New focus for Oak Harbor schools

The 2018-2019 school year will be marked by increased sustainability education and practices for the Oak Harbor school district’s youngest students.

To drive the effort, Jodi Crimmins was hired as a garden and sustainability teacher on special assignment.

Crimmins will support the gardens at all five elementary schools and help integrate science and math curriculum into the garden teaching, she said.

“I’m really excited about our district and where it’s going right now,” she said. “I’m really passionate about these issues.”

In this new position, she will support student-led projects around composting and waste reduction and help for teachers who want to bring more of their core curriculum into the gardens. The goal is to build upon Broad View Elementary’s recent national Green Ribbon School designation by the U.S. Department of Education and become a Green Ribbon District. The award recognizes schools and districts that reduce their environmental impacts, improve wellness of staff and students and provide effective environmental and sustainability education, according to the Department of Education’s website.

While increasing sustainability outside at the elementary schools, staff at the high school will be using a new grant to increase performance inside the classroom. Oak Harbor High School is the first school in the state to receive the National Math and Science Initiative Grant.

“The whole goal is to increase student participation in AP (advanced placement) classes and remove barriers to taking AP tests,” said Associate Principal Crystal Lane.

Over the next three years the grant will pay half the testing fee, which is around $90, for the the AP math, science and English tests.

The district will cover the rest of the costs and the fees for other subject tests, Lane said.

Additionally, the organization will pay $100 to students who pass the tests. Teachers will also receive $100 for each of their students who pass.

“There’s an added incentive to try and change their practices,” Lane said.

AP teachers will be sent to three trainings a year and are given funding for school supplies and resources. Training will also be provided to teachers of classes that eventually lead to AP courses, such as freshman English or lower-level math classes.

The organization footed the bill for 33 teachers to attend training all over the U.S. over the summer, Lane said, “which was absolutely amazing.”

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