Opinion

Soundoff: Coupeville schools blessed by community support

By Patty Page, superintendent

Coupeville School District

There are many inspirational sayings about how to survive, respond to and/or overcome times of crisis. I’m writing this letter to let you know that, for those of us working in Coupeville schools, our inspiration is no farther away than the students we serve.

This is the second year that seniors have completed senior projects as part of their graduation requirements. The comprehensive nature of the project requirement has students exploring careers or future paths, typically in partnership with community businesses, agencies, or organizations. Students are required to demonstrate what they’ve learned through a formal presentation that is judged by staff and/or community members. Twenty-three students presented their projects by the end of first semester. As a judge for several students this year, I’ve seen first-hand the depth of their projects and the shine of their enthusiasm.

Lexie Hemphill’s interests led her to investigate sustainable energy, and she applied this to her school. Lexie worked with two science teachers, the energy resource manager for the Town of Coupeville, and local businesses to develop a grant proposal to Puget Sound Energy. She gathered data about school energy use to support the proposal for installation of a solar panel and monitoring equipment. She gained insight into working with adults and the nonprofit world, and learned organization skills. In addition to her senior project presentation, Lexie presented information to the Coupeville school board and at the WSU Sound Waters workshop.

Stevie Glover was drawn to learn about child care and early childhood education, and talked with several local businesses providing these services. Partly as a result of her research, she is looking seriously at a career working with young children.

Our community can justly be proud of the caliber of work being done by Coupeville students. That work is a reflection not only of student initiative but also of staff support, and we can also be proud of our teaching staff. This year two teachers received National Board Certification and two more are beginning the process. Teachers continually seek ways to improve their teaching skills and to adapt instruction to student needs. Visitors to our schools see students actively learning, though sometimes this looks different than what adults remember of their own school days.

A significant source of pride in our schools comes from the support of our community. So many people and organizations donate their time, skills, and resources that I can’t possibly list them in the space provided. Businesses, banks and individuals have “adopted” areas to keep school grounds tidy. Booster clubs, churches, and community organizations support activities and programs for students. Others provide funding for scholarships – both at graduation and to pay for school and activity fees. Individual volunteers help students in classrooms, on field trips, at dances, and in our Learning Partners Program. I have never encountered a community this giving and I am thankful to be able to serve as your superintendent.

With community support, our long-awaited elementary school covered play area and office remodel projects were completed. Our high school facilities are still a delight for students and staff, and for the many community organizations that use them for meetings and conferences. The district is exploring options through Washington State’s General Administration services to improve the energy efficiency of our elementary and middle schools at no cost to taxpayers.

Amidst the great things happening in our schools, we aren’t immune from the economic crisis. We anticipate needing to reduce next year’s budget by at least $500,000 – a figure that may increase, depending on final state and federal support for public education. Our fiscal challenge is compounded by reductions in previous years resulting from lower enrollment.

The school board and administration are trying to gather community ideas and priorities through a survey and through community meetings (visit www.coupeville.k12.wa.us for details or call 360-678-4522).

In the face of budget challenges, we are thankful for our creative and capable staff, the quality and generosity of our community, our supportive parents, and our students. We will meet our current challenges while continuing to provide high quality and effective education and continuing to improve student learning.

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