Shared with the Corvallis School Board during the February 7, 2019 meeting
Our Commitment to Equity
February is Black History Month and I have been reflecting on our school district; both our development in support of our students of color and our work ahead.
More than two years ago, the board adopted an equity policy meant to challenge systemic barriers to access for students and families. The board then created equitable systems goals rooted in our equity policy.
As a district, we created an equity transformation action plan built on four pillars: keeping students at the center of all decisions; striving for increased family engagement and empowerment; equity-based leadership, and equity-driven practices.
To date nearly 500 staff have participated in Beyond Diversity training which provides a protocol for having conversations about race. Additionally, a team of 25 diverse high school students representing all grade levels, our two comprehensive high schools and College Hill, currently serve on the Students Advocating For Equity (SAFE) committee. They provide a student perspective on race and inclusivity in our schools.
Our District Equity Leadership Team Advisory (DELTA) group is now leading meetings with our executive team to lean into conversations on how we can improve the educational experience for our students of color.
Still there is work to be done.
Educational systems continue to perpetuate the idea of “color blindness”. It is my belief and our district’s call to action to engage in courageous conversations about race and interrupt systemic and institutionalized barriers for students and families of color. This is critical work.
We must think about race in the decisions we are making throughout our organization, ensure all learning environments are intellectually engaging, culturally responsive, socially safe and respectful of our diverse students’ cultures, languages and customs in order for every student to have voice and agency in the classroom.
While we recognize black history every February, black history is American history and should be recognized as such throughout the year.
Last month, the Oregon Department of Education released graduation rates for the 2017-18 school year. The district’s overall graduation rate for 2018 was 87%, an increase from last year’s rate of 85% and the highest rate ever in the Corvallis School District. In terms of the number of students, 515 out of 592 graduated with their 4-year cohort in 2018 compared to 489 out of 575 in 2017.
Each high school experienced improvements in their overall graduation rate with both Corvallis High (291 of 327 students) and Crescent Valley High (224 of 252 students) at 89%.
Latinx students graduated at a rate of 84% in 2017-18, up more than 7 percentage points from the previous year. An additional highlight is the success of English Learner (EL) students who achieved English proficiency prior to entering high school. These former English Learners graduated at a rate of 92%. I strongly believe that speaking a second language is an asset and I am so proud of these students.
High School Extracurriculars
In December, the Corvallis High School Chess Team placed 1st overall at the La Salle High School Yuletide Chess Tournament. Congratulations to our co-ed team of seven students, and to Coach Philip Schapker! In addition, congratulations to the Crescent Valley Science Olympiad team and advisor Malia Hee for winning 16 medals total at the Curtis Invitational in January. We wish them luck as they head to the Science Olympiad State Competition at OSU on April 6. These opportunities would not be possible without the commitment of staff and parent leaders and volunteers.
As I shared last month, we are continuing our strategic planning work with Brendle Group and they will be leading our Sustainability Summit next week on February 13 at 6 pm at the Western View Center. Everyone is invited to attend. The meeting will feature a brief presentation of the district’s activities and planning for 2019 and beyond and will include an opportunity for the community, families, and staff to provide input and ideas about the draft version of the district’s sustainability plan.
Also this month, school board members are invited to attend the February 20, CHS Solarbration hosted by the CHS Green Club to celebrate the 117 KW Solar installation at the school. This is an after school event, from 3:20-4:15 pm. This is another great example of real-world, project based learning taking place in our schools under the guidance of passionate teachers and club advisors.
Iditarod Teacher on the Trail
Speaking of extracurriculars, I am so proud of the amazing people who work in our district. I want to share the story of 5th grade Mt. View teacher Mary Lynn Roush. Mary Lynn has been selected to be a finalist for the 2020 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail. For the uninitiated, the Iditarod is a 1,000 mile dog sled race that runs from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, to celebrate a history that stretches back thousands of years.
If selected, Mary Lynn will spend a year as Teacher on the Trail during the Iditarod of 2020. She would represent teachers and students, traveling to checkpoints with the teams, and sharing her experience through interviews, photos, and blog posts. Off the trail, she would connect the year-round, global community of Iditarod Education. In Mary Lynn’s words, “I know that Iditarod engages students. I want to share rigorous, standards-based curriculum that uses the Iditarod as a ‘jumping-off’ point, and I want to go beyond academics to the heart and soul of Iditarod. I believe that the stories and themes of Iditarod teach enduring truths about courage, integrity, and purpose. My goal is to share and spread that vision.”
Mary Lynn will travel to Anchorage later this month, where she will participate in the 2019 Iditarod Educators Conference. She and the two other finalists will be interviewing and participating in activities that lead up to the start of the 2019 Iditarod, which begins March 2. Congratulations to Mary Lynn for this achievement!
Bond Program Update
I attended the kick-off Design Advisory Committee meeting last month at Garfield and last night at Hoover. I want to thank our bond team for the detailed and in-depth work that has taken place before convening the meeting at the school.
One of my favorite comments at the Garfield meeting was spoken by a Spanish speaking parent. They shared that the school is like a home away from home and their dream for the Garfield improvements includes making the building feel more welcoming to everyone that enters and to create a place where students will be excited and proud to come every day. I share that same dream and I am looking forward seeing what the architects do with the information that was gathered at these meetings. The Lincoln committee will meet later this month.
National School Counseling Week
National School Counseling Week will be celebrated from Feb. 4–8, 2019, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of professional school counselors. This week, we want to recognize our school counselors who, at every level, work to support students and their academic, social and emotional needs. School counselors provide a unique perspective to the whole child.
Corvallis School District school counselors are a stabilizing force in each school community. There are currently 25 counselors that provide student support throughout the district, building relationships of trust and helping students navigate the process of change.
School counselors develop caring relationships with students and can help connect students and their families to resources. Common issues in our schools include students and families seeking support to address school-based anxiety, family transitions including separation/divorce, bullying or conflict with other students, and behavior patterns that are problematic. Secondary school counselors also work with students who lack engagement in school and those who need guidance for post-secondary planning. Thank you to all of our dedicated counseling staff.