Last school year, at the start of the initiative, the district asked teachers and school staff at the three West Hill elementary schools to come together as a team to create individual school plans to increase student achievement. The district also asked staff to present a list of needs to the district to help support and ensure the success of those plans.
Staff worked for several weeks in teams to incorporate into their plans math labs to increase effective and differentiated math instruction; positive student discipline; and increased community and family engagement. The plans also call for additional time each week for staff to come together and discuss student outcomes and engagement, and use the information to improve teaching practices and strategies.
Before the end of the school year, staff from the three schools presented their individual plans to their families, and asked for further input. Leadership from the Renton Education Association, the teacher’s union, also reviewed the plans and enthusiastically endorsed efforts by staff at the West Hill schools to increase student achievement efforts for children and families.
In April, the district reviewed those plans and committed to funding all of the teacher’s request to improve student learning. The core components of the plans are:
- structured time for teacher collaboration in math and literacy;
- increased access and time for professional learning opportunities;
- use of data and best practices in teaching;
- ensuring that principals act as instructional leader;
- operational flexibility outside of school/district norms;
- positive school culture; and
- more meaningful family and community engagement.
Aside from the core components, Bryn Mawr Elementary will increase meetings and strategic communication with families. Campbell Hill Elementary will continue to institute the Kids at Hope model (a belief system, supported by a cultural strategy to enhance school programs) and partner with the University of Washington Teacher Education program. Lakeridge Elementary will work to continue to engage parents in better understanding of grade-level math and literacy curriculum and teaching strategies.
West Hill teachers and staff have continued to meet prior to the start of the new school year to hone plans and ideas to be implemented at their individual school to strengthen instruction and improve student achievement.
Building Blocks of West Hill Now!:
- Believe in all children
- Look for joy in the work
- Entrust and believe in the staff
- Forge a three-school planning and support team
- Extend the proven leadership of Lakeridge Elementary
- Engage the Community
- Transform the central office to a support agency for this work
- End years of talk and take action – “Dream big -- Act immediately”
Why West Hill Now!
The overarching impetus for the West Hill Now! initiative is to provide equitable outcomes to a population of students and families in the district that reside in an area outside of Renton city limits where very little economic development or quality of life improvements have taken place in many decades. West Hill Now! will work towards student achievement outcomes that enable success for all children; ensure a climate of access, opportunity and inclusion; and guarantee equitable treatment through a climate of safety, respect and support for children and adults.