Once a year after our annual board meeting, I like to give you my perspective on the past year at North Wall Schools and our future vision for the school. At our board meeting we discussed the implementation of the mission of North Wall which is to
Nurture Wonder And Life-long Learning.
We met our 3rd year goal of transferring leadership completely from myself to Leslie Watkins, Head of School. I am now working about half a day per week when we are in town as Executive Director in supporting the continued fulfillment of our dream to “nurture excellence” at NWS.
Together we met our goal of continuing to inspire high quality teachers who believe in our mission and have the talents to implement it. Leslie has hired all of the new staff in the last 3 years, and they are used to reporting to her. The loyal long-term staff are the backbone to support the mission as well. Our low staff turn-over rate rose a bit in Leslie’s second year and now has returned to 19% with the longevity still being 5 years. We also felt like we met the goal of supporting the staff in continuing their pursuit of further knowledge and education. All of our staff attended some form of educational workshop outside of the school as well as the monthly in-services and the semi-annual 2-day in-depth trainings offered at the school. In addition, two of our staff are enrolled in post graduate courses.
Global Connection and Community Service:
Another goal that we met was to continue to support North Wall children in learning Spanish and discovering more about Latin American culture; our elementary students performed Latin American songs and dances during the school year. In addition, we supported the Mission Community Outreach Center, 2nd Harvest Food Bank, and the American Heart Association in the community.
Long Term Resources:
Another goal was to provide long term resources to sustain the operation of the program. We have developed strong leaders by sponsoring our Executive Director and our Director of Operations to attend the Global Leadership Summit and also sponsoring our Gifted and Talented Instructor to attend the Washington Education for the Talented and Gifted Conference. We have improved the campus by re-roofing the administrative building and adding a new entry way gate and fence.
We continue to meet our commitment to providing a challenging, well-rounded, individualized project-oriented curriculum by teaching literature, math, science, engineering, and technology, as well as art, PE, music, and Spanish. We are approximately one-half of the way to our goal of providing an iPad, Chromebook, or laptop for every student in our elementary program. We celebrated learning through many culminating activities such as monthly field trips, an all-school play at Christmas, an elementary play in the winter, an Art Fair, a Science Fair, participation in Invent Washington, and an elementary spring trip at the end of the school year.
Even though we do not “teach to the test”, our 2nd graders exceeded the achievement standards on the ITBS standardized test administered to them last spring, and our 3rd-6th graders scores exceeded the achievement standards on the Smarter Balance, Washington State’s standardized tests given to all public school students. We use SMART goals for our collaborative goal setting process with students, parents, and teachers, and we assess all students 3 times per year using Progress Reports to see each student advancing.
I am excited to be the Executive Director of such a thriving school and am grateful that students are able to attend North Wall up through 6th grade. We have four 6th-graders graduating this year, which is the largest class yet. One of them is my granddaughter, Hannah, who has attended NWS for 12 years since she was an infant, so this is a time of rejoicing for me! The program is exemplary and unique in individualizing for the gifted child as well as all children. In the future, I see the school growing and continuing to be a place where each student is honored for his/her God-given talents and encouraged to be a well-educated servant-leader in the world. I am honored to be able to continue my lifelong commitment to this school even while I am semi-retired!