New programs help students open up and engage in class
Our schools are in the middle of a philosophical change in how they deal with student discipline. Gone are the days where disruptive students are tossed out of class and suspended, only to return the following day with the same emotional problems.
Now, instead of simply banishing misbehaving students, schools are following what’s called the restorative justice model of discipline. Restorative justice mirrors the way students are already learning in class: Teach. Practice. Reinforce. Repeat.
“Restorative justice is an umbrella term that means moving away from punitive discipline towards rebuilding a community, rebuilding relationships, rebuilding the emotional integrity in the classroom,” said Bethel Middle School Principal Julie Schultz-Bartlett.
To read more click here.
National Blue Ribbon Schools—Learning Requires Engagement
The U.S. Department of Education once again showcased our own Evergreen Elementary for improving and sustaining their success over the long term. "By taking collective responsibility for student achievement and collaboratively providing supports to each other, students and their families, educators at Evergreen have never lost the momentum that propelled their turnaround years ago."
Read more here.
New Educational Tools
Bethel High School social studies teacher Suzanne Doyle attended a weeklong neuroeducation conference this summer and returned to school with a new tool in her educational tool belt: A lacrosse ball. It turns out bouncing balls while performing mental activities can strengthen brain activity in students.
It’s all pretty complicated, so it’s best to let Suzanne explain it: “I learned that physical activity readies the brain for learning. It actually gets students out of their amygdala and into their pre-frontal cortexes, where academic learning takes place. It builds dendrites, strengthens synapses, brings oxygen to the brain and all sort of other good benefits,” she said.
So this year, before they begin class, Doyle’s students bounce lacrosse balls while trying to spell complicated words.
Doyle was able to get the balls thanks to generous support from Longstreth and Lacrosse Balls Direct. She also received $100 in vouchers from DICK'S Sporting Goods, which she passed on to students in need at BHS.
“In a world that can sometimes seem lacking I found three companies that were willing to make a difference in the life of our kids. Please consider using these companies when ordering team and or personal merchandise. Big companies changing lives. Awesome!” Doyle said.
New methods to learning math in Bethel Schools
SPANAWAY, Wash. -- New research on how to help kids learn and understand math is now being taught in the Bethel School District.
The Bethel School District sent staff to Stanford to learn about this teaching method called Creative Mindset Mathematics. They came back to teach other staff and spent Summer Math Camp teaching 5th graders with this new method.
Teacher April Forsyth said they're also helping to prove the new theories: Working with kids in groups; getting them to form connections so they understand the math.
Encourage both number sense and reasoning while being very cooperative, collaborative and students are being creative and having fun with it," said Forsyth.
"I like how it's very social and there's no by-yourself work -- it's all together," said Hailey Shenefield.
The method, under research at Stanford University, works on making both a visual and a numerical connection to build the concept and understanding in the brain. Read more here.
Summer Institute Wrap Up!
This year's Summer Institute was a great success, as staff at all levels were able to focus, train and prep for the coming school year.
Middle school teachers tackled topics surrounding curriculum support, while high school teachers focused on the transition to trimesters which helped prepare them for the schedule change, and longer 70-minute classes.
Elementary teachers got familiar with CORE Learn, a curriculum supplement that compliments our ReadyGen curriculum. School teams worked together and 79% of elementary teachers attended the trainings!
Our School Board kicked off this year's Summer Institute by serving breakfast to the teachers as they arrived on the first day.
Elementary overcrowding forces preschool location changes
Bethel’s overcrowding has forced two of our preschools to change locations this fall. Naches Trail and North Star elementary will now be home to preschool classrooms previously located in Thompson and Nelson elementaries. These changes are due to the rapidly growing student population in the district.
2019/20 Preschool locations:
• Elk Plain Head Start
• Frederickson Preschool
• Naches Trail Preschool
• Nelson Preschool
• North Star Preschool
• Pioneer Valley Preschool
• Spanaway Preschool
• Thompson Early Learning Center
Our preschool programs serve three, four and five-year-old students. We embrace a play-based, child-centered philosophy taught by highly knowledgeable and experienced early childhood teachers and staff. Read more here.
A little over a decade ago, Bethel’s English Learner program consisted of just 165 students.
The program, which aims to bring English learners up to academic language proficiency, now has more than 1,000 participants from all over the globe.
“As we know, Bethel is growing as a whole, so I don’t see this slowing down. I see it continuing to grow and diversify. Over the past twelve years we’ve gone from speaking 13 languages to speaking over 35 different languages,” said Sonja Hemmerling, Bethel’s Director of Special Services.
The program has historically been known as ELL (English Language Learners), but the name officially changed to EL (English Learner) as part of 2015’s Every Student Succeeds Act. Read more here.
FREE school supplies! For the second year, the Bethel School District will be providing the bulk of the school supplies needed for elementary students.
Elementary families will only be responsible for a backpack, headphones or earbuds (for iPad use) and a school supply box. 4th and 5th grade students will also need a 3-ring binder.
Everything else will be provided.
“There should be no barriers to a free and appropriate public education for all students,” said Dr. David Hammond, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Schools. “As a district, we felt it was important for all students to have the supplies they need to be successful in school, while taking the burden off of families for purchasing those supplies.”
To further assist families, the Bethel Outreach Bus has been making stops all over the community this summer with free school supplies (including backpacks), non-perishable food, snack packs, and plenty of fun and games.
BOB’s next several stops will be at the Woodland Estates on July 18, the Deer Run Mobile Home Park on July 23 and at the Winchester Village Mobile Community on July 30. Stop by any of those locations from 10-11 a.m. or from noon to 1 p.m.
Federal grant will help Bethel’s ‘unaccompanied youth’
Being a kid can be difficult, and it becomes exponentially harder when you don’t have the stability of a permanent home.
As a district, we do everything we can for the roughly 170 Bethel students who are considered “unaccompanied youth,” or students who don’t live with a parent or legal guardian.
Whether they’re staying with friends, living in a vehicle, or camping outside, these unaccompanied students can’t always count on receiving adult guidance or mentorship.
Thanks to a three-year, $135,000 federal McKinney-Vento grant, Bethel will soon be able to hire a “navigator” to help guide those students as they work their way through school toward graduation.
“I think this will help them succeed academically and give them hope and let them know that there are people who care about them, because every child needs that,” said Jackie Crowley, Bethel’s McKinney-Vento Liaison.
The McKinney-Vento program works to provide academic stability and consistency for students who would otherwise be transferring schools, sometimes multiple times in a year.
Crowley said prior to applying for the grant, she and her team spoke with school counselors and students about how the district could best help unaccompanied students. They all agreed that having a dedicated employee to work with students one-on-one would be best.
The new navigator will be in place by the beginning of the school year. The grant money will last for three years, but if the program is successful the district can reapply for three more years.
New this fall: Free AP tests for all!
Money should never be the deciding factor for a student pursuing academic excellence, so beginning this fall the district will begin covering the cost of Advanced Placement tests for all students.
During the 2018/19 school year, we had 876 Advanced Placement (AP) students: 176 from Bethel High, 272 from Spanaway Lake, and an impressive 428 from Graham-Kapowsin.
That’s a lot of students, and in fact, all three of our comprehensive high schools have been recognized for being in the top 1% in the country for ensuring equitable access to AP classes for all students.
District leaders want to keep that trend going, which is why Bethel will begin covering the cost of AP tests for all students. Previously the district covered the cost of one test per student. Now, all students will have all their tests covered, no matter how many AP classes they take.
“This will help provide a level of equity,” said Superintendent Tom Seigel.
This new shift will ensure that the cost of the tests ($94 each) won’t discourage students from challenging themselves in high school.
The district will also begin covering the cost of the ACT or SAT tests (which test is yet to be determined) for all juniors this fall. And students in the Cambridge program at Bethel High School will continue to have all of their test costs covered.
These are just a few ways our district is helping students overcome financial barriers so they can get the most academically out of their high school careers.
Pierce College classes coming to SLHS campus
This fall, Pierce College classes will be available during the day in portable classrooms on the Spanaway Lake High School campus. The classes are available to Running Start students, as well as interested community members.
Classes being offered this fall include English Composition 1 and Introduction to Statistics.
This new program is part of a partnership between Pierce College and the Bethel School District to help more south Pierce County residents get started in college. Last year, the partnership brought evening classes to Graham-Kapowsin High School. That program will continue this fall as well.
Enrollment for classes at both schools is now open. More information is available by clicking the links below.
Curriculum Adoption: Statistical Reasoning in Sports
Statistics in Sports is a newly adopted 1-trimester math elective course. This course will help students learn important statistical reasoning via sports analysis.
Teachers from Bethel, Graham-Kapowsin, and Spanaway Lake high schools met to review materials and selected Statistical Reasoning in Sports from the three options available. This book has the most up-to-date information, the math aligns to the standards for the course, the reading level is accessible to high school students, and it covers a wide variety of sports and sports figures in order to appeal to a wide variety of students. The School Board has also reviewed the book.
Loren Wilson, Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning, Statistics in Sports looks to be a popular course.
Students at Spanaway Lake High School will be the first to see it this fall.
New Social-Emotional Learning curriculum will be in place this fall
Last month, our School Board formally adopted a new Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum that will be used in our elementary and middle schools beginning this fall.
Mallory Shull is a social worker at Spanaway Elementary School who has been piloting the new Second Step curriculum with students in kindergarten through third grade.
She said the topics addressed in the new curriculum are the same across grade levels, but as the kids get older, the lessons adapt to the students’ age. Shull said the lessons involve a variety of activities for students to take part in, including everything from dancing to discussions. Learn more at https://medium.com/@BethelSD/dont-flip-your-lid-ea7bb8aa4d86.
Pioneer Valley Elementary and Acceleration Academy to be honored in Olympia
Pioneer Valley Elementary and the Bethel Acceleration Academy are being recognized in Olympia! Both schools are leaders in terms of growth and achievement – specifically when it comes to closing gaps and demonstrating improvement among student groups identified for support.
As Washington State Recognized Schools, Pioneer Valley and the Acceleration Academy were among those selected by the State Board of Education, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee to be honored in Olympia next month. Learn more at http://sbe.wa.gov/our-work/accountability/2017-2018-state-recognized-schools