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Logan Newman, eighth grader, received Student of the Month from View Ridge Middle School
Logan Newman, eighth grader, received Student of the Month from View Ridge Middle School
Ridgefield School District introduces new programs to recognize the excellence of its students, staff, and alumni (Photo) - 10/20/14
Monday, October 20, 2014-Ridgefield, WA-Ridgefield School District introduces two new programs to recognize the contributions and excellence of the district's students, staff, and alumni: the Student and Employee of the Month Program and the annual Ridgefield School District Hall of Fame.

At their most recent board meeting on Tuesday, October 14, the district's Board of Directors and Dr. Nathan McCann, Ridgefield School District superintendent, recognized one student from each of the district's four schools as Students of the Month and recognized one employee from the district as Employee of the Month. In addition, the Board of Directors approved a resolution approving the district's Hall of Fame program.

Each of the district's four schools will select a Student of the Month. Students of the Month are nominated by the teachers and staff members of their respective schools. Each Student of the Month receives a framed commemorative certificate as well as a "Ridgefield School District Student of the Month Lives Here!" yard sign to put in front of their home.

Employees of the Month are nominated by their colleagues. "Our staff makes amazing contributions to student learning every single day," said McCann. "Each month, we will spotlight a staff member as nominated by his or her peers for excelling at their craft."

Each month, the district will announce the Employee and Students of the Month at a board of directors meeting, on a blog located on the district's website, and through the district's Facebook and Twitter accounts. Friends, family, and community members are invited to attend the board meeting in order to congratulate the recipients.

Employee of the Month

Nam Nguyen, a math teacher at View Ridge Middle School, received the inaugural Employee of the Month Award which includes a framed Employee of the Month certificate, a commemorative coffee mug and a gift certificate to a local Ridgefield restaurant, the Historic Sportsman's Restaurant and Lounge.

Nguyen's coworkers complimented his teaching style and tech savviness. In addition, colleagues pointed out how he goes out of his way to ensure students receive the help they need, saying "he works tirelessly for both students and his colleagues and is always striving to make things better in new ways."

Students of the Month

South Ridge Elementary School
Madison Lee - Sixth Grader

South Ridge teachers and staff included several comments about Madison Lee including:
* Madison is an excellent example of a caring and responsible student.
* Madison repeatedly shows willingness to reach out to her classmates to offer help and assistance whenever and wherever needed.
* Madison's acts of kindness are sensitive and respectful - she never draws attention to herself - she simply steps in and supports her classmates however she can.
* Madison is an outstanding model for all of sixth grade.

Union Ridge Elementary School
Gabe Meadows - Sixth Grader

Union Ridge teachers and staff included several comments about Gabe Meadows including:
* During school, Gabe exhibits the life skills of effort, responsibility and perseverance.
* Gabe works hard to complete all of his homework, is helpful to his teachers and peers, and always seems to do so with a wonderful attitude.
* Gabe takes great pride in his work and we are equally proud of him.

View Ridge Middle School
Logan Newman - Eighth Grader

View Ridge teachers and staff included several comments about Logan Newman including:
* Logan is a hardworking student who truly enjoys learning.
* Logan helps others and works hard to do his best.
* Logan's warm smile and positive attitude makes him a role model for all students.

Ridgefield High School
Lily Grunstead - Junior

Ridgefield High School's teachers and staff included several comments about Lily Grunstead including:
* Lily is an incredible young lady - she possesses a great work ethic; is kind an respectful to all; and is very involved in school.
* Lily conducts herself with integrity, is kind and caring, and works extremely hard for her grades - she is a gem.

The Historic Sportsman's Restaurant and Lounge, a local Ridgefield business owned and operated by Terry Hurd, sponsored the Employee of the Month and Student of the Month programs by contributing funds to pay for the awards and other supplies for the program.

Hall of Fame Program

At the October 14 board meeting, the Board of Directors passed a resolution approving the district's Hall of Fame program. The first class of inductees into the district Hall of Fame will be announced near the end of the 2014-15 school year with subsequent years of Hall of Fame inductees announced in the fall of each year. The inductees for the class of 2015-2016 will be announced in the fall of 2015.

Any individual can nominate a Ridgefield High School graduate or Ridgefield School District employee for consideration as an inductee for the Hall of Fame. In order to be considered, nominees must have graduated a minimum of 20 years prior to the induction date or have worked for the district a minimum of 20 years prior to the induction date. In addition, nominees will be evaluated based on their achievements and contributions made over their careers.

"The Hall of Fame Program provides a method for the district to honor Ridgefield High School's exemplary graduates and Ridgefield School District's exceptional employees," said McCann. "The program will also serve to promote increased awareness and pride in the alumni and employees of the Ridgefield School District and their contributions to society at the local, regional, and even national levels."

Additional guidelines as well as nomination forms will soon be on the district and high school websites at www.ridge.k12.wa.us as well as paper copies made available in the high school and district offices.

Jordyn Davies (4th) appreciates the extra help she gets from having a second teacher in class
Jordyn Davies (4th) appreciates the extra help she gets from having a second teacher in class
Ridgefield School District's new buildings provide teachers the opportunity to use innovative teaching techniques (Photo) - 10/13/14
Monday, October 13, 2014-Ridgefield, WA-Fourth grade teachers at Union Ridge Elementary School use the functionality provided by the district's brand-new capital facilities buildings to utilize innovative teaching techniques in their classes.

Mindy Morris and Nani Mack team-teach fourth grade language arts thanks to a collapsible adjoining wall in their classrooms. "Initially, the plans for the new building included a solid wall between our classrooms, however we suggested the construction team use a collapsible wall instead and they fit the idea into the plan," said Morris.

The two teachers alternate who leads each lesson so the other one can ensure students receive extra help if they need it. For the students, they have two language arts teachers instead of just one. "The concept of team-teaching language arts stems from the new common core curriculum which combines reading and writing - having two teachers introduce the material makes us both that much more effective," said Morris. "In addition, since the students have more classmates, they are exposed to the additional perspectives their new classmates bring with them."

Morris previously taught as part of a team in a middle school and brought up the idea of team-teaching with Mack last year. "I love team teaching and would never go back," said Mack. "It's definitely a different experience since we spend a little more time planning, however we're able to manage class-time so effectively that students spend more time learning since there's always one of us who can help those students who are struggling without slowing down the rest of the class." In addition, when either teacher uses a substitute teacher, the lesson plan doesn't slow down. "When we have subs, the classes still have at least one teacher with whom they're familiar so the lessons proceed as planned," explained Mack.

Mack and Morris work well together thanks to their similar teaching styles. "Our personalities mesh very well so team-teaching comes easy to us," said Morris. "We're very lucky because it can be rare for two teachers to get along as well as we do." Mack agreed, "The biggest challenge of team-teaching is getting used to being observed by your teaching partner every day; you have to really trust your partner and appreciate giving and receiving feedback."

Students really enjoy the team-teaching concept, too. "It's nice getting to try something we're not used to which is also so new to us," said Cameron Jones, a fourth grader. "Team-teaching is more fun because you get more time with the teachers and each one has their own style - they help each other and communicate very well together."

Jordyn Davies, a classmate, agreed with Jones, "I really like language arts and now we have more than one teacher to help us with things we don't understand," she said. "The two teachers are really fun to learn from and it's fun watching them both teach."

Sheila Davis hands a Chromebook laptop to a student, allowing the project to be completed paperless
Sheila Davis hands a Chromebook laptop to a student, allowing the project to be completed paperless
STEM students at View Ridge Middle School use Chromebooks to diagnose foodborne illnesses (Photo) - 10/06/14
Monday, October 6, 2014-Ridgefield, WA-Students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classes at View Ridge Middle School use Chromebooks and the power of cloud computing to diagnose mystery foodborne illnesses as one of their class projects.

Sheila Davis, one of View Ridge's two STEM teachers, teaches her classes the causes, symptoms and cures for five different foodborne pathogens: Salmonella, E. Coli, Listeria, Shigella, and Staphylococcus.

After the lesson, Davis splits students into teams, each of which receives a patient with a mystery illness. Each team must use the patient's history, symptoms and vital signs to diagnose which of the five pathogens the patient may have contracted. Following diagnosis, the teams use Chromebooks, special laptop computers which access Google Apps over the district's wireless network, to create a slideshow presentation which they present to the class documenting their patient's illness as well as including ways of preventing the contraction of the illness as well as methods to self-diagnose the illness.

Although Davis has taught this lesson before, this year she taught the project completely paperless. "The biggest challenge has been teaching students to become more familiar with looking at the Google Classroom App for handouts and guidelines instead of having it printed on paper in front of them," she said. "However, just over the course of this project, the students are becoming more comfortable with using the Chromebooks, and soon using the cloud for research and resources will become second nature for them."

Going paperless has presented an unexpected challenge for Davis, too. "The students are finishing their projects faster than I expected they would because the Chromebooks are enabling them to be more efficient," she said. "The quicker completion rate has given teams more time to be more creative with their slideshow presentations and explore the different features offered by the Google Apps."

Students really enjoyed diagnosing their patients. "I want to be a surgeon or medical biologist when I grow up, so medical science is really fun for me," said Payton Kautz, an eighth grader. "I like group work because you can get more work done faster and you also get to socialize with your friends while you're working."

Students appreciate the benefits that come from working with the Chromebooks. "The Chromebooks are particularly helpful because you don't need to carry books and papers around with you," said Josh Reef, a classmate. "All of your materials are safely stored in the cloud so you don't have to worry about losing anything."

STEM classes often focus on group work in their lesson plans since many professionals will use teamwork to get work done, too. "I like working teams because you can have fun while you're working," said Justin Lindsay, an eighth grader. "I also find that you can be very creative in STEM classes because interacting with other people can help you open your mind to other ideas you might not have come up with yourself."

Victoria Pfeifer, Madison Blair, and Madison Laycoe learn about scholarships and financial aid in College 101
Victoria Pfeifer, Madison Blair, and Madison Laycoe learn about scholarships and financial aid in College 101
Ridgefield High School seniors prepare for college by taking a new College 101 course and by participating in College Month activities (Photo) - 09/29/14
Monday, September 29, 2014-Ridgefield, WA-As students enter their senior year, the process of applying for college applications and scholarships can feel daunting and intimidating. This year, in order to prepare students for the different processes involved in applying for college and financial aid, Ridgefield High School offered an innovative new class called College 101. In addition, the high school designated October as College Month, offering college-preparation activities throughout the entire month and into early November.

College 101

For the first time ever, Ridgefield High School offered a special course for the 2014-15 school year for seniors interested in receiving help applying for college and financial aid. Students arrive at school an hour early each day during the fall semester to attend the course. "Counselors and administrators developed the curriculum for the course, and I'm adding new material as we go," explained Monica DeShazer, College 101's teacher and one of the high school's counselors. "We want students to be able to submit quality college and university applications, be accepted to attend the schools of their choosing, and to be knowledgeable about all of their post-secondary options."

Throughout the semester-long course, students must apply to a minimum of one (1) college, one (1) university, and complete a minimum of 14 scholarship applications. "We're working to provide students with the skills necessary to differentiate themselves from other applicants and to market themselves to the application committees at their preferred colleges and universities," said DeShazer.

Quizzes and other coursework require students to complete research to find resources offering scholarship opportunities as well as locating resources for assistance in the process of applying for college and financial aid. In addition, students receive tips and training on the best ways to ask for letters of recommendation as well as following up to ensure those letters have been sent.

"I'm the first in my family to ever apply for college and I had no idea how to approach the college application process," said Madison Laycoe, a senior in the class. "I always feel comfortable asking Mrs. DeShazer for help and other resources, and I would really recommend this class to any senior because it offers such great benefits."

Victoria Pfeifer, a senior and classmate of Laycoe's, fully agreed, "Every senior should be signed up for this class because it really is that helpful," she said. "I applied for this class to receive help with scholarships - I want to be able to attend the University of Washington next year, and I want to be able to get all the help I can to pay for my education."

College Month

Throughout October and into November, Ridgefield High School's counseling team will offer valuable field trips, visitations, and other activities to help graduating seniors apply for college and learn about post-secondary options.

* College Day - Tuesday, October 14 - School-Wide Event
The RHS Counseling Team is working closely with ASB to promote a college-going culture in conjunction with Homecoming Week. RHS staff will wear clothing from their alma maters and will put signs on their classroom doors indicating the college(s) they attended. Each period, teachers will share stories with their class about the college(s) they attended. All students will see and hear about a variety of colleges. During the lunch hour, there will be an informational Scavenger Hunt where students can win prizes.

* RHS Fall Fair - Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. - RHS Commons
Representatives from nearly 50 universities, community colleges, technical schools, apprenticeships, the armed forces, and community services will be on-hand to tell students, parents, and interested community members about their offerings.

* PSAT Testing - Free for Juniors - Saturday, October 18, 2014
Ridgefield High School will pay for any interested juniors to take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) which provides a rehearsal for students interested in taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) to attend college. Sophomores interested in taking the test could register for $15.

* College Campus Field Trip - Friday, October 24, 2014
The Counseling Department plans to take 40 sophomores, juniors and seniors on a field trip to tour the campuses of the University of Portland, Washington State University - Vancouver, and Clark College.

* Portland National College Fair - Monday, November 3, 2014
The Counseling Department plans to take 30 juniors and seniors to the Portland National College Fair where students will receive information from representatives of colleges and universities from all of the United States.

* College Application Night - Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - Details coming soon
The Counseling Department invites all seniors and parents to attend College Application Night to receive assistance in completing college applications. College representatives will attend in order to provide additional assistance.

* College Representative Visitation - Ongoing - Lunchtime, Before/After School
Throughout College Month, Ridgefield High School will host representatives from colleges and universities to discuss their college or universities. These representatives will be available during lunch hour, before and after school, and the activities are available to any interested student.

* The "I Applied" Board - Year-Round
The Counseling Department is maintaining an "I Applied" Board featuring colleges and universities where the students of the Class of 2015 have applied. The board will be regularly updated throughout the year.

"Our goal is to promote post-secondary awareness and a college-going culture," said DeShazer. "We are participating in the national College Application Campaign thanks to financial support received from a generous grant provided by the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation."