Washougal, WA — Jemtegaard Middle School (JMS) is the recipient of the 2019 Whole Child Award chosen by the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. The Whole Child Award acknowledges and honors a school that makes significant contributions to student learning by creating a school culture with programs that exemplify two or more of the five tenets of The Whole Child Initiative: Healthy, Safe, Engaged, Supported, and Challenged; as well as serve as models for all educators across the state.  

“Our staff can think of no bigger honor than to be recognized for striving to meet the many needs of our kids,” said JMS Principal, David Cooke. “It takes a lot of work, but the results are worth it.”

JMS received their award at a school assembly on Wednesday, May 8, as well as a check for $500, sponsored by SHAPE Washington. 

“Equity and meeting the needs of the Whole Child is what drives the work of administrators, teachers, staff and community members at JMS,” said Cooke.  “We continue to listen and learn from our students so that we can improve to give each one the best chance of success. We focus strongly on equity and supporting the Whole Child.”  

Sustainable support protocol

JMS has a sustainable Student Support Protocol to foster a positive working relationship with peers and teachers for students to feel safe and supported in the classroom. Their Student Support Flowchart works to eliminate disruptive and/or off task behavior that can be damaging to the relationship between the student and teacher.

“Our primary process goals are to keep students in the learning environment as long as possible, allow teachers to keep teaching, even following problem behavior, and provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their behavior and have a voice in the refocus process,” Cooke said.

“The most effective way for students to learn is to be in the classroom with a quality teacher every day,” said Cooke. “With this new student support process, out of class time was reduced to five minutes for minor issues and up to 20 minutes for major issues for the majority of discipline referrals.”

As a result, this method is showing results with an 80 percent drop in disciplinary referrals this year, minimal suspensions and a high approval rating from staff. Many students with prior disciplinary referrals last school year are having minimal discipline concerns now. 

Restorative practices

Restorative practices also play an integral role in repairing relationships and restoring safety after bullying occurs.

“Traditionally, bullies were punished through exclusionary discipline,” said Cooke. “At JMS, we use restorative practices to bring all parties together so that the victim and family can explain how the bullying has impacted them and what they need from the student doing the bullying in order to feel safe.”

Their findings show that in 100 percent of bullying cases this year, with clear expectations and procedures for Restorative Circles used, none of the students violate the conditions after the meeting or continued bullying at JMS. Parents and guardians also appreciate the opportunity to meet each other and support all students.

“There are many people who support our mission including parents, community and educators across the district,” Cooke said. “As a team we have created a school that our students, staff and community can be proud of.”

Club 8 for students

An example of this teamwork is the Club 8 after-school program that helps keep students engaged in additional learning opportunities including arts, science, leadership activities, and more. The program is two years old and meets on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The name represents an 8th period of the school day for learning.

“The goal of this program is to address an equity issue related to lack of extracurricular opportunities for students on free and reduced lunch who don’t have access to transportation,” Cooke said.

Club 8 not only provides a bus ride home to remove the transportation barrier but provides all students an afternoon snack. The program regularly has around 90 students in attendance for a school just over 500 (not including 7th and 8th grade athletics with 40-70 students per season.) The list of Club 8 opportunities continues to grow along with community support.

Community service with students

Adding to the positive culture of JMS, the entire student body works on community service projects. Students pick the project that interests them the most which includes building bird houses for local parks, making animal toys for a local shelter, creating positive posters to hang on the hall walls, and helping run games at the elementary school recess and more. 

“I’m proud of the hard work the Jemtegaard school staff and community does to educate the whole child,” said WSD Superintendent, Dr. Mary Templeton. “They have embarked on a journey to shift the culture of the school, focusing on identifying ways students may fall through the cracks, and ways in which they can provide resources to keep students engaged in learning, encourage safe choices, and provide students with the problem solving skills to succeed in the classroom and beyond.” 

Founded in 1956, as Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, now known as Washington State ASCD, is a community of all educators committed to promoting promising practices to ensure ALL students are safe, healthy, engaged, supported and challenged.

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