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Othello schools share feedback on strategic planning

Mar. 1—OTHELLO — Pete Perez, Superintendent of the Othello School District and Tammy Campbell, Chief Executive Officer of The Scholar First — an educational consulting organization based in Washington — shared a presentation during Monday’s Othello School Board meeting on feedback from the ongoing strategic district planning process .

“We’re about 80 to 85% through the strategic planning process. We spent about a year and a half preparing for the process and over the last few months we’ve actually been going through it,” Perez said.

Campbell discussed the feedback process involving students, staff and community members.

“If you have a broad voice and input from stakeholders, this can be a transformational process for the district,” Campbell said. “It gives the district an opportunity to really assess what’s working and what’s not. By getting a lot of people in the room and in place, you get ownership and more people committed to implementation.”

Common, shared themes in the presentation included the importance of teacher support, supporting students’ emotional well-being, diversity, family and community focus, student-centered focus, and the need for more consistent student communication and responsibility.

Perez presented student feedback.

“Students value learning and engaging classrooms. They want to feel like what they’re doing is important, that it’s relevant,” he said. “Working in a positive environment and having an interest in the subject (is important); I think that applies to all of us, even as adults.”

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Teacher support was another important element.

“One of the things (the students) shared with us is that teacher support really mattered, and that was true across all grade levels. “If the teacher believes in me, if the teacher thinks I can do it, I’m more likely to do it. be successful, so having a really caring and competent teacher was important for that,” Perez said.

Parents and community members also provided feedback.

“The idea of ​​family-centeredness, this sense of community and a sense of family, was very evident in the data,” Perez said.

Campbell said the focus on family and community was a crucial part of the responses.

“This was something overwhelming for your district,” she said. “I’ve almost never heard it said by so many people. I just want to share that.”

Parents seemed to believe that staff put students first.

“They also felt that teachers generally care about their students, that most of our staff actually believe that and act that way, and that there are some key teachers who look out for their students,” Perez said. “That was important to ensure student success.”

Perez said the district has also asked parents where it can improve.

“Discipline and conduct were identified as areas for improvement,” Perez said. “Certainly, there have been some changes in the past five years in the impact on student behavior in Washington state, so we are communicating that to some of our families who may have had students in the system before. Have we been clear enough about the communication? When we talk about our rating system and some of the changes we’ve made there? I think we’ve made some progress there, but there’s definitely still some work to be done.”

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The parents also shared what they think the priorities in the district should be.

“Student responsibility was one of them. Making sure we hold students accountable for their behavior,” Perez said. “Another was training and supporting teachers to better meet the needs of students, so that whole concept of making sure that our staff, that the challenges that they face every day in the classroom, we make sure that they’re prepared are to interact with them and provide the training and support they need.”

Perez also discussed staff responses.

“When they think about culture in Othello, here again is that theme of family-centeredness, just like we heard from our community,” he said.

Staff said the district is doing well with data-driven practices, setting high expectations for students and supporting them academically and emotionally, Perez said.

“They raised concerns about leadership and management. The same voices were getting all the attention at buildings and at the district office,” he said. “I’ve spoken to the board before about my vision for school district systems and those layers and how we operate, and I think you also see this reflected in my own superintendent’s goals to ensure that we have strong partnerships with our associations. You can see here that there is still some work to be done in that area.”

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Perez said staff also wanted to focus on continued professional development, equity and inclusivity, strategic curriculum and practices, open communication and partnership with parents and understanding student needs.

“We need to understand who our students are better,” Perez said. “Our students said, ‘Hey, we want teachers who really know us,’ and our teachers say, ‘Hey, we need to really get to know our kids.'”

Campbell shared the three core values ​​the district established during the strategic process; integrity, community and excellence.

Board members Aaron Gerber, Lindsy Mollotte Prows and Isauro Pruneda said they appreciated the community focus.

“I think we have something special in this community,” Prows said, “and I think it says a lot how many people grow up here and return here as adults or never leave.”

Gabriel Davis can be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com. Download the Columbia Basin Herald app on iOS and Android.

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