The Latest from Camas School District
Board Highlights (just the facts)
Superintendent Snell gave an update on our strategic planning process's final stages, indicating that our student, staff, and family feedback continues to highlight the importance of student wellness - addressing basic and social-emotional needs in a safe learning environment. To serve each student well, students need to feel they belong to their learning community and have access to engaging learning opportunities. The following areas are foundational to seeing & serving EACH student.
Snell asked board members to use these four areas to frame their conversation around what they learned at the recent, virtual Washington State School Director’s meeting earlier this month. An appreciation for the virtual format was echoed by all with board member Erik Cox noting that the chat function of the Zoom meetings meant that many more voices were heard and ideas shared.
Board President Connie Hennessey reflected on the keynote speaker (our own 2020 WA State Teacher of the Year) Amy Campbell: “Amy sharing her learning journey crystalized my thinking about inclusion, and hearing voices from students, staff, and community. We need to make sure the decisions we are making are guided by our groups, English Language Learners, students receiving Special Services, LGTBQ+, etc., and that those voices trickle into everything we do.”
Erika appreciated people taking the time to share priorities and concerns via the Thoughtexchange during and leading up to our November Town Hall. “It is an unfortunate situation we are in with case levels continuing to rise in our community. We will continue to plan and discuss options for how best to move forward.”
Tracy Malone and Corey McEnry echoed the need to inclusively reach stakeholders who are not easily connected to the day-to-day work we do.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Charlene Williams gave an update on student engagement at the secondary level first noting that although attendance looks differently in our remote setting it has improved at four of our six secondary schools when compared to the first three months of school in 2019.
Related to academics, Dr. Williams indicated more than 300 students at the middle and high school levels are meeting in small groups for in-person instruction each week. This is in addition to the students served through special services we have been seeing on site since September.
Dr. Williams also shared that large strides have been made in social-emotional learning and recognized the staff at Hayes Freedom High School as leaders in this work. Last week, CHS held its first Community Connection Day where there were no classes and teachers assigned no new homework. The purpose was two-fold: this allowed students to catch up on homework while teachers connected with families via phone calls, Zoom meetings, and home visits. Middle Schools are completing their first round of proficiency-based learning, which focuses on students’ demonstration of their learning and is designed to identify and address gaps to provide equitable opportunities for every student.
Town Hall on Reopening Schools
Jeff Snell gave the board a brief recap of the November 16 Town Hall meeting on reopening our schools highlighting that the Thoughtexchange held in the days leading up to the meeting emphasized a deep appreciation for our teachers. He covered the guiding principles in our planning as well as the current challenge we face today. The good news is that we are learning from the research that transmission in schools is not as risky as originally thought. The bad news is that while we have not yet seen cases transmitted at school here in Camas, we are seeing cases in our staff and students that reflect what is happening in our community.
Snell summarized the board’s discussion about several key points in our reopening plans.
We have heard that the Department of Health will be updating the K12 decision tree based on new research. We want to be ready to implement programs based on any changes to the guidance.
For our high schools, the earliest transition to hybrid learning will now be at the semester. Given rising rates, the timing of winter break, and the end of the first semester (January 28), it makes sense to focus on the natural transition of the semester for any possible move to a hybrid learning delivery model. Elementary and middle schools are not on the same semester schedule. We will continue to monitor conditions and guidance to determine the best time to transition for these grade levels.
Moving forward, we must create opportunities for on-campus learning for all students. If the guidelines allow, we will move to hybrid as soon as possible; if the guidelines keep us largely in remote learning, we need to get creative in creating experiences for everyone. “Each student deserves an opportunity for an in-person learning experience if they want one. It might look a lot different than in years past, but it’s our responsibility to figure out how to do it in a way that follows public health guidance and supports our students.”
Would you like to see more? Agendas, supporting documents, and minutes are always posted here.
Mill Town Pride
We would love to honor a very special Helen Baller staff member who is a “fixture” at Helen Baller. Patty has been at Baller for TWENTY YEARS and has worked in our district for 21 years.
As a supervision paraprofessional, Patty is instrumental in supporting students as they learn how to communicate effectively and work/play collaboratively. She guides her team to consistently enforce expectations and encourage positivity, teamwork, and risk-taking. Patty does more than supervise students. She teaches and raises caring, active, and positive citizens.
Patty is the person who flies under the radar and works behind the scenes to make things happen. It is not uncommon to find her up to her elbows in the dirt in our garden, donating her time and working nights and weekends to tend to things that might otherwise go undone. As you can see in the attached photos, Patty takes great pride in the playground environment. She volunteered her artistic skills (AND her husband 😊) to get our playground map painted and ready for kids.
Our community is gifted with her presence and we know her impact runs far and deep. We want Camas School District and our entire community to know how much we appreciate her dedication, skill, and personal touch. Patty is our hero.
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‘Rising to the occasion,’ Camas students tackle real-world problems
If there’s one thing Camas students have learned this year, it’s that things don’t always go according to plan.
“You get pandemics. Things fail,” Bruce Whitefield, a Discovery High School engineering teacher and lead instructor of the Camas-area robotics team, said recently. “It’s how you respond that matters. Are you going to put together solutions or just stand back and let someone else fix it?”
For Discovery High students, who work toward being what their principal, Aaron Smith, likes to call “EPIC” (entrepreneurs, producers, innovators, and contributors), the answer to that question is an easy one.
“Our kids are really rising to the occasion,” Smith said. “They’re developing real-world skills and making a difference.”
(Photo credit: Kelly Moyer/Post Record)
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On November 13, Governor Jay Inslee issued a Travel Advisory indicating that persons arriving in Washington from other states or countries should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Washingtonians are encouraged to stay home or in their region and avoid non-essential travel.
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