Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Evergreen Campus Gives the PSAT

Students at Evergreen Campus come together for sports, pep rallies, and dances

Quiz time: What’s our district’s vision? (This is the participatory part of the blog. I’ll pause for your answer…)

Unless you’re brand new to Highline, you probably said something like, “Every student graduates prepared for college, career, and citizenship.” Don’t worry about memorizing it verbatim. If you put it in your own words, that’s better. And I hope by now you’ve heard me or someone else speak about how “college” is shorthand for any post-secondary option that leads to a career: four year colleges, community colleges, technical colleges, and quality apprenticeship programs.

TEC PSAT administration in the library

AAA students take the PSAT in the gym

Last Wednesday, I was in the north end of our district, so I stopped by the Evergreen Campus during PSAT testing. Highline pays for every student to take the PSAT at least once. We target the 10th grade, and also include 11th graders who for some reason haven’t yet taken it. Most of our juniors take it as well, and there are fee waivers available.

HS3 tested in classrooms

Why do we expect all students to take the PSAT, when some may choose something other than a four year college? We want them to have a choice. By taking the PSAT in 10th grade, students begin to think about college, and what it takes to be ready. And they begin to receive mailings from colleges, immersing them in college culture. If they start this as juniors or seniors, they’ll be at a disadvantage, and doors may have closed that would have been open had they started sooner.

Back to my visit to Evergreen…The Evergreen Campus is comprised of three small high schools:

·         Arts and Academics Academy (AAA)
·         Health Sciences and Human Services High School (HS3)
·         Technology, Engineering, and Communications High School (TEC)

I had a nice visit with principals Norma Barrineau (AAA), Jenni MacDonald (HS3), and Kelly Raymond (TEC). They spoke with me about the joys and challenges of running their schools. I appreciate how they work together so well, in addition to shaping the school they individually lead.

(Left to Right) Principals Jenni MacDonald, Norma Barrineau, and Kelly Raymond

One thing I wish I could do for the principals – and everyone who calls Evergreen home – is deliver them a new school. The Evergreen facility is showing its age. Despite a good effort by our facilities team, the flat roofs leak and the breezeways are deteriorating. The facilities limit our ability to expand lab science classes and even if we got a large donation of computers, we wouldn’t be able to plug them in and put them to use on the antiquated electrical system. The campus is well cared for, but when you’re educating a thousand or so teens a year – and trying to educate them for their future – there is a limit to the usable life of a school. To their credit, the principals know it’s the people who make a school, not the bricks and mortar, and they focus without excuse on what they can do for kids.

Between PSAT testing and visiting with the principals, I didn’t have much time to see other staff. But I did enjoy brief interactions with Mary Jo Leonardson, who taught French when I was assistant principal at Tyee High School in the 1990s and Barb Rodgers, who is a one of our resilient, dedicated office managers.

Best of all, just before I left, Principal MacDonald asked me to visit the integrated learning center (ILC) at HS3. These learners were working with money and will eventually put their life skills to work in the student store. But the very best part was this: I saw a former student from when I was principal at Beverly Park. I recognized “J” immediately. She was a first or second grader when I last knew her. Now, she’s eighteen and I hope the world will treat her – and her ILC classmates – kindly. I know their dedicated instructors do.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for visiting. That day was a pleasure. However, I would have to say that Evergreen "showing its age" is a gross understatement. For the past two cold weeks since your visit many classrooms have been unheated after a mechanical failure. While rumors circulate of an impending repair, my room this morning was 58 degrees during 1st period. While other rooms were able to run space heaters to bring the temperature up closer to a legal minimum, the space heaters blew the fuses in my room, so I am unable to run them and hold functioning classes. Keep our students at Evergreen in your heart and our facilities budget.