Frankly Speaking . . .
As we complete the 2013-14 school year, we once again reflect on our past to prepare for our future. We celebrate our successes, we learn from our mistakes, and we squarely face our challenges. We are living in a global economy that requires our students to be prepared to think both critically and creatively, evaluate massive amounts of information, solve complex problems, and communicate well. A strong foundation in reading, writing, math, science, social studies and other core subjects is still as important as ever, yet by itself is insufficient for lifelong success. We need to provide a more balanced approach to our children’s education and the measures used to determine their success and progress. I am pleased to report to our greater community that our aspirations for the children of Franklin Pierce Schools are becoming realities as a result of your assistance and support combined with an incredibly hardworking staff.
All components of our District Improvement Plan have been fully implemented and are ongoing, including our initiatives in professional learning communities (PLC), response to intervention (RTI) or multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), Working on the Work (WOW), instructional norms, early learning, and family and community involvement. We have continued to strengthen our core instructional programs, conducted more sophisticated collaboration with the analysis of student work, made instructional decisions based on appropriate data, and expanded the use of research-based interventions for extended learning. We have been implementing the common core state standards (CCSS) and the new teacher and principal evaluation process (TPEP). We have had significant growth in our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) offerings for students at all levels (elementary, middle, and high school) including programs in aerospace composites, flight, biomedical, robotics, and applied physics (Project Lead the Way). We have expanded our dual credit opportunities, articulation agreements with higher education institutions, and formal business/school partnerships.
Many of the positive additions we brought forth last year have expanded, flourished, and are becoming part of our district culture and manner of doing business. Such things would include: the addition of 10 more National Board Certified Teachers, bringing our total to 64; deepening the work of our Instructional Coaches (ICs) at the elementary schools and the academic assistant principals at the secondary schools; expanding the Linkages Program that connects our Head Start Program and kindergarten teachers; enhancing our formal partnerships with local daycare providers; the Special Education Advisory Committee; the District Improvement Planning Team; the exceptional work of our Public Relations/Public Information Officer; the development of our new website (which should “go live” this summer); continuous improvement of our quarterly district publication, The Views; expanding our partnerships with higher education institutions (e.g., PLU and UWT); expanding our fiber optic broadband network and WiFi access points; increasing the number and capabilities of our security cameras; and adding digital radios to every building for emergency response. Each of these has contributed greatly to improving our customer service, involving parents and community members, keeping our kids safe, protecting our facilities, and addressing our academic achievement gaps.
Our efforts to reach the “whole” child are being realized through strong programs in music, art, drama, leadership, athletics and responsive services. Our Navigation 101 program continues to evolve and flourish. The parent response to the K-12 student-led conferences continues to be overwhelmingly positive. The FP Foundation voted to fund twelve $1,000 scholarships for our “distinguished” portfolio presentations of 2014 graduates. We continue to seek and apply for grants that assist us in providing the various “wraparound” services our children and families need. We will continue to strengthen our efforts in ensuring our students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. As a Board and Administration, we have collaborated to be good stewards of our public’s funds and facilities. Once again, we received clean audits for both state and federal programs, and the initial projects of our capital improvements levy are well underway.
We have significantly increased our on-time graduation rates at all our high schools (93% at FPHS and 87% at WHS). We have more students enrolled in Advance Placement (AP) courses than we ever have. Our attendance rates are up and suspension rates are down. We had six of our schools receive Washington State Achievement Awards, three elementary schools received the first ever State Board of Education English Language Acquisition Award, one school designated a WA Rewards School for high academic progress, one high schooldesignated as a STEM Lighthouse School, and a high school and middle school recognized with the WA 2014 Career Guidance Award of Excellence. Our Board of Directors was once again designated by the WA State School Directors Association as a “Board of Distinction” for the fourth year in a row. Our Air Force JROTC once again competed at the national level. We had two students from WHS selected as WA Scholars, two Act Six Scholars (one from FPHS and one from WHS), and awards, too numerous to mention here, in athletics, music, and the performing arts.
It has been another fulfilling and challenging year, and I would not want to be anywhere else or doing anything else. We have a caring and committed staff that serves our community on a “mission” level. Please note the amazing work that is taking place in our school district and take pride in the knowledge that all of you who are reading this have helped make it happen. My commitment, loyalty, and passion to provide our FPS children with the best educational opportunity possible are unwavering. Our challenges remain, but our future focus is positive as we instill hope in our students and make every effort to make their dreams come true. Their success is our success. We look forward to the excitement and opportunities of the 2014-15 school year that is just around the corner and to working closely with you and your children as we strive to reach our preferred future.
Have a safe and pleasant summer, and I’ll be seeing you around the district!