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We Got on the Focus on Education Week Bus Tour!

Patch jumped on the bus along with other members of the community Tuesday for an enlightening tour of schools in the Enumclaw School District.

Did you know that this week was Focus on Education week?

For the Washington Assocation of School Administrators, this week is intended for school leaders including Enumclaw Schools Superintendent to share with members of the community what is going on in local classrooms these days, celebrate the achievements of local students and build community support and understanding with regards to their child(ren)'s education.

To that end, Nelson and district staff extended an invitation to all community members who were interested in local schools to embark on a bus tour of three schools in the district that were representative of all grade levels.

A small group -- there were seven of us -- accepted the invitation, so off we went to check out a smart classroom as well as career and technical classes like woodshop and jewelry-making at , elective classes in music and art at , and then see for ourselves how important full-day kindergarten is for building a foundation of learning for a child at .

These were just some of the highlights of the tour; the bigger take-away from the day's experience for us here at Patch anyway was that there are some cool things happening in the district:

  • This is the first year all eight schools (5 elementary, 2 middle, 1 high school) all have some form of a parent-teacher organization in place to support their respective schools.
  • The Enumclaw Schools Foundation, a separate non-profit organization that works to raise funds to help support programs in the district, this year was able to offer 23 scholarships for full-day kindergarten at all five elementary schools.
  • , a community-wide effort to encourage a spirit of kindness, is going strong and culminating in a community event in March 2012.
  • The School Board this year has elected to take its monthly workshops on the road -- setting up shop at each school in the district this year in order to meet teachers where they are and make it easier for parents to come and participate. Click here to check out its schedule for the remainder of the school year.
  • Classrooms at each school are getting set up with '' that feature interactive technologies that hopefully will stimulate student participation and learning.
  • Enumclaw High School this year is again spearheading the effort to prepare Thanksgiving food baskets for 150 families in the district. Students are collecting foil roasting pans, 10-12 pound turkeys, evaporated milk, box dry mashed potatoes, canned sweet potatoes, canned vegetables, canned olives, stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, and canned pumpkin up until this Friday, November 18.

While the event was largely a celebration of the work being done in the district, it was also an opportunity for participants to offer suggestions and criticisms of current district operations.

Communication was an issue that one parent said needed some work.

Participants also couldn't hold back their curiosity over how the district might weather the imminent storm coming, thanks to a state Legislature special session slated to start at the end of this month to deal with the latest reports of a $1.4 billion budget shortfall in tax revenue through June 2013.

Nelson was cautious in answering those questions to avoid speculation but did touch on the vulnerable but vital Levy Equalization Assistance (LEA) for Enumclaw, which provides a state match to 'property poor' school districts to lessen the differences in taxes paid for local levies.

The district has, in the past, received as much as $900,000 in support thanks to LEA, Nelson said, but if the Legislature eliminates it, the district could lose $686,000 for the current school year.

No doubt some depressing news. However, we here at Patch can think of two things to lighten the mood: cute kids and food.

For the former, check out the video that accompanies this story of a full-day kindergarten class at Black Diamond singing 'Itsy Bitsy Spider."

For the latter, here is "Grandma Patty's Apple Crisp" recipe, found in a cookbook compiled by the Black Diamond Elementary PTA:

  • 4 cups of apples, sliced (Granny Smith are best)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Boil cornstarch, butter, sugar and water to make syrup mixture, stirring constantly. When it is thick, remove from heat. Mix flour, butter, brown sugar and oatmeal to make crust mixture and set aside. Put 1/2 crust on bottom of 8x8 greased pan. Put 4 cups of apples over crust. Pour syrup over the apples. Cover with the second half of the crust mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Apples can be substituted with rhubarb. - Grandma Patty

Patch and all participants on Tuesday's tour received a complimentary copy of this great cookbook filled with all kinds of great recipes, courtesy of Principal Gerrie Garton.

See what you missed?

We'd like to thank Mike Nelson for making this tour possible and we hope he'll host another opportunity for the community to come see and hear about what is going on in your child(ren)'s classrooms these days. It is a full morning commitment, but if you can make the time, we say it's totally worth it.

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