Battle Ground Sch. Dist.
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Captain Strong Primary School students take a seat on their new Buddy Benches, which help foster the leadership habits in students
Captain Strong Primary School students take a seat on their new Buddy Benches, which help foster the leadership habits in students
Captain Strong's Leadership Program Increases Classroom Learning (Photo) - 10/15/14
At Captain Strong Primary School, kids speak the language of leaders. Words like proactive and synergize are embedded in their vocabulary, as are phrases such as "Begin with the end in mind," and "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." At Battle Ground's Captain Strong Primary, it isn't odd to see one student whisper encouragement to another or ask if a decision is the best one to make in a given situation.

"We're trying to create student leaders out of every single individual in this building," said Michael Michaud, Captain Strong's principal. For the last five years, the students at the primary school have been mentored in the educational version of a best-selling self-help book that identifies seven habits of effective people. The leadership training program, called "The Leader in Me," is based on the seven habits, but is aimed at instilling them in students' lives with explanations that bring the life skills program to their level. Staff, teachers, and students receive regular training on the philosophy, and the program's benefits have been evident among students in the school's performance growth scores.

The Leader in Me program works hand in hand with Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) at Captain Strong to meet students' social, emotional and behavioral needs. PBIS is a set of practices that models for students what is expected of them. PBIS practices show kids what appropriate behavior is, model that behavior, and then recognize students who demonstrate appropriate behaviors with positive rewards. At Captain, for example, students receive tiny, brightly colored plastic school mascot paws that they save in glass jars and then turn in the full jars for school spirit days and an end-of-year school carnival. Students earn the trinkets by following the LEAD expectations: Learn responsibility, Exhibit respect, Always be safe, and Do your best.

From the time their parents wish them their first nice day as kindergartners, students at Captain Strong are taught the blended programs of behavioral expectations and what it takes to be a leader. The Leader in Me is designed to equip students with the self-confidence and skills they need to thrive after high school, in business careers or as community volunteers. Students receive an in-depth introduction to the seven habits at the beginning of the year, followed by weekly reinforcement in the way of 30-minute leadership lessons with specialist teachers.

First graders know what it means to be proactive. Michaud recounts little moments that confirm the practice is sinking in. One such moment required gentle affirmation when a seemingly exhausted first grader asked teacher Lucinda Smith whether he had to follow the habits at home, too. Captain Strong teachers encourage students to practice the seven habits in all aspects of their lives, not just in their education.

On the playground, students are asked if the outcome of their actions resulted in a win-win situation. Many occasions have occurred when Michaud has served as a facilitator in recess discussions about who took whose ball and who should be allowed to have the next turn at an activity.

New teachers at Captain Strong are introduced to the leadership program through books and on-site training. This year, a group of Captain Strong teachers spent the recent State Inservice Day in the classroom, learning about the Habits and how they are translated to students in The Leader in Me. After an introduction, staff training continues with books, seminars, and peer groups that show teachers how to incorporate the leadership traits into other lessons. Teachers might discuss a character in a book, for example, for being responsible, demonstrating teamwork, or solving a problem--all traits of a leader.

"That's the most effective way to teach it," said Kristen McIntyre, Captain Strong's school psychologist. "It isn't an additional thing that kids learn. It's a part of who we are." The school also has copies of The Leader in Me books for parents to check out.

This year's fourth graders are well-versed in the principles. They have been schooled in The Leader in Me qualities and PBIS expectations since they first stepped foot on campus as kindergartners. This time and effort that teachers have spent teaching students about leadership principles and behavioral expectations have greatly benefited Captain Strong students.

Captain Strong teachers have enjoyed a dramatic decrease in behavioral distractions in the classroom, giving them more time to spend on lessons. Teachers give fewer referrals to students. Students are more confident. "Ultimately it isn't about us managing kids, it's about kids managing themselves," said Jennifer Kerr, Captain Strong's assistant principal.

Last year, Captain received a Washington State Achievement Award for high growth, which means the school's students have learned at a faster rate than others based on state test results.

Captain adopted the program after Michaud, who was the assistant principal at the time, received the book The Leader in Me as a Christmas gift and shared his enthusiasm for it with then principal Cindy Arnold. Arnold provided books to Captain Strong's staff, and The Leader in Me became a school-wide book study. Staff saw how well The Leader in Me's life skills philosophy meshed with the PBIS expectations, the the two programs blended into what has become a successful model that is ubiquitous in classroom curriculums, during recess and lunch time and at school events.

Michaud and his staff are so enthusiastic about the program and the positive impacts it has had on Captain Strong that they are beginning a three-year journey to become a Lighthouse School. There are 101 such recognized schools around the world that demonstrate advanced implementation of The Leader in Me program throughout their curriculum, culture and traditions.

"This is who we are and what we want our kids to be," Michaud said. "It's teaching kids what we expect of them in all parts of their education."
Laurin Middle School art specialist Tanya Bachman goes over an art project with students
Laurin Middle School art specialist Tanya Bachman goes over an art project with students
Laurin Middle School Teacher Tanya Bachman Named WAEA Middle Level Educator of the Year (Photo) - 10/09/14
The Washington Art Education Association (WAEA) has awarded Laurin Middle School art specialist Tanya Bachman the "Middle Level Educator of the Year" award for her excellent guidance of visual arts students.

WAEA gives the annual award to the middle school or junior high arts teacher or specialist who stands out above and beyond their peers in local and state levels of participation, education and advocacy. "The recipient sets the example for how Visual Arts should be taught at the middle school level," said Cynthia Gaub, awards chair for the WAEA. The recipient is involved at the local district level in curriculum development, art shows and contests, and program advocacy.

"Tanya Bachman, has a heart of gold for kids. She tries to build everyone up like their art is the best, gives them positive reinforcement throughout the day and supports them throughout their schooling years. Not only does Ms. Bachman have heart, but she goes the extra mile as a teacher at our school," said Lori Schilling, assistant principal at Laurin Middle School.

Bachman not only provides students with hands-on art projects, she also invites local artists to share their professional work with her classes and organizes class art shows so that students can present their work to parents, the school, and the community. "She provides extraordinary opportunities for her students here at Laurin," Schilling said. Student work is often displayed around the school and in the community.

On a recent day in her classroom, Bachman's seventh grade students learned about 1960s Pop Art in the style of Roy Lichtenstein. They created art based on iconic comic strip interjections like "POW!" Fifth graders learned about creating radial balanced art as they used rulers to draw symmetrical geometric designs.

Bachman says she decided to become a teacher 19 years ago after volunteering in public schools and realizing that she enjoyed working with students more than her regular job. "It's the most amazing thing," Bachman said. "They have the gift within, and I get to watch it develop. I get to see the creative process unfold."

Bachman said she is honored to receive the award, and that she is fortunate to work in a school and district that values and advocates for the arts. "I am thankful to collaborate with a gifted team of middle school art professionals, and most importantly have been blessed with the opportunity to work with so many amazing young artists whose talent and creative vision will undoubtedly change the world for the better."

WAEA 2014 award recipients will be honored during an awards luncheon from noon to 1 p.m. on Oct. 25 during the annual WAEA Conference at Showalter Middle School (4628 South 144th St. Tukwila, WA 98168). Conference highlights include author Paul Owen Lewis as the keynote speaker; opening remarks by Dr. Nancy Coogan, Tukwila School District Superintendent; and a "Teacher's As Artists" show at the Gage Academy of Arts.
Washington Art Education Association (WAEA) is dedicated to promoting excellence in visual arts education in Washington State. It administers this annual distinguished award competition with the goal of recognizing individuals and organizations whom have advocated for the teaching of visual arts in our schools and communities. WAEA is affiliated, at the national level, with the National Art Education Association. The NAEA has over twenty two thousand members. Visit our website for more information about our mission and awards program:
Students in Automotive Technology at Battle Ground High School used a web-based program for exams and to watch demonstration videos
Students in Automotive Technology at Battle Ground High School used a web-based program for exams and to watch demonstration videos
BGHS Teacher Helped Write the Book that Trains Students in Automotive Life Skills (Photo) - 10/07/14
The thought that Ed Heim puts into teaching the Automotive Technology classes at Battle Ground High School reflects his broad swath of industry experience. The BGHS teacher, who has been teaching Automotive Technology at BGHS for 13 years, literally wrote the book on the subject. Heim is a co-author of the textbook he uses in his classroom, called "Fundamentals of Automotive Technology: Principles and Practice," which was published in 2014 and includes about 15 chapters that he penned.

In Heim's classes, students gain life skills in preparation for careers and education beyond high school. Students get hands-on experience in automotive care, maintenance, and repair using the very same equipment as businesses that provide automotive services. Battle Ground High School's Automotive Technology courses are part of the district's Career and Technical Education program, which provides students an opportunity to learn employability and leadership skills.

The successes that have come out of Heim's classes are many. Last year alone, four students in his program received job offers before commencement ceremonies.

Automotive Technology is divided into three classes: In Auto I, students learn basic automobile care and maintenance. Auto II builds on the basic fundamentals learned in Auto I by focusing on repair procedures to such automotive systems as brakes, engines, electrical, steering, and suspension. Auto III students explore some of the highest levels of diagnostic procedures using state-of-the-art equipment and learn about engine performance and how to rebuild engines. Some students work on special projects and participate in internships.

The textbook that Heim co-authored is used in automotive technology courses around the world and has a companion program that incorporates videos and web-based quizzes and exams. The tome is much more modern than anything else available on the subject, he said. Heim uses the videos, for example, to create interactive presentations in the classroom. And the book covers subjects like modern electronics that are used in vehicles, as well as the scanners and diagnostics equipment used to troubleshoot problems with the electronics.

But nothing can replace the experience students get from working on real vehicles. "We are excited to get donated cars," Heim said. "We usually get a couple a year. It really works out great for the students who get real-life experience working on these donated vehicles." The BGHS Automotive Technology program has received three donated vehicles so far this year. Students in all the classes will work on donated vehicles, depending on whether they need brakes or engine repairs or even just an oil change. "We use them as teaching aids for several years, and when we're finished we can auction them off and use the money in our program," Heim said. The money from auctioned vehicles often pays for the parts necessary to repair them and then could be used to buy equipment for the program.

About Mr. Heim: Before joining the teaching staff at Battle Ground High School 13 years ago, Ed Heim worked on the front lines of automotive technology. For more than two decades he owned a local automotive and machine shop with 14 employees. Before that he taught classes for four years at Clackamas Community College. Heim served in the Vietnam War with the 101st Airborne Rangers.
Battle Ground Public Schools Awarded $2.5 Million in Services From Federal Grant Project AWARE - 10/03/14
Battle Ground Public Schools is a major beneficiary of Washington's new $10 million Project AWARE grant to support student mental health and wellness over five years. The Office of Superintendent and Public Instruction (OSPI) was awarded the grant by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Battle Ground Public Schools in one of only three districts across the state to receive funding and support. Project AWARE supports the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan of activities, services, and strategies that promote the healthy development of children and youth. The Project AWARE grant will provide the district with increased access to school and community-based mental health services through improved coordination of state and local policies and resources.

"Battle Ground is a caring community," said Mark Hottowe, the Battle Ground Public Schools superintendent. "This funding will fuel our district's and community's efforts and bring all the right elements together to truly impact student health."

Hottowe knows the positive impact that this type of structure and funding can bring to a community. While working in the Kelso School District, Hottowe was instrumental in the coordination and implementation of a similar grant called Safe Schools/Healthy Students. "We saw a dramatic reduction in risky behaviors and an increase of students accessing mental health services over a five-year period." Hottowe said. "I am confident that this funding, in connection with all the great things we are already doing in our district and community, will provide similar results."

Project AWARE brings together students, parents, educators, mental health providers, local law enforcement and juvenile justice agencies, and other community-based organizations such as the Battle Ground Mentor Collaborative, Prevent Together:Battle Ground Prevention Alliance, and Youth Suicide Prevention Program to talk about mental health promotion,school climate and violence prevention. These groups will work in collaboration to create a safe school environment that provides mental health services to students in need, addresses violence prevention, and establishes safe school policies.

"This grant will help the district by providing additional staff, increased training for staff and community members, and increased mental health services to students in our schools," said Denny Waters, executive director of special education for BGPS.

The district will work closely with OSPI and Educational Service District 112 over the next several months to create a detailed implementation timeline that will best serve the students, staff, and community.

About Project Aware

The overall goals of Project AWARE are to increase access to school and community-based mental health services; improve overall school climate; build the capacity and leadership to sustain community-based mental health promotion, illness prevention, early identification, and treatment services and initiatives; increase awareness of mental health issues and promote positive mental health among youth and families; and increase mental health literacy of school personnel and other adults who come into contact with youth.
Chomebook carts
Chomebook carts
Chromebooks a Game Changer for BGPS (Photo) - 09/26/14
Deck:The mobile devices foster collaborative learning and help BGPS' administer online state tests to every student in district

Technology, infrastructure, and state testing requirements have come together in Battle Ground Public Schools to create a perfect storm of web-based learning that will hit the district's classrooms beginning next week.

That's when the district's technology department will begin delivering carts filled with Chromebook computers--2,400 in all--to every school in the district. The mobile device looks like a lightweight laptop, except that it is used specifically to work online or in the Cloud through the district's secure network.

The 2,400 Chromebooks will be distributed evenly to primary, middle, and high schools. The Chromebooks are stored in rolling carts that each hold 30 devices and keep them charged. Teachers will be able to reserve and check out the mobile devices.

Students and teachers will use the Chromebooks for collaborative learning projects, and students in third through eighth and eleventh grades will use them to take new state-mandated tests, which are only administered online beginning in the 2014-15 school year. These tests include the new Smarter Balanced Assessments, which are based on the new learning standards that Washington adopted and uses to assess student performance across the state. The Smarter Balanced Assessments measure student progress in the subjects of English language arts and math.

Training is available for teachers who use the devices in their classrooms. One teacher at every school is part of a professional development group called The Academy. Academy members have advanced technology skills and receive additional compensation to train their fellow teachers on how to effectively use technology in the classroom.

At Amboy Middle School, Academy member Melissa Theis teaches English and language arts to seventh graders. Besides using Chromebooks in her classroom for poetry and other projects, students use them to learn the how-tos of having an email account. Theis also uses Google Apps for Education to grade her students' writing papers. She can add comments, how-to videos, or her own voice to a student's document to help them before the rewriting process, enabling them to get a better grade on the final assignment. "My students are learning more than just basic computer skills, they are learning to feel comfortable with technology," Theis said.

Academy member Kayla Verpoorten, a second grade teacher at Tukes Valley Primary, has used iPads, desktop computers, and Chromebooks in her classroom. Last year her students used Chromebooks for an insect research project. Students worked in groups to create presentations in Google apps.

Students then shared a document and helped each other type information about their insect in the online application. Students learned how to insert pictures into their presentations and how to use the Google apps research tool, which let them search the web for information to add to their project. "Student engagement is a huge success when using Chromebooks," Verpoorten said. "The students love using them and put 100 percent into their projects."

One of the central components of the new state learning standards is collaborative learning. Google Apps and Chromebooks are ideally suited for that, said Scott McDaniel, BGPS's Director of Technology. "The Google interface is intuitive, it isn't something that slows you down. You don't have to learn it," he said. "We want kids to work together and create content without those barriers to learning, and this solution helps them do just that."

It took three years for the district to get to this point. When Washington set the deadline by which schools had to implement online testing to this year, BGPS began weighing its options. Three key factors played into the decision to purchase Chromebooks for use with assessment: capability, supportability, and affordability.

A district technology advisory committee comprised of parents, teachers, technical staff, and administrators debated between iPads and Chromebooks for some time, but ultimately the group chose Chromebooks because they offered the best functionality for learning and assessment. At $279 each, the Chromebooks also provided a more affordable solution than iPads or laptops. The district used dedicated levy funds to pay the total cost of the new equipment.

In its discussions, the committee quickly ruled out desktop computers as a possible solution because of space. "We just don't have the physical space to put 30 computers in every classroom," McDaniel said. But that doesn't mean the desktop computers that schools already have will be forgotten. Teachers still use desktops for educational programs in the classroom as well as district email, assessments, and monitoring student progress. "There will always be a need for different kinds of tools," McDaniel said. "The world we live in is about finding the right tool for the job."

The district is transitioning to mobile computing because of an overall technology shift to mobile devices and Cloud or web-based applications on the market. To get ready for this project, the district has built a strong wireless network over the last three years that provides secure, controlled Internet access, as well as a foundation for future growth. "We have a great infrastructure and a great professional development program, and now we have the devices to really advance student learning," McDaniel said.