Two Thurston County schools have been honored as Schools of Distinction.
The award, which looks at progress made during a five-year span, was created in 2007 to recognize schools that improve performance in reading and math during a sustained period. The designation honors the top 5 percent of schools that are improving in the state.
Woodland Elementary School in Lacey was recognized for the first time. A key to Woodland’s success is consistency, said David Warning, who has been principal of the school for seven years.
Classes at Woodland start at 8:40 a.m., but students arrive as early as 8:20, Warning said. As part of the language-arts emphasis, students sit in the halls and read before class starts.
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“We have a talented staff that works very closely together,” Warning said. “It’s being very consistent and intentional and looking at data on a regular basis and figuring out who needs what, and making sure that any child gets help the best way.”
Last week, when staff looked at data one grade level at a time, teachers had a photograph of their class in front of them so they could focus on individuals and not just data, Warning said.
Tenino High School was a repeat winner, but the honor reflects improvement districtwide, said Dave Chappell, who has been the high school’s principal for three years.
“It’s very special for the school,” Chappell said, adding that the award is indicative of improvement in state test scores and graduation rates.
“We are very happy that we’re on the right track.”
Chappell said Tenino High School has targeted professional development to increase student engagement and implemented a reward system for students who are doing the right thing. Students get a card and teachers can stamp it for good work, promptness and other positive behavior. Full cards can be redeemed for snacks or prizes.
He said the areas of emphasis in his school are the positive-reward system, technology, safety and security, professional learning and explicit instruction.
The two Thurston County schools were among 90 statewide to be recognized. Thirty-five schools have won more than once.
The award is given by The Center for Educational Effectiveness in partnership with the Association of Educational Service Districts, the Association of Washington School Principals, the Washington Association of School Administrators and the Washington State School Directors’ Association.