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News Releases
Maria Rodriguez, also an accomplished musician and singer, uses music and song to teach her first grade Dual Language students.
Maria Rodriguez, also an accomplished musician and singer, uses music and song to teach her first grade Dual Language students.
Woodland Public Schools receives $60,000 grant to support its ongoing Dual Language Program at Columbia Elementary School (Photo) - 10/14/19

Monday, October 14, 2019-Woodland, WA-Washington State’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) awarded Columbia Elementary School a two-year grant worth $60,000 as the school embarks on its second year of offering its Dual Language Program teaching interested Woodland Public Schools students in both English and Spanish.

Woodland Public Schools introduced the Dual Language Program during the 2018-2019 school year to help address the increasing diversity of the community’s population. “More than 25% of our entering kindergartners cannot speak English,” said Ingrid Colvard, Principal of Columbia Elementary School. “By offering a dual language program, we not only help address the needs of our native Spanish-speaking families but also the desires of our native English-speaking families who would like their children to be bilingual.”

Receiving outside funding following the first year of a dual language program is unusual, however the grant from OSPI will provide $30,000 to Woodland’s program in each its second and third years. “I’m excited to have the state see the good work we’re accomplishing and continue to support our program,” said Colvard. “The funding will help pay for curriculum materials for next year’s second grade students as well as professional development opportunities for our bilingual teaching team throughout this year.”

In order to continually assess and improve their dual language program, Principal Colvard and the Dual Language Teaching Team attend professional development opportunities throughout the year including conferences and site visits to other dual language schools. “Several school districts throughout Washington offer dual language programs so we visit them in order to research ideas and strategies to implement at our program,” said Colvard. “Working with other districts helps all the schools involved improve their immersion programs by sharing the concepts that work – it’s a true collaborative effort.”

Although the program started with just two kindergarten classes in 2018, Woodland Public Schools must prepare for each subsequent year as students progress from one grade to the next level. “We’ve been dedicated to supporting the program for the long-term from the very beginning, knowing that we would need to ensure we have the teachers and curriculum for a new grade level each year in the beginning,” explained Colvard. “When we receive grants like this one, we can supplement what we receive from our incredibly supportive community to ensure we offer the best learning experiences for our students.”

The grant will fund purchasing next year’s second grade teaching materials in advance, offering the teaching team the time to plan. “By having next year’s materials this year, we won’t have to plan on-the-fly,” explained Colvard. “Having the materials sooner is truly critical as it gives the entire team the opportunity to know what we and how we need to teach in order to prepare our students for the next year’s lessons.”

Breaking Down the Language Barrier

The Dual Language Program continues to have an impact school-wide throughout Columbia Elementary School, even with students not enrolled in the program. “It’s become cool to speak two languages now and there’s a real naturalness to how our building uses both languages,” said Colvard. “Everyone’s used to saying the Pledge of Allegiance in both languages and seeing printed materials in both English and Spanish – it’s just what we do.”

First grade students in dual language fully read and write in both English and Spanish. “When at lunch or on recess, our dual-language students help translate for our students who don’t speak both languages,” said Colvard. “The program has really changed the entire climate and culture of the building by breaking down the language barrier; we are all part of the same community regardless of the language we speak.”

Preparing for Second Grade

Columbia Elementary School’s dual language team now includes two kindergarten teachers, two first grade teachers, and a teacher new to the district this year who will teach second grade next year, Franklin Collazo.

Collazo and his wife moved to Woodland from San Jose, California after visiting Portland with his wife. “One of my sons was looking at colleges in the Portland area and we were impressed with the area, particularly north of Portland,” said Collazo. “My entire family loved the area, but when my sister-in-law bought a house during our visit, we knew it was only a matter of time before we would be making the move, too.”

Collazo is no stranger to dual language programs. He and his wife helped start a dual language program in San Jose which both their sons attended. “Being able to speak two languages is like being able to cross the bridge from Portland to Vancouver,” said Collazo. “Students learn not just the language but also the norms and culture, and when you look at it from professional development, it’s a huge opportunity for students to be able to apply for jobs where speaking two different languages is key.”

Collazo looked at bilingual education programs at schools in Southwest Washington and even took a few interviews with other districts, but when he interviewed in Woodland, he knew he found the right place. “Ingrid is smart, quick, and a true visionary with the quiet courage needed to implement a program like this,” he said. “It certainly didn’t hurt that my wife and I found the house of our dreams here; the rest is history.”

Collazo started teaching as a classroom assistant in 1987 and received his teaching credentials to teach full-time in 1993. Although he worked for many years as a school administrator, he looked forward to returning to the classroom. Being Puerto Rican, Woodland was a perfect fit for Collazo. “Puerto Ricans hold a lot of pride in our towns rather than states or counties,” he explained. “One of the reasons I love Woodland is how the community holds a great deal of pride in their town and their schools.”

More Information for Families interested in Dual Language

Families interested in enrolling their students in the Dual Language Program do not need to be bilingual themselves and students do not need to have any prior knowledge of their non-native language. Additionally, there are no screening criteria for students to enroll – all students are eligible. Applicants are accepted in the order of their application date and the district has a designated lottery-system should the number of applicants exceed the number of available classroom spots.

Although there is no additional cost to enroll, parents and guardians must remember that the true benefits from a dual language program involve a long-term commitment and should plan for their student to continue enrollment in the program for the grades following kindergarten, too.

For additional information, visit Columbia Elementary School’s Dual Language Program website: http://bit.ly/Woodland-Dual-Language

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Nearly 50 companies looking for new employees (including Tribeca Transport pictured here) will attend the Woodland Works Job Fair at Woodland High School on Thursday, October 24 from 1 p.m. 4 p.m. 
Nearly 50 companies looking for new employees (including Tribeca Transport pictured here) will attend the Woodland Works Job Fair at Woodland High School on Thursday, October 24 from 1 p.m. 4 p.m. 
The Port of Woodland and Woodland Public Schools invite job-seekers to attend Woodland Works - a free job fair featuring nearly 50 employers (Photo) - 10/07/19

Monday, October 7, 2019-Woodland, WA-The Woodland Works Job Fair will bring together nearly 50 area companies looking to hire new employees for a free one-day event for job-seekers looking for both part- and full-time careers on Thursday, October 24 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Woodland High School located at 1500 Dike Access Road, Woodland WA 98674..

There are no admission costs of any kind for job-seekers to participate and no RSVP is necessary. Job seekers should bring their resumes as employers may choose to interview potential candidates and fill positions on-the-spot during the fair.

Attending employers represent companies of all sizes from Woodland and the surrounding area. Below is a list of the nearly 50 employers who will attend Woodland Works:

  • American Medical Response (AMR)
  • Atlas Plumbing Contractors
  • Builders First Source
  • Burgerville
  • BYoung RV
  • Clark County Sheriff’s Office
  • Cowlitz PUD
  • Creekside Place Assisted Living
  • Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
  • Dick Hannah Dealerships
  • EmpRes Healthcare Management
  • Express Personnel
  • Fibre Federal Credit Union
  • Gibbs and Olson
  • Gifford Pinchot National Forest Service
  • Ilani Casino
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW #48)
  • International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU)
  • iQ Credit Union
  • Joel Olson Trucking
  • KWRL School Transportation Cooperative
  • Lower Columbia College (LCC)
  • Nex Works
  • NW Innovation Works
  • Pape Machinery
  • Patriot Fire Protection
  • PortCo Packaging
  • Precision Industrial Contractors
  • Red Canoe Credit Union
  • RightLine
  • Rosauers
  • Shaver Transportation
  • Style Masters College of Hair Design
  • Temco
  • Tidewater Barge Lines
  • Topper Industries
  • Total Employment and Management (TEAM)
  • Touchmark at Fairway Village
  • Treehouse Island Zipline Adventures
  • Tribeca Transport
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • U.S. Census
  • Washington Department of Transportation
  • Washington State Patrol
  • Woodland Public Schools
  • Zoe Adult Family Home

Woodland Works is the result of an ongoing partnership between the Port of Woodland and Woodland Public Schools to help align the skills students learn in school with the needs of local employers. Started last year as the Woodland Days career fair for students to learn about local employers, the fair has changed names to Woodland Works and has expanded to include a free three-hour afternoon job fair event for job-seekers of all ages to connect with area businesses who need employees.

“With the national unemployment rate at a record low, employers regularly contact us as they struggle to find candidates for job openings,” said Jennifer Keene, Executive Director for the Port of Woodland. “By offering a job fair at no cost to both employers and attendees, the Port of Woodland and Woodland Public Schools are providing a much-needed service to both our area companies as well as job-seekers from Woodland and the entire Portland-Vancouver area.”

This year’s job fair resulted from a suggestion from a participant during 2018’s Woodland Days event. “Employers loved meeting the students and teaching them about potential careers, however one asked if we could also hold a job fair so companies could meet and hire area job-seekers,” said Asha Riley, Assistant Superintendent of Woodland Public Schools. “The combination seemed like a great idea and the response from both returning and new employers to attend this year’s event has been fantastic!”

While all spaces for companies to attend this year’s Woodland Works Job Fair have already been filled, employers interested in attending future Woodland Works events or volunteering with Woodland Public Schools’ Career & Technical Education (CTE) program should contact Sarah Hadaller via email at hadalles@woodlandschools.org.

The Port of Woodland and Woodland Public Schools invite any and all job-seekers to attend the free Woodland Works job fair on Thursday, October 24, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Woodland High School located at 1500 Dike Access Road, Woodland, WA 98674.

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After the presentation, WHS students lined up to sign a banner pledging not to drive distracted.
After the presentation, WHS students lined up to sign a banner pledging not to drive distracted.
Woodland High School students pledge to help stop distracted driving (Photo) - 09/30/19

Monday, September 30, 2019-Woodland, WA-Students at Woodland High School learned the dangers of distracted driving and how they could help prevent fatal accidents for both themselves and others during a special presentation by Joel Feldman, the co-founder of End Distracted Driving (EndDD.org) whose 21-year-old daughter was killed by a distracted driver while crossing the street in 2009.

Feldman started the presentation by describing himself as a “recovering” distracted driver. “I used to check my email and answer phone calls while I drove,” he explained. “As a driving society, our philosophy seems to be: ‘No one else can handle distracted driving but I can.’”

Feldman asked the students to raise their hands if they had been a passenger in a car with a potentially drunk driver in the past month. Almost no hands were raised. He then asked how many students had been in a car with a driver who used a cell phone while driving in the past month and nearly every hand shot up, “Drunk driving isn’t socially acceptable, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case with distracted driving,” Feldman pointed out. “As a society, we need to change that perception.”

In 2017, nine percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes resulting in 3,166 people killed, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released in April 2019. The National Safety Council (NSC) found that distracted driving crashes are under-reported and the agency estimates that cell phone use alone accounted for 27% of car crashes in 2015.

Current studies show even worse results for younger drivers. “Current studies estimate 15-20% of car crashes are a result of distracted drivers, however, the number skyrockets to 60% of crashes caused by distraction when studying drivers who are 16-19 years of age,” said Feldman. “The studies show that there’s no question as to how dangerous distracted driving is, especially to new drivers.”

Students then watched a video captured of a public bus driver in Quebec, Canada who was reading, organizing paperwork, and even filling out forms, all while driving the city bus. Feldman asked students to share their reactions. “I don’t understand – it looks like the guy’s filing his taxes,” one student exclaimed. “Why would you do that while driving a bus?”

Traffic laws against using a cell phone while driving like those passed in Washington and Oregon seem to have little impact on the amount of distracted driving. “When we make it about respect, the messages have more impact since taking your eyes off the road that you’re sharing with other people simply isn’t respectful,” said Feldman. “We need to realize that we shouldn’t drive with distractions out of respect for other people – both those in our cars but also the other drivers and pedestrians around us.”

Feldman taught students how car crashes are the leading cause of death for people up to the age of 24. He then shared the story of his daughter, Casey Feldman, who was killed in 2009 at age 21 when, while crossing at a street in a crosswalk, was hit by a car whose driver wasn’t paying attention because he was checking his GPS unit. “I was so mad at the driver until I realized that I used to text and check my email while driving,” said Feldman. “This driver wasn’t even using a cell phone, he was just distracted for a few seconds while he reached for his GPS unit and those few seconds of distracted driving changed lives forever.”

Feldman rolled up his sleeves to show both his wrists wearing wristbands up to his elbows. Those wristbands were made by parents who lost children in car accidents resulting from distracted driving. “Parents ask me if I can wear their wristbands during my presentations in order to remember their kids,” he said. “I have even more at home as there are too many to wear at the same time.”

Students watched a video of a 20-year-old driver who turned to look in her backpack and drove her car into a pedestrian as he was crossing the street. Students gasped at how the driver didn’t even slow down when she hit the pedestrian. The pedestrian survived but is still recovering from a serious brain injury. “The police reported that even after she hit the pedestrian, she kept saying ‘I’m a safe driver – I’ve never been in a crash,’” said Feldman. “Unfortunately, people assume that since they haven’t been in a crash that they’re a good driver, but just because we haven’t been in an accident today doesn’t mean we won’t be in one tomorrow.”

Feldman pointed out that there are many ways to be distracted while driving including eating, programming a GPS unit, texting, emailing, or just talking on the phone. He explained the difference between manual, visual, and cognitive distractions:

  • Manual Distractions are those that make the driver move their hands from the steering wheel.
  • Visual Distractions are those that require the driver to focus their eyes away from the road.
  • Cognitive Distractions are those that cause a driver’s mind wanders away from the task of driving.

“Cell phone use – particularly texting – is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction,” said Feldman. “A study by the University of Utah showed that just talking on a hands-free cell-phone makes drivers as impaired as driving while intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08%.” He showed students how to enable the automatic “Do-Not-Disturb” feature on Google Android and Apple iPhones, a feature that detects when the user is moving in a car and automatically blocks text and application notifications until they’ve arrived at their destination.

To reduce distracted driving with their friends, Feldman encouraged to students to be honest when they ride in a car with a distracted driver by asking them to put down the distraction. “Studies show that 78% of teen drivers say they wouldn’t text and drive if a friend told them it was wrong,” he said. “90% would stop texting while driving if a friend in their car asked them to.”

Feldman taught students the value of using “I” statements – statements that talk about the speaker’s own feelings and concerns about being driven by a distracted driver – rather than using “you” statements where a passenger would tell a driver what they were doing was wrong. “Just asking a driver to stop allowing themselves to be distracted might seem small, but it shows how having respect for others can make a difference,” he said. “By simply asking others to respect us and those around them, we can all make a difference.”

After the presentation, students received pink bracelets in memory of Casey Feldman and lined up to sign a banner pledging to not drive distracted and to not let their friends or families drive distracted, either.

About EndDD.org:

Joel Feldman and his wife, Dianne Anderson, founded the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation and started EndDD.org to end distracted driving. Volunteer speakers from EndDD have given presentations to nearly half a million students across the United States at no cost to schools. To learn more including how you can help and donate funds, visit their website www.enddd.org.

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