Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - January 24, 2020

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories

School Board Recognition Month

January is School Board Recognition Month. Tuesday night Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith honored board members for their service. He noted the significant hours they volunteer at meetings, serving on committees and speaking on behalf of the district. School directors play a crucial role in promoting student learning and achievement by creating a vision, establishing policies and budgets and setting clear standards of accountability.

Survey results indicate district heading in the right direction

Walla Walla Public Schools’ officials are celebrating results of the 2019-2020 school year parent, student, staff and community perception surveys which revealed strong support for the school district. This is the third consecutive year the district has conducted comprehensive stakeholder surveys as it seeks to gain feedback and monitor Strategic Plan progress.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our results, growth, and hard work that reveal remarkable feedback from students, parents, and faculty alike,” said Superintendent Smith. “Results also revealed strong support from the community as we work in partnership to provide a first-class education for our students.”

Two survey mechanisms were used again this school year. The Educational Effectiveness survey was completed by staff, students and parents. This anonymous survey tool is administered to more than 1,000 schools across the nation allowing the district to compare its feedback against nationwide averages in addition to benchmarking performance against high performing schools considered “Schools of Distinction.” More than 3000 Walla Walla Public Schools students (grades 4-12), 90% of the K-12 building-level certificated and classified staff, and nearly 900 parents completed the survey.

Community members at-large participated in a statistically reliable telephone survey. A total of 300 randomly selected citizens participated in this survey to help school officials learn the public’s perceptions of the district.

“By conducting annual perception surveys with our stakeholders we can monitor long-term trends, look for areas of celebration, develop plans to shore up potential areas for improvement, and most importantly, monitor the critical areas of our strategic plan,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “Strategic Plan areas we are especially tuned in to include measuring school culture indicators around staff collaboration, aligned and coherent systems, social emotional supports for students and student safety/belonging.”

District officials were elated that results from students, staff and parents not only exceeded nationwide averages, but in most cases outperformed nationwide Schools of Distinction. In addition, public feedback at large continued to reinforce that an overwhelming majority of the community holds Walla Walla Schools in high regard.

Below are the survey results at a glance. Visit the WWPS website and select the Strategic Plan tab to see a comprehensive report of all results.

Educational Effectiveness Survey Results Summary

Staff Results:
• “Collaboration and Communication” and ”Effective Leadership” are both 13% above Schools of Distinction
• “Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment” is 20% above Schools of Distinction
• “Cultural Responsiveness” is nearly 30% above Schools of Distinction
• “Districtwide/District Office Support” is 23% above Schools of Distinction

Student Results:
• Student results are well above national averages and are at, or above, Schools of Distinction in almost every category
• Student feedback on “Safety and Bullying” is above Schools of Distinction and 8% higher than nationwide schools
• Student feedback on ”Diversity and Cultural Competency” is at Schools of Distinction levels

Parent Results:
• Parent results met or exceeded Schools of Distinction in every single category
• Most notably, WWPS parents relayed strong support for building leadership, noted that they felt engaged with their child’s school (collaboration category) and felt informed about their child’s progress and keeping up to date.

Community Telephone Survey Results Summary:
Of survey respondents with an opinion,
• 84% gave WWPS a positive performance rating (up 10% in three years)
• 89% would recommend WWPS to others
• 80% believe WWPS is on the right track
• 76% believe WWPS uses tax dollars wisely
• 81% believe WWPS is open/transparent

“Thank you again to our community, staff, parents and students for providing this feedback, a critical component necessary in helping WWPS realize its vision of Developing Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates,” said Superintendent Smith.

District names Foster for Edison Elementary School Principal position

Walla Walla Public Schools announces Jennifer Foster has been named principal of Edison Elementary School following an extensive applicant screening and interview process. The selection process included parent and staff meet and greet sessions, classroom observations, a formal interview and extensive reference checks. Foster will replace Interim Principal Joel Chavez who was appointed for the short-term following Dr. Julie Perron’s promotion to the district’s Director of Equity and Dual Programs. Edison Elementary is the district’s magnet Dual Language school serving students from throughout the Walla Walla community.

“I couldn’t be more excited about joining the Edison Elementary staff and becoming part of the Walla Walla community,” said Foster. “I was impressed by the leadership team, elementary staff, students, and parent involvement throughout the interview process. The moment I walked into Edison Elementary I knew it was special. The positive interactions in the classroom, the enthusiasm for teaching and learning, and a love for students was evident everywhere. I am honored to be Edison’s new principal and look forward to our new chapter as a staff and school community.”

Foster, who is bilingual, currently serves as the associate principal at Mercer Island High School, where she participates on the building and district leadership teams, instructional coaching committee, and district instructional materials selection committee. She received her administrative degree from the Danforth Leadership Program at the University of Washington. Prior to entering administration, she worked for 12 years in the Snoqualmie Valley School District where she served as a secondary instructional coach for grades 6-12 as well as teacher and department chair for the Mount Si High School World Language Department. She has also worked as an adjunct instructor at Oregon State University, instructing and supervising student teachers and teaching college-level Spanish, led nearly a dozen student travel groups to Mexico, Costa Rica and Peru, and completed the Margins Social Justice Immersion Program in Los Angeles, CA.

Foster will spend a few days this spring at Edison getting to know the students, staff and school community. She will report to her new position July 1.

Replacement Levy information

Ballots for the proposed Replacement Education Levy mailed out to voters this week. Visit the district’s website for all the details – https://www.wwps.org/levy

Levy Facts

Q: When is the election?
A: Ballots mailed out to voters this week and must be postmarked by election day (February 11).

Q: Didn’t we just pass a levy last November?
A: No. That was a school construction bond. Remember that bonds are for buildings, and levies are for learning. Bonds can only pay for school facility improvements. Levies must be renewed every 4 years by law, and pay for educational and program opportunities the state’s basic education program doesn’t provide.

Q: What will this learning levy do to my tax rates?
A: Tax rates will not go up. This is a replacement levy. The $2.50/$1,000 proposed rate replaces the expiring 2016 levy, and maintains the current tax rate we are paying now, through 2024.

Q: What does the levy pay for?
A: Levies pay for programs and learning opportunities the state basic education program doesn’t fund. In Walla Walla, this funds about 1 in every 5 employees. For example, the levy pays for every Honors/AP teacher, in addition to music, fine arts, drama, PE, and many other elective teachers the state prototypical model does not fund. It provides for approximately 13 school health clinicians, 16 intervention specialists, 13 classroom/kindergarten assistants, 11 custodians, 6 school safety officers, additional front office staff, 6 technology staff, and 10 facilities/maintenance employees. In addition, it pays for our entire extra-curricular program, supplementary pay for staff, employee professional development, additional classroom supplies, the bulk of our classroom technology, and additional special education programs/staff.

Q: How long has Walla Walla maintained this “learning levy”?
A: This “learning levy” has been in place for over 50 consecutive years in Walla Walla.

Q: Do most districts have levies?
A: Levies are in place in over 290 of the 295 school districts in Washington. While many other districts also maintain technology, maintenance, and transportation levies, the Walla Walla Board of Directors is only proposing to replace the expiring four-year “learning levy” (2017-2020), with a new 4-year levy (2021-2024). Walla Walla Public Schools maintains one of the region’s lowest overall education tax rates.

Q: Where can I learn more about this levy?
A: Visit our website at: https://www.wwps.org/levy
A: Watch our brief levy video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGhba3445D4
A: Contact Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith (wsmith@wwps.org / 509.526.6715) or Communications Director Mark Higgins (mhiggins@wwps.org / 509.526.6716)

Local teachers earn National Board Certification

Congratulations to Walla Walla Public Schools teachers Valerie Gentzler (Blue Ridge), Joshua Reed (Edison) and Kristen Wegner (Walla Walla High School) for earning their National Board certification. Tuesday night Assistant Superintendent Chris Gardea presented these outstanding educators with official pins recognizing this accomplishment. To become a Board-certified teacher, eligible candidates must demonstrate advanced knowledge, skills, and practice in their individual certificate area by completing four components: three portfolio entries and a computer-based assessment.

Highly Capable Referral Period scheduled February 3 through February 28, 2020 

Walla Walla School District’s Highly Capable programming provides students of high academic and intellectual ability with designated time to explore concepts in greater depth. The goal of the Highly Capable Program is to encourage the development of higher level thinking skills.

Information on Highly Capable Program services and the 2020 referral process is currently available on the district’s website. Referral forms are available in all district schools and on the district’s website. wwps.org/programs/explorers

The annual selection process for in-district students takes place in late winter/early spring, with referral packets due back to schools by February 28, 2020 for grades K-8. Following the testing and selection process, all parents will be notified in writing of the results of the process. A child not selected one year may be referred again in subsequent years.

Kindergarten cognitive abilities screening took place in January. Parents will be notified of screening results and full referral forms will be distributed at conferences in February. Referred students will take the remainder of the cognitive abilities test and be reviewed for selection by the end of March so differentiated programming can be reviewed and planned for at their home schools in the spring.

Students in 2nd and 5th grade took the cognitive abilities screener in January and results of the screening process, along with other data points, will be used to determine which students will be recommended at conference time to participate in the remainder of the cognitive abilities test. Parents will be notified of screening results and full referral forms will be distributed at conferences in February. Referred students will take the remainder of the cognitive abilities test and be reviewed for selection by the end of March so differentiated programming can be reviewed and planned for at their home schools in the spring.

Parents/guardians of students in 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th grade should be in contact with their child’s teacher(s) at conference time to determine if Highly Capable testing is recommended.

Students in grades one through eight selected for Highly Capable programming will begin services at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

For more information, please contact Christy Krutulis, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning. ckrutulis@wwps.org or 526-6733.

January Bond update

The January bond update report states local contractor Nelson Construction and Walla Walla’s Koncrete Industries poured the slab during winter break. Local contractor Jackson Construction Group is now busy framing walls for the new facility, followed up shortly by Walla Walla’s own Elsom Roofing who will be installing the roof system. The January bond report also states Pioneer MS construction documents are being developed and the district is seeking bids for the Blue Ridge roof replacement project. 

Elementary math curriculum adoption takes another step forward

Tuesday night, Teaching and Learning Executive Director Christy Krutulis recommended adoption of new K-5 Mathematics curriculum. The process spanned 12 months and included materials review, standards alignment to state requirements, piloting of materials, parent input and final review by the Instructional Materials Committee. Teachers Tensie Lovejoy and Claudia Saldivar reported about their experiences piloting the materials. School board members will be asked to consider approving the K-5 Math adoption next month.

Personnel Report (from Jan. 21, 2020 school board meeting)


Administrative: Jennifer Foster, Principal, Edison Dual Language Elementary School

Classified: Nancy Tompkins, Bus Assistant, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op


Certificated: Stacy Just, Art, Garrison Middle School, 3 years
• Stacy also worked 4 years as a para-educator

School Stories
Walla Walla High School students receive Traffic Safety Awards

Public Health Award:
Congratulations to Walla Walla High School student Mila Flowers and her team from the 21st Century After School Program, supervised by Andrew Sayers, for winning the Public Health Award at the annual Walla Walla County Traffic Safety Awards program. Mila was the director and writer of the video project promoting the Every 15 Minutes program. There were over 15 Wa-Hi students who helped produce the video. As director, Mila developed the script and helped coordinate sound, scene displays, costume, make up and more.

Every 15 Minutes film official trailer: https://youtu.be/2bMaYjMvhSk

The full video will be played during the 2020 Every 15 Minutes program at schools throughout the county.

Youth Initiative:
Congratulations to Walla Walla High School senior Peyton Bergevin for receiving the Youth Initiative Award at the Traffic Safety Awards program for her leadership in chairing the Wa-Hi Every 15 Minutes Program. The Every 15 Minutes program challenges students to say no to drinking and driving. This year’s event is Feb. 27-28 and involves police, fire department, paramedics and other agencies. Peyton was praised for being energetic, organized, patient, talented, idea driven and artistic. She promoted participation in the Every 15 Minutes program to her classmates and did the behind the scenes work to make the program more successful.

Youth Global Climate Change Summit 

Jan. 30, 6 to 7 p.m.
You are invited to join the 21st CCLC afterschool students, from Blue Ridge, Sharpstein, Green Park, and Edison Elementary, showcase their possible solutions to our global climate challenges.

This is a youth-driven and student-led event and will take place at the Reid Center Ballroom on the Whitman College Campus (280 Boyer Ave., Walla Walla, WA 99362). Food and refreshments will be provided.

For more information, contact Brent Cummings (bcummings@wwps.org, 509-526-1929).

Volunteers needed to serve on Walla Walla High School Senior Culminating Project Panel

Reserve your spot now to serve on the Walla Walla High School Senior Culminating project panel to hear the stories and accomplishments from the Class of 2020. This hands-on project provides seniors a formal opportunity to demonstrate in a variety of ways their learning competencies. Students will showcase their abilities to think analytically, logically and creatively. They will also feature the importance of work and how performance, effort and decisions directly affect future career and educational opportunities.

This is a graduation requirement. Volunteers will serve on a review panel to score the presentations.

Presentation Schedule:
• March 12
• March 19
• April 21
• April 22

Presentation Times: 3:15 to 7 p.m.
Location: Wa-Hi Library (dinner provided)

Email waculmprojects@wwps.org if you are interested in serving on the Senior Project Panel or if you need additional information.

We Are Wa-Hi – Planning Your Future

• Tuesday, Feb. 25
• 5 to 7 p.m.
• Wa-Hi gym
• Registration event for students and families of current 8th-11th grade students

Join us to register for classes for next year and to learn about the many opportunities and pathways available to students. This event features an academics/course fair, information sessions and clubs and sports fair. Childcare is provided.

Community Stories
Walla2Hoops AAU basketball teams win championships at Pendleton tournament

Walla2Hoops AAU Basketball Club’s 6th grade boys basketball team, coached by Bruce Dumser, won the Clash at the Border AAU Basketball 6th Grade Division Championship in Pendleton, OR on Jan. 19. The 8th grade boys team, coached by Chris Gardea, won the 8th Grade Division Championship at the same tournament.

“Walla2Hoops’ focus on skill development is helping our local teams become more competitive throughout the region,” said Walla2Hoops Club President Matthew Price-Huntington. “We are proud of our 6th and 8th grade boys teams for winning this tournament and representing our community with class.”

6th Grade Boys: Head Coach Bruce Dumser / Assistant Coaches Phil Green, Jon Claridge
Korbin Claridge
Nile Dumser
Josiah Ellington
Spencer Green
Jacob Griffith
Hayes Hendley
Yuhan Marin-Lemus
Colton McCollaugh
Colt Pemberton
Basil Reed
Michael Spalding
Simon Unck
Jax Wright

8th Grade Boys: Head Coach Chris Gardea / Assistant Coach Mark Higgins
Aaron Esquivel
Dane Gardea
Carter Green
Kahiau Helm
Ken Higgins
Mateo Maxwell
William Sullivan
Austin Woiblet

Walla2Hoops is a 501C3 Non-Profit basketball club which operates under the umbrella of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Walla2Hoops provides an enriched basketball environment with a mission to create a positive competitive culture focused on developing character and basketball fundamentals. For more information about the club or to provide donations for the scholarship program, contact: walla2hoops@gmail.com.

Become a Soccer Referee

In a rare opportunity, the USSF Soccer Referee Association is bringing a referee training clinic to Walla Walla. They are hoping to train and certify more soccer referees in our Walla Walla Valley to support the local youth Walla Walla United Soccer Club (WWUSC) as there is a serious shortage of soccer referees in our community.

When: February 15, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Murr Field in Walla Walla
Cost: $85 – However upon completion of the course and reffing three WWUSC games this amount will be refunded to you.
Who: Anyone 14 years and older. Adults must pass a background check.
Pay Rate: Refs earn between $30-$60 per game
Additional Information: Training involves some online study materials and five hours of field training (the clinic)
Questions?: Contact Claudia Garcia at wwusc.scheduler@gmail.com

To Register online: http://www.wareferees.org/Registration/HowToBecomeAReferee.aspx

For more information about the Walla Walla United Soccer Club please visit: https://www.wwusc.com/

Hiring for Garden Education Managers underway

Farm-to-School is hiring school Garden Education Managers (GEM) for spring season. This is an important paid position, vital to providing quality garden experiences, garden maintenance and community building support. School gardens not only provide a living space for experiencing science and nature, they also impact attitudes about fresh foods and the environment.

While planting seeds and tasting produce with students in the gardens is the highlight of the year, recruiting and supporting volunteers, interns and Garden Education Managers (GEM) remains the essential effort that allows school gardens to thrive.

If you or someone you know might be interested in this paid GEM position, please apply through Work Source WW.

Whitman Summer Institute Registration: Teaching and Learning in our School Gardens

Whitman College Science Outreach, in partnership with Walla Walla Valley Farm to School and the Sustainable Living Center, will be offering a 2020 Summer Institute. This will be a 3-day workshop focused on the many ways to teach and learn in the garden. Two of our days will be spent digging into delightful aspects of science with Whitman professors. Our other day will be filled with knowledge from an expert Santa Cruz based LifeLab garden educator. We will balance our time between our inside lab spaces and the outside world, investigating the multitude of ways you can use your school gardens to connect with your curriculum.

June 23-25, 2020
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free Lunch will be provided each day
STEM Clock hours available

Heidi Chapin, Science Outreach Coordinator, Whitman College

Nature Kids: Weathering a Winter Wonderland

Saturday, January 25, 10 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Walla Walla Public Library
Discover the wonders of winter through hands-on experiments that showcase how animals survive frigid temperatures, snowy landscapes, and seasonal shifts. Selected experiments demonstrate how marine animals survive frigid waters and icy landscapes and how land-based animals survive harsh winters through hibernation. Children will also have the opportunity to observe the marvels of snow up close to learn about the unique, yet delicate, structures of snowflakes.

Nature Kids events are free and open to the public. These events are casual, drop-in and enjoy events. We’re able to make accommodations for children with accessibility needs. Contact Alex James with any questions at alex@bmlt.org or 509-525-3136.

Walla Walla Symphony annual free family concert and foodraiser

The Walla Walla Symphony is excited to present “The Orchestra Moves,” our annual Free Family Concert & “Foodraiser” on Sunday, January 26 at 3 p.m. in Cordiner Hall on the Whitman College Campus. Families are invited to try out orchestra instruments before the concert with a free instrument petting zoo at 2 p.m. in the lobby of Cordiner Hall. While you’re there, take a picture with our photo cutouts featuring a conductor and a cellist.

Admission for this concert is free with a non-perishable food-item donation to benefit the Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank. This concert is a great opportunity for even the youngest listeners to experience a Symphony concert! Bring your friends, family and neighbors for a fun, free musical afternoon! Concert run time is approximately 45 minutes and this concert is suitable for all ages.

“The Orchestra Moves” explores musical movement by looking at the way composers use melodic direction, motif, and dynamics. The performance will be conducted by Dr. Paul Luongo and hosted by Kevin Loomer. In addition to the full rank of Symphony musicians, performers will also include a youth choir comprised of students from the Walla Walla Public Schools (WWPS) led by Lori Parnicky, Stefanie Flerchinger and Brylie Gobel; and Stefanie Flerchinger, Jeremy Irland, and Rachel Condie as song leaders. Projected images and opportunities for audience participation will also be included.

The Walla Walla Symphony began performing free concerts for families and young people in our community in 1953. Our partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) “Link Up” program represents a commitment to support music education in our community. This performance will be repeated twice on Monday morning, January 27, for over 2,700 area 3rd, 4th and 5th graders who have been working with their music teachers on the Link Up curriculum since September.

These concerts are presented in part by Key Technology, Whitman College, Tallman’s, U.S. Bank Foundation, and Walla Walla Public Schools Music Program.

City Parks & Rec Weekly Update

• The Pottery Painting Studio Valentines Dot Classes Tuesday, January 28 6-8pm or Saturday, February 2 9-11am. No fee for the class, pottery item purchase required. Space is limited!
• Blue Mountain Girls Softball – Ages 5–12 (age as of 12/31/18) - $40 - $55
• NEW Blue Mountain Pre Tee ball League – Open to boys and girls ages 3 &4 (age as of 3/30/20) - $40
• Spring Softball Skills Clinic – Ages 7-14 – March 28 – $35 - Pitching and catching clinic - $15
• Mother/Son Superhero Bash – Ages 3 and up. Cost is $15. Saturday, February 8 at 6pm.
• Father/Daughter Ball – Ages 3 and up. Cost is $15. Saturday, February 29 at 7pm.
• Veterans Memorial Pool Passes – Youth/Senior/Veteran $55 Adult $65 Family $140. Prices will increase on February 1.
• Youth Fencing – Beginning Classes for ages 9-18. Cost is $60. Saturdays 8:50 – 9:50 and 10am – 11am. Equipment provided.
• Adult Fencing – Classes for ages 18 and up. Cost is $75. Saturdays 11:10 – 12:10. Equipment provided.
• Youth Art Class (taught in Spanish) for ages 5-13. Cost is $20. Mondays 5pm – 7:30pm.
• Scholarships available for youth programs. To apply stop by the Parks and Recreation office at 55 E Moore St.

For more information on these programs or to register, please go to:
• Web: www.wwpr.us
• Like us on facebook: www.facebook.com/wallawallapr
• Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wallawallapr/

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