3 Eatonville schools among most innovative

By Pat Jenkins The Dispatch Seven schools in Washington have been selected for the state's Innovative Schools designation for 2016, and three of them are in the Eatonville School District. Eatonville Middle School, Eatonville Elementary School and Columbia Crest A-STEM Academy were picked by the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for their "creative approachesGÇ¥ to education. Joining the Eatonville trio as the latest to earn the award are Brownsville Elementary School in the Central Kitsap School District, East Valley Middle School in the East Valley (Spokane) School District, Garfield Elementary School in the Toppenish School District, and Vancouver iTech Preparatory in the Vancouver School District. A statewide selection committee of education leaders and experts reviewed the school s based on criteria that included 95 percent student participation rates on state tests, level of creativity and experimentation, use of best practices and research, increases in student achievement, collaboration with parents and communities, and high morale and engagement among the staffs. "We're extremely proud of what these schools are doing to connect with their communities and engage business and higher-education in their work,GÇ¥ said state Superintendent Randy Dorn. "Their creative approaches not only promote better student learning. They improve teacher and staff morale, increase positive behavior, and help close the achievement gap. I applaud their willingness to risk doing things differently and serve as laboratories for new ideas.GÇ¥ Thirty-four schools statewide have been honored since the state began handing out the Innovative Schools label in 2011. "This designation recognizes the innovative work already underway in Eatonville and opens the door for us to go even further,GÇ¥ said Michael Farmer, the district's executive director of innovation and learning. Eatonville district officials' descriptions of educational efforts at its Innovative Schools award winners include: " Eatonville Middle School is a STEM-infused comprehensive middle school. Innovative practices are centered on access and technology and "uncommon programsGÇ¥ such as Hands on Horses, AVID and 100 percent enrollment in the College Bound Scholar program. All eighth-graders take algebra. " Eatonville Elementary School integrates arts into different content areas. It also incorporates STEM by working with community partners to give students real-life experiences in science. Outdoor education is promoted through partners such as the Nisqually River Education Project. Students have regular access to technology at school and through field trips to places such as Starry Hill Observatory. " Columbia Crest is a designated STEM school that incorporates outdoor labs and environmental experts in curriculum that is hands-on and project-based. "We have worked hard to create a unique environment for learning, and we are looking forward to continuing to grow in STEM and teaching students in reducing our carbon footprint," said principal Angie Ellenbecker. "These schools provide children with engaging opportunities to learn, grow and excel,GÇ¥ Farmer said. Krestin Bahr, the district's superintendent, said Eatonville educators have worked "out of the boxGÇ¥ to help children succeed "through innovative efforts, powerful partners and professional collaboration. After three years of intense work, we are excited to see our vision for education being recognized.GÇ¥ The Eatonville schools and their fellow Innovative School designees will be formally recognized at a statewide awards ceremony May 10 in Union Gap.


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