then add more things the next year.
“The constant in all of this, of course, is our staff — our teachers, paraprofessionals, office and other support staff. Without their commitment to the students, it wouldn’t matter what policies were in place.”