Tag Archive for: Washougal Schools

Washougal, WA — When Veronica Paredes moved to the United States, she looked into becoming a teacher, and didn’t see a way for her to complete the rigorous coursework required by many teaching programs while continuing to work.  After learning about the ESD-U teacher certification program from fellow staff, she realized the flexible schedule and opportunity to use her current work experiences could open the door to becoming a teacher.

The ESD-U teacher certification program, offered in partnership with ESD 112 and Washougal School District provides a pathway to earn a teaching certificate for WSD staff with a bachelor’s degree working in a classified instructional capacity such as a paraeducator. This residency-based program offers alternative routes to teacher certification, as well as a ‘retooling’ route for currently certified teachers seeking to add an endorsement in another education specialty.

“The program supports the idea of us ‘growing our own’ teacher staff from our talented classified employee base,” said Renae McMurray, WSD Assistant Superintendent. “It provides an opportunity for staff interested in pursuing an advanced career in education, and it lets the district invest in and retain these excellent employees as they build their skills.” 

Murray added that, “The alternative routes program supports a diverse set of staff who might otherwise not be able to complete the rigorous coursework required for a teaching degree, recognizing the need for flexible schedules and opportunities to use experiences in their current position.”    

Participation in the program includes attending courses, completing field experience hours in a classroom environment setting and passing a state-required assessment. Students in ESD-U can use their regular position to fulfill a majority of the field experience requirements if the position matches the endorsement pathway. For instance, a special education paraeducator getting a special education endorsement. Certificates include endorsements in areas like English Language Learners (ELL), Reading, Special Education, and Elementary Education.

Veronica Paredes participated in ESD-U to earn a certificate in ELL and Elementary Education and is currently a Dual Language Kindergarten teacher at Hathaway Elementary.

“I had a job as an ELL Paraeducator, and the ELL teacher told me about the classes at ESD-U,” explained Paredes. “I also heard about it from a student teacher, who studied there.  After that I asked the Washougal School District and Renae McMurray gave me more information and I started getting all the documents I needed to apply.”

Paredes saw benefits to participating in the ESD-U program as opposed to other teacher certification programs.

“I think to study in ESD-U is a good opportunity,” she said. “Their class schedules are accessible when you have a full-time job. All the instructors and staff have a lot of experience. They teach and guide you.”

The admission process begins each January, with successful candidates beginning instruction during the summer. When the public school year begins, students are placed in a residency with a district while they continue ESD-U courses and training.

“It is an amazing job and now I thank all the teachers for what they do, teaching all the children,” Paredes said.

ESD-U is operated by ESD 112 and has been approved by the Professional Educator Standards Board.  ESD-U offers a variety of payment plan options to provide financial flexibility for candidates as well as scholarships.Visit www.esd112.org/esd-u/ for information on the upcoming classes for 2022-23.

Washougal WA — Washougal School District welcomed new Transportation Supervisor David Tsao on August 30, 2021.  Tsao had worked at Bainbridge Island School District since 2013 as a bus driver and, for the past four years, a driver trainer. In that role he provided administrative support as part of the Bainbridge Island Transportation Leadership Team.

Through his experience in transportation, Tsao is well versed in the challenges school bus drivers face.  

“It takes a special type of person with skills to drive a big vehicle and multitask,” Tsao explained.  “Drivers need to be constantly aware of what is going on around them in and outside of the bus and prioritize their focus.”

The physical task of driving the bus becomes a smaller concern once a driver earns their license, according to Tsao.  

“The biggest issue is the 40-50 children they are responsible for,” he said. “They are precious cargo!  And the best drivers have compassion for kids.  They can connect and relate to each of them even with the variety of family environments kids come from.  Once they leave their home, our bus drivers are the first adult they see before school and the last one after.”

Prior to working with the Bainbridge School District, Tsao had extensive experience in business and financial management during his first career in construction and facilities/property management and real estate development. He established long standing relationships with national retailers, local commercial clients, and local government agencies.

Tsao was responsible for all financial and operational aspects of a construction management business, establishing operational overhead budgets and revenue goals with senior management staff. He was responsible for overseeing payroll for nearly 200 employees and actively involved in recruiting, hiring and supervising staff as well as involved in continuing education, personal accountability, and staff development with outside consulting firms.

“My philosophy when working with one employee or a group of employees, is we need to work as a team to get the job done,” he explained.  “We may have different roles, with some in a union and others in management, but we need to keep in mind that we are all working toward the same goal and to find a common solution.”

Tsao received his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Washington. He is a Washington State Certified Bus Driver and Trainer and a Washington State Department of License Class B CDL Trainer. He is also fluent in Mandarin Chinese and hopes that he will be able to support our students and families if an opportunity arises.

Tsao was drawn to the area due to its proximity to the Columbia River Gorge and Portland. “I am excited to be in Washougal,” he said. “I wanted to find a place to work that could use my expertise and experience.  Bainbridge is actually a larger district, but Washougal has a larger Transportation Department.  I am looking forward to taking on that challenge.”

Washougal, WA — With a generous Camas Washougal Community Chest grant and donations from The General Federation of Women’s Clubs Camas-Washougal (GFWC-CW), Washougal School District Early Learning is able to provide “Summer Learning, Summer Fun” packets to pre-K students entering kindergarten this Fall.

These packets include a “Get Ready for Kindergarten” workbook, two new books, and “Kindergarten Readiness Guidelines” for parents. 

The workbook is filled with skill areas such as letters, numbers, reading, writing, and math.  If the workbook is completed before the first day of school on August 31st, the student will receive an additional three new books.

The “Kindergarten Readiness Guidelines” outline the various skills a student should have when entering kindergarten to support their success. The guidelines encompass physical, social/emotional, language, literacy, math, and cognitive skills.  Parents can indicate if “Yes, my child can do this” or “We are working on this.”  

It provides a template for parents as they prepare their students for a smooth and confident transition to kindergarten.

At the end of the school year, Washougal pre-K students in the Washougal Community Education Preschools, ECEAP, and EOCF (Head Start) programs received packets at their preschool graduation.  Outreach continues so all pre-K families have the opportunity to participate in this summer learning. Over 125 packets are planned for distribution.

“Our goal is to reach every Washougal student that will benefit from this summer learning packet,” according to Lisa Young, Washougal School District Extended Learning Manager. “The generosity of the Community Chest and GFWC-CW is unparalleled. They fully understand the importance of ongoing learning opportunities for our youngest learners. As a community, we are fortunate to benefit from their sustained care and commitment of resources to education.”

Washougal, WA — About 60 local parents held a rally Tuesday night calling for open meetings with Washougal School District administration and the school board to more readily discuss curriculum issues, equity programs, sexual education, and Critical Race Theory, as well as mask mandates.

Here’s the full video report featuring an interview with Patricia Bellamy, a parent who was not permitted to return to Washougal School Board meetings: https://youtu.be/72q6Ru6Y45g

She explains what happened a few weeks ago and said more than 70 grievances have been filed against Washougal Schools, and is calling for face-to-face meeting with school leaders. She said if they don’t accommodate these meetings and hear parents they will call for the resignation or start a legal process to remove administration leaders from office.

Washougal School District responded with this statement: 

“When the state of emergency was declared in the state of Washington last year, the normal Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) rules for in-person meetings were suspended, and school boards, along with other organizations, were required to meet via Zoom.  The governor modified this rule in early 2021, to allow boards to choose to hold in-person meetings, but only if they’re able to meet certain safety requirements. 

“Our board started meeting in person in February, and was pleased that patrons wishing to address the board and listen to the board’s meetings were following the required safety measures.  After the May 11 meeting, when a very small group of patrons refused to comply with posted and required safety measures, the board indicated that they will meet via Zoom, with no one attending in-person, for the until further notice.  This is specifically allowable under the Open Public Meetings Act as amended by the Governor’s Emergency Proclamation 20-05 and the OPMA changes in 20-25 and as amended in 20-28.14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  You can find some information from the Washington State School Directors Association on this topic, which outlines the legal parameters for board meetings at this time. 

“Moving back to the virtual meetings will support meeting the safety restrictions currently in place in Phase 3 for public gatherings. Once the COVID health restrictions/requirements are lifted per OPMA, and it is safe to do so, we look forward to returning to our in-person meetings.  Because we don’t know the timing of the changes in the restrictions and requirements, this could happen at any time.  

“The meeting location and ways the public can participate in the board’s meeting are posted ahead of each meeting, and we would encourage patrons and community members to watch for updates on the board meeting page. 

“As it relates to masks, we are following the guidelines from the Department of Health for K-12 schools, and from Labor and Industries which apply to our employees.  You can find the relevant information for schools here: 

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/FallGuidanceK-12.pdf  (see page 11 for the Mask information)

“For employees, the Labor and Industries requirements on page 5 states: ‘Cloth face coverings must be worn by every employee not working alone on the job site unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection under L&I safety and health rules and guidance.’”

Camas, WA – The Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Riverview Community Bank, names Taylor Greenberg of Washougal High School and Joey Stanley of Camas High School as this year’s recipients of the Camas/Washougal Chamber College Scholarships. They were selected for their dedication to academics, extra curricular activities, sports, volunteerism, and community involvement.

On Wednesday, June 2nd the scholarship recipients will be honored along with the Businessperson of the Year: Marquita Call, Camas Gallery; and the Citizen of the Year: Doug Quinn at the Annual Award Banquet at Camas Meadows Golf Club. Teachers of the Year from Camas and Washougal will also be honored at the banquet. Social hour begins at 5:30, with dinner being served at 6:30 pm.


Greenberg is graduating from Washougal High School and plans on attending Whitworth University pursuing a major in Elementary Education and ultimately obtaining a Master’s degree in Education Administration.  Greenberg’s positive experience at Camas Schools and Washougal Schools helped her develop a sense of community and love for education.  She recognizes the importance of dedicated teachers and the true impacts that they have on their students’ lives. Her goal in life is to make a difference and change the world.  She wants to teach kids in the Camas-Washougal community how to thrive both educationally and in life.  She enjoys golf, basketball and dance.  


Joey is graduating from Camas High School and plans on attending John Hopkins University pursuing a degree in Environmental Engineering. Stanley is a self-starting, diligent, creative problem-solver who is courteous and trustworthy.  He is logical, mathematical, and physically capable.  He values promptness, collaboration and is steady under pressure.  Stanley serves at the Camas High School ASB government treasurer.  He received the WoHoLo Award the highest award earned in Campfire USA (similar to the Eagle Scout award).  His Science Olympiad team placed first in regionals in 2018, 2019, 2020 and first in state 2018; second in state 2019. Stanley plays the flute, piano, and is an active fly fisherman involved with Clark Skamania Flyfishers Club. 

Washougal, WA — A recent Camas-Washougal Community Chest grant will support Washougal School District efforts to address historical, systemic inequalities for students with disabilities. The CWCC funds will provide the community with on-demand viewing access of the award-winning documentary Hearts of Glass on June 2-12, 2021.  This will be the first showing of the movie promoted in Washington State. 

This 2018 film follows the initial months of operation of Vertical Harvest, a state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse that grows crops while providing meaningful, competitively paid jobs for people with disabilities working alongside people without disabilities.  

“Our goal is to bring awareness of the needs for competitive employment opportunities within our community for young adults with disabilities,” said Jessica Nickels Washougal Adult Transition Program Teacher.

A follow up webinar discussion panel will also be presented on June 9, featuring a Washougal community member, former WSD student, and the films’ cast and crew.  

“The discussion aims to create awareness of the benefits of hiring people with disabilities from the perspective of the individual and the employers,” said Nickels.  “This conversation and collaboration between the school district and community will also help improve employment outcomes for these young workers.”

“Our goal is for the film and webinar to provide a platform to advocate for greater inclusion of individuals of differing abilities into all aspects of our community,” explained Heather Kassel, WSD ELA/EdTech Instructional Coach. “The discussion around the film is meant to serve as a catalyst for change and the creation of new partnerships between local businesses and the school district.”

“This film shows that innovation and inclusion can go hand-in-hand, benefiting citizens with disabilities and the community at large,” said filmmaker Jennifer Tennican in a press release.

“Our vision with this project is to align with the Washougal School District’s mission to Know, Nurture, and Challenge ALL students to rise,” said Kassel.  “The district strives to promote equitable educational opportunities for all students, and this film provides a model of what is possible.”

“It is our task as a school district to prepare students for successful post-secondary outcomes,” said Nickels. “It is our task as a community to recognize individual’s abilities and to work toward equitable inclusion into social and economic aspects of our community.”

Find the movie during the June 2-12 view period on the WSD website. The trailer can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuBSMUZa8wQ. For additional information about this film, please visit https://www.heartsofglassfilm.com/

Washougal, WA — Students are filling the classrooms, hallways, and playgrounds of Washougal schools after nearly a year away.  However, approximately 200 students were already meeting in school buildings in small groups one to four days a week since September 2020 for personalized education.

“These learners needed specialized instruction that could not be offered effectively with distance learning,” said Penny Andrews, WSD Director of Special Education.  “Some students had formal Individual Education Plans (IEP), while others either were not able to connect to the internet or not successfully learn online. Our staff worked hard to bring in as many students as possible to support them with their learning goals, their assignments and even some tutoring thrown in there.” 

Noah Dentler, a six-grade student at Canyon Creek Middle School, is an example of the significant progress these students were able to make during the pandemic.  “He is a student that has really blossomed in small groups with in-person-learning,” said CCMS teacher Katherine Baxter.  “The small group offered him a lot of one-on-one support. Now that we are in hybrid, he is flourishing. He is loving school and has a great attitude. He is more focused than he was at the beginning of the year.” 

“It was hard with everything online,” Noah explained.  “Now I feel more confident in my regular classes and I am working hard to keep up on all of my work.”

“The end of last year was rough… really rough, with the sudden move to online learning,” said his mother, Anni Dentler.  “It was so stressful for him that I took him out of the school.  The start of this year was also difficult, with the change to a middle school schedule with more teachers teaching different subjects.” But thanks to the improved communication between parents and teachers, development of a plan and small group instruction, Noah is doing much better now.” 

“Noah started out in the small groups as quiet and shy,” said Baxter.  “He would appear alert, focused and on task, but he was struggling and never let anyone know. His missing work was growing, but now we have a plan in place to work with the paras that helped him get caught up and keep him caught up.” 

“He now only has five missing assignments,” said Anni Dentler.  “And that is such an improvement. I’m proud of him.” 

The small groups allowed Baxter and the para educators to really get to know the students like Noah. “With the first two hours of study hall and Asynch learning, we were able to see what they know and how they learn,” she explained.  “The paras and I were able to see them in all their classes and how they focus and teach them how to start on assignments, to ask questions and advocate for themselves.”

With the move to hybrid learning, Noah and others continue the small group instruction two or three days a week as well as attend school on their regular days with peers.

“This 1:1 teacher support is important to providing them a focus on their learning goals to prevent them from losing ground,” said Andrews. “We have also had an increase of communication with families as teachers develop support plans to meet the needs of each individual student and family.”

“The communications between me and Noah’s teachers have tremendously improved,” Anni Dentler said.  “We have created a bond as we work together to help him.”

“Just the time of letting Noah know how much we all care for him and for him to be successful plus coaching from home, he began advocating for himself and asking clarifying questions,” Baxter said. “He has such a great support system at home that keeps us updated on things there or how he was doing.” 

“We have a number of ways our teachers are working to support students with special needs or IEPs at this time,” said Andrews. Those supports include: joining students in their class Zoom sessions, zooming with them to offer tutoring on assignments and learning goals, advocating for more time in person when students were struggling, request home visits from school personnel when students struggle with attendance, holding group sessions for students to work on collaboration and social goals, helping students access their classroom zoom meetings and assignments while at school, helping students stay organized and working proactively with families to offer assistance. I am proud of our entire special education staff in Washougal. And, by watching the work that Katherine is doing, and how she advocates for students, I can see she feels strongly that students do best when there is a human connection and when the students know that they have an adult who is cheering them on and supporting them.” 

“It is nice to see a child come out of their shell and go out of their way to learn all they can and to be successful,” said Baxter. “Noah is that student. He is a hard worker and has managed to persevere through this time to stay on track.” 

Washougal, WA — The successful Washougal School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) program focuses on providing students with real world experiences led by knowledgeable, passionate staff.  The newest addition to that staff is Alexandra Yost, Washougal’s first CTE Professional Technical Assistant or Pro Tech, for short. 

“We are delighted that Alex is bringing her extensive business and culinary background to the team,” said Margaret Rice, WSD CTE Director.  Yost is the former owner and chef of OurBar in downtown Washougal and is currently a member of the Washougal City Council. She is also very politically active in the area, and frequently attends and organizes local Black Lives Matter (BLM) rallies condemning police violence while calling for racial equality and justice. She has also advocated for defunding the Washougal police.

“Alex’s focus along with supporting CTE teachers will be managing two new, exciting CTE educational opportunities that feature project-based learning,” said Rice. “One is the development of a CTE operated food truck and the second is implementation of a Green Schools Program to our high school in collaboration with WSD Culinary Services.”

In spring 2020, a food truck was purchased by the WSD CTE Department with the goal to create a student-led food truck business.  “This truck will literally be a vehicle for learning,” said Rice.  “Literally!  It is also an extension of our professional kitchen facility in the Excelsior Building at WHS.”

The learning around the food truck is expected to reach far beyond the development of food plans and food service. 

“WHS students will participate in all aspects of the project development,” explained Yost.  “Students will work on a business plan, learn about health department rules, navigate through local permitting and licensing, develop manuals for training and safety and even the creation of marketing.  There will also be opportunities in manufacturing, welding, small engine service/repair and maintenance for students interested in those CTE experiences.”

When operational, the food truck will be available for hire to serve the community at events and will be student led.  Yost is developing a team of mentors to counsel students in this project work.

“We want as many aspects of the food truck as we can to be project-based and student led/created so the first step is a contest to develop a name and will be open to all students of WSD,” explained Rice. “The name should be representative of our community, perhaps with some derivative Washougal.  It needs to be appropriate for all ages, be catchy and not already copyrighted.” 

The contest process is in the works and will be announced soon and run through February 26. Details can be found on the Washougal School District website at http://www.washougal.k12.wa.us/cte/food-truck/.  The next student contest will be to design the artwork to adorn the truck.

Yost is also tasked with development of a CTE Green Team.  This effort will bring education, sustainability, and reduced carbon footprint to the WSD High School Culinary Services department, which became self-operated over the summer.

“A major aspect of that transition has been the move to scratch production of meals,” said Rice. “With that change it was also the right time to bring the Green Schools concept to the high school.  Our students have been sorting and recycling food waste and trash in our elementary and middle schools for some time. The high school program will provide an opportunity for students to continue these efforts.”

“Ultimately we want to take this Green Team experience and education down to the classroom level as well as eventually developing a Green Ambassadors program in which students are driving the program forward leading a sustainable program that can be passed on for years to come,” said Yost.

This environmentally focused program sits firmly in WSD’s mission pillars of sustainability and stewardship of resources, partnerships to support students, educational engagement, and equity to include all students. The goal is to involve students to significantly reduce our carbon footprint and contributions to the landfill while taking these experiences forward in life.  Their efforts also help to save District operational funds by reducing waste and disposal costs.  

“The program also brings in aspects of our career and college readiness by introducing students to companies such as Waste Connections,” said Rice.  “They will see various elements of career opportunities they may not have realized existed. In a time when it seems like everything is changing and nothing is ‘normal’, we are trying to take every opportunity to teach our students how to learn from change, collaborate and adapt to find efficiencies in the ‘new’ so we can continually improve the current situation.”

Washougal, WA — The roles of Washougal School District School Counselors have been altered during the pandemic, in the sense that the journey has changed, but not the destination. Their goal remains to build relationships with all students and families and provide children an outlet to be seen and heard.

“During a typical school year, I am able to see my students at any point throughout a school day, which makes it much easier to have quick check-ins, help problem solve in the moment, and to help students de-escalate and be in a state where they are ready to learn and engage with others,” explained Alysia Noriega, Hathaway Elementary School Counselor. “During remote learning, this is obviously much more difficult to do. While I am still able to connect with my students through many different means such as whole classroom lessons, small groups, and one-on-one, it takes much more coordination between myself, the student, and their families to make it happen.”

“Weekly lessons in social emotional learning are important at any time,” said Catherine Post, Gause Elementary School Counselor. “Right now, they are especially important because of the situation we are in. The lessons provide tools for students to utilize when they are struggling with our current schooling situation. These skills will also be of value when we are able to continue with in person learning again.”

It is important that every Washougal student has someone they feel comfortable with and can turn to in times of need. 

“By having these weekly lessons, I am guaranteed time with all my students,” said Noriega. “I can focus on continuing to build on the relationships I have already established with them, as well as develop relationships with our new Hathaway kiddos.” 

Additionally, it is important for students to spend time building social/emotional skills and language. Having a designated time each week to come together as a whole grade level and learn more about themselves and each other provides an enriching opportunity. 

“Because the students don’t have recess and other outlets for interacting with their peers, my lessons are a combination of check-in time to hear what everyone is doing and excited about, lessons from the district approved social emotional curriculum of Second Steps, and extra videos and games that apply to those lessons,” said Post. “The 30-minute sessions with each grade are very organic in feel. Each grade may need something different on any given day, so I remain flexible to let them have more or less of any of the lesson parts depending on how things go.”


Noriega has a similar approach. 

“I have been able to do a variety of different lessons and activities with my students, and the focus of these lessons vary from week to week, and from grade level to grade level,” she explained. “Topics we have covered this year include coping strategies, problem solving, emotion regulation skills, growth mindset, friendship building, and bullying prevention.” To keep students engaged, Noriega keeps things as interactive and fun as possible, and often incorporates videos, games, drawing activities, read-alouds, and activities that allow them to move.

“This year has brought on a host of different challenges that we didn’t know we would have to endure,” admits Noriega. “I believe one of students’ greatest challenges during this time is not having access to a learning environment that is consistent and structured. As a parent myself, I know how difficult it can be to balance my own work while also helping my kids with their schooling.”

For students to fully engage with their work and get the most out of their school days, it is helpful for them to have a consistent routine, be in a place that is free of distractions, and to be spending an adequate amount of time each day working on academic-related activities. However, it can be difficult for some families to create this kind of environment at home, which can create challenges for our students’ success.

Amongst all the obstacles that this year has brought, Post and Noriega have been able to do their job in a meaningful, successful way. “One main area of success is that I have been able to build strong, positive, and unique relationships with all of my Hathaway students,” said Noriega.  “I have been able to do this not only through my weekly SEL zoom lessons, but also by hosting small lunch groups, working with students 1:1, doing home visits, and delivering personalized notes to students.” 

“This year I have seen success in getting students with barriers to connect with their teachers,” added Post. “I have seen kindergarteners learn how to be students. I have also worked with staff and talked with them about tools to help with their emotional health because we cannot help our students if we do not take care of ourselves. Our Gause students know we care about them, and that is the best feeling of success.”

Washougal, WA — Remote learning has been a challenge to navigate for all students, teachers and administrator, but for two first-year teachers at Washougal High School, the challenge comes as they begin their careers in education.  

Jered Barker, WHS 9th and 10th Grade Algebra/Geometry teacher said his biggest challenge has been to build a relationship with students.

“Relationships are the key to any successful classroom and in the virtual world it has become increasingly difficult,” he said. “Students rarely have their cameras on, so I don’t even know what some of my students look like outside of one picture in their Skyward account. I love building relationships with my students so I have done the best I can with what they will give me.”

Elise Piet, WHS 9th Grade English and 10th Grade World History agrees. 

“It is difficult to get to know my students and their needs,” she said. “I have to help my Freshmen navigate high school and the demands of it, without them ever having set foot in the building.”

Both Barker and Piet use conversation starters in their ZOOM classrooms to help develop connections.

“I spend time every class talking with the students about their interests, things that have happened to them,” explained Piet. “The time I spend getting to know the students has paid off ten-fold as they are more likely to come to class, engage, and feel valued in my classroom.”

Barker starts his class with a silly question that has nothing to do with academics.

“The goal is to get the students talking to me and to each other,” he said. “This has built a sense of community in our classroom. I get to learn what they like and dislike and interesting facts about each student.”

Barker came prepared for the distance teaching having attended Western Governors University, which is a completely online University.

“All my classes were taught using a webcam with a teacher sometimes I never even saw,” he said. “All the work was left up to me to complete at my own leisure, so I know how the students are feeling because this type of learning involves a lot of self-motivation to get work done.”

Piet attended Washington State University Vancouver, and her program focused a great deal on restorative practices. 

“That relationship building aspect has helped me navigate classroom management and community and culture,” she explained.  “I also took a Technology in the Classroom course that has helped me navigate online learning, so I am able to better help my students when they have questions with tech.”

“For both of these educators; the first year of teaching is a scary and tumultuous time,” said Sheree Clark, WHS Principal. “The fact that they were not only willing but excited to start their first year of teaching during a pandemic, speaks to their dedication as educators.” 

Clark has heard feedback from both parents and students that Piet’s class is engaging and the students feel truly cared for.

“Elise also has a way of making history come alive and connect it to current world issues,” said Clark. “And Jered brings with him an energy that engages students yet challenges their math thinking skills. He has taken bold technical steps by using multiple platforms to help students engage during remote learning.  We are delighted Jared and Elise are both Panthers!”

Piet said she feels students are much kinder to not only their peers, but to themselves, which is a positive result of remote learning.

“They have really stepped up to the plate and are trying to help each other get through this,” she said. “Not just in my classroom, but district-wide students are volunteering, helping out, sending virtual hugs, and checking in with each other.”

An unexpected positive for Barker has been having more time at home with his newborn daughter. 

“It has been a blessing to get to work from home and see my daughter all day and help my wife out by changing diapers in between lessons,” he said. “It has not been easy or the first year that I expected but I am grateful to have a job and work with an amazing staff,” Barker admits. “I know going forward this will only make me a better teacher because I have learned new ways of teaching that I never would have thought of without the distance learning. I cannot wait to get into my classroom and see my students, some for the first time!”

Jered Barker, WHS 9th and 10th Grade Algebra/Geometry teacher.