Battle Ground teacher named Elementary Art Educator of the Year

posted Jun 16, 2017, 3:58 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Jun 22, 2017, 12:50 PM ]

Battle Ground teacher named Elementary Art Educator of the Year

June 16, 2017

Andrea Johnston, an art teacher at Tukes Valley Primary School, has been named the Washington Art Education Association’s (WAEA) 2017 Elementary Art Educator of the Year. The annual award seeks to recognize outstanding professionalism, service, promotion and support of the arts by individual art educators in the state.
Johnston is a National Board Certified Teacher Leader, has been a delegate with the National Art Education Association to Cuba, has received a number of grants, and has served on school district committees writing scope and sequence guides and classroom-based performance assessments.  
Johnston has been an art teacher at Tukes Valley Primary in the Battle Ground Public Schools district since the school first opened in 2008. She said that at the primary school, it’s important to ensure that lessons are developmentally appropriate and take students’ interests into account. “Art creates an opportunity to strengthen students’ sense of community and identity, and I’ve found that you get more buy-in from students when you take the time to really get to know them and their interests,” Johnston said.
After being nominated by her peers for the award, Johnston outscored other candidates on WAEA’s comprehensive scoring rubric to become this year’s Art Educator of the Year Award recipient. The WAEA scorers noted that Battle Ground Public Schools commended her for her collaboration with colleagues, and that numerous letters of support were submitted to the WAEA from her school community — including past and present principals — endorsing her nomination as a candidate for the Elementary Art Educator of the Year award.
“It’s apparent that Andrea loves her job and is passionate about arts education,” said Tukes Valley Middle School Art Instructor Debbie Supplitt. “She understands that visual art establishes a foundation for schoolwide culture, and she works hard to keep students’ artwork displayed throughout the school and in the local community.”   
The award will be presented to Johnston during a WAEA gala event in the fall, with the date and location yet to be announced. Johnston will also be congratulated at the NAEA convention next spring at the downtown Seattle Convention center as part of an elementary education luncheon event. By receiving this award, Johnston also becomes eligible for future nominations for regional and national recognition.
 More information about WAEA and this award can be found at

BGPS seniors reflect, offer advice to next year's freshmen

posted Jun 15, 2017, 11:07 AM by Joe Vajgrt

BGPS Seniors reflect, offer advice to next year's freshmen

June 15, 2017

More than 1,000 seniors will graduate from Battle Ground Public Schools this week, and we’re proud of and impressed by each and every one of them! We asked a few outstanding graduates about their favorite high school memories , what advice they’d give to next year’s freshman class, and what their plans are now that they’ve completed their high school education. Below are their responses, in their own words. 
Timothy Basarab, Summit View High School
My favorite high school memory was having conversations and building relationships with the teachers at Summit View. They are all so great; they're supportive, genuine, intelligent, hardworking, funny, and they all have their own awesome personalities. 
My advice to incoming freshmen is to keep your head up. High school really is what you decide to make it. If you come with a bad attitude, then don't expect good results. But if you come in with a good attitude and personality, then you will enjoy it and you will build great memories and relationships with other students and teachers. 
My post-graduation plans are, God willing, to build a career, possibly seek further education via college, travel some more, go on a mission trip, and build a house and a family someday. 

Hana Wyles, Battle Ground High Schoo
​​My favorite memory from high school was winning 3rd place at the 4A Volleyball state tournament. 
The advice I would give to freshmen is to get involved in as many clubs, sports, and activities as possible. As cliche as it sounds, your time in high school will fly by, so take every opportunity you can to make memories. 
In the fall, I will attend Dominican University of California on a volleyball scholarship. I was also awarded a Public School Employee scholarship.

Ben Shannon, Battle Ground High School
My favorite memory from high school comes from last year, when I first started working with younger students as a tutor. The tutoring experience as a whole has been very eye opening for me, and I've learned a lot from it. Being able to see the impact I've had in the lives of other students is always a surreal experience, and to me, there is nothing more rewarding. I think I will carry all of my tutoring/mentoring memories with me for a long, long time.
My advice to incoming freshman is to be yourself and remember to aim for the things that are important. I think so often kids can get lost when they get to high school, trying to fit in or "be cool." For me, this notion of being popular and cool has been something which I quickly found to be unimportant. Family, friendships, and academic efforts come first in my life. I hope that all high school students can someday learn this same lesson.
In the fall, I will be attending George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. I plan to study psychology, and one day I hope to earn my master’s degree.

Ashyln Griffith, Prairie High School
My favorite memory was the color wars assembly because it brought our entire senior class together. We won the prize for “most spirited” class, which meant that Principal Drake had to dye his hair orange.
My advice to next year’s freshmen is to dedicate yourself to studies all four years of high school. Reach out to those classmates that you might not usually interact with. Making a lot of friends can be good, but having a few solid friendships that you know you can rely on is what will get you through your high school years. Stay true to who you are and let personality shine instead of conforming to what others want you to be.
In the fall, I’m going to WSU-Vancouver. I want to major in psychology and minor in biology. My goal is to someday become an occupational therapist and work with special needs kids. 
Ethan Rouse, Prairie High School
My favorite memories from high school were playing on the Falcons basketball team. In my four years of playing varsity basketball, my teammates and I developed a great deal of camaraderie. The team became like a second family to me. 

I would tell next year’s freshmen not to just go along with what everyone else wants you to do. Be yourself, and remember that you’re probably going to come out of high school with just a few real friends.
After graduating, I’ll be joining the navy. I ship out sometime in September or October, so I’ll be spending part of the summer with family back in Indiana. I’m also looking forward to playing basketball in a men’s league.

Emily Gonzales, CAM Academy
My favorite high school memory was when a large group of guys from my grade decided to re-enact in the lunchroom a musical that they had come up with in 8th grade. The memories that it brought back to those who remembered how hilarious it had been when they had done it originally, and the weird looks given by the other grades who had no idea what was occurring, was priceless.
My advice to incoming freshman is to enjoy every day of high school and to participate in every event that you can. A lot of times, freshman like to come in with an attitude of "too cool for school dances" or just not wanting to participate in events meant to foster school spirit. I would want them to know that by participating in these events and by possibly making a fool out of themselves in order to show how much they care about our school, they will automatically make their high school experience so much better.
After I graduate, I’m hoping to get a job for the summer before attending Azusa Pacific University in the fall. I am hoping to get my degree as an elementary school teacher with a minor in TESL (teaching English as a second language). Since I had a fairly high GPA, I earned the highest annual academic scholarship that my school offered, as well as an additional $1,000 per year for being eligible for and enrolling in the school's Honors college. 

Victoria (Tori) McCormic, CAM Academy
My favorite high school memory was during this year’s spirit week when the entire high school was gathered in the commons for our assembly. Each grade level was competing against each other for spirit points, and since this was our last spirit assembly as seniors, we wanted to make a grand entrance for our final "hurrah." We entered the commons waving our class flag and marching to the Olympic theme song. While the senior class didn’t end up winning, I still look back at that moment as one of the most satisfying that I experienced while at CAM.

The best advice I could give to future high school students is to find a good group of friends and stick with them. I don't mean any group of friends, I mean a good, quality group with whom you share common, core interests. The only way I have been able to make it through high school is because I was fortunate enough to be surrounded with people who really cared about me and wanted me to succeed. I can attest that without a doubt, having that group made all the difference. Getting into a solid group who pushes you to study harder, but who also pushes you to have fun every once in awhile, is probably the best decision any freshman could make. After all, there is so much to learn from the people who surround you!

After graduating, I plan to attend Boise State University and finish my pre-med studies. I received the Gem (non-resident tuition waiver) scholarship from Boise State, totaling $60,000 over the next four years. After that, I hope to attend medical school and become a doctor of osteopathy, specializing in physical therapy or sports medicine. While I am a little nervous to see how smooth my transition to college goes, I am looking forward to the new experiences and new lessons I will learn as I enter into this new chapter of my life.

Free summer meals program offers nutritious meals to kids during summer months

posted Jun 12, 2017, 11:22 AM by Joe Vajgrt


June 12, 2017

Children and teens ages 1-18 can enjoy a free lunch this summer through the Simplified Summer Food Program (SSFP) for children. The program is funded through a grant from the Department of Agriculture and provides lunches Monday through Friday at two Battle Ground locations. 

The program will be offered in Battle Ground at: 
Kiwanis Park, 422 SW Second Ave., from June 28-Aug. 18. Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. 
River HomeLink School Cafeteria, 610A SW Eaton Blvd., from July 10-Aug. 4. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Sponsored by Battle Ground Public Schools, the program addresses the need for nutritious meals during the summer months when school is not in session. Children do not need to attend a Battle Ground school to participate; all children and teens are welcome. 

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. 

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by mail to U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or by fax at (202) 690-7442; or by email:

BGPS bids a fond farewell to 43 retirees

posted Jun 8, 2017, 9:37 AM by Joe Vajgrt

BGPS bids a fond farewell to 43 retirees

June 8, 2017

Battle Ground Public Schools is saying goodbye to many employees this year as they prepare for retirement. The following is a list of employees stepping into the next phase of their lives. Join us in wishing them all the best.
Served 35 Years or More in Battle Ground Public Schools
Terry Kenck, Chief Umtuch Middle School, 39 years of service, sixth grade teacher
Gary Erickson, Laurin Middle School, 37 years of service, shop teacher
Served 30-34 Years
Marion Baty, Chief Umtuch Middle School, 34 years of service, fifth grade teacher
Diane Lewis-Lund, Yacolt Primary School, 34 years of service, center-based classroom teacher
Steve Beecroft, Prairie High School, 33 years of service, science teacher
Mary Morgan, Chief Umtuch Middle School, 32 years of service, center-based classroom teacher
Laurie Thurman, Summit View High School, 32 years of service, family and consumer sciences teacher
Laurie Amash, Laurin Middle School, 31 years of service, assistant secretary
Patricia Pisarczyk, Pleasant Valley Middle School, 30 years of service, head secretary
Diane Brown, Battle Ground High School, 30 years of service, center-based classroom teacher

Served 25-29 Years
Theresa Ryan, Tukes Valley Primary School, 29 years of service, pre-school teacher
James Brothers, Amboy Middle School, 28 years of service, eight grade teacher
Donna Watrin, Pleasant Valley Primary School, 28 years of service, math intervention specialist
Karla Kalian, Battle Ground High School, 27 years of service, assistant principal
Paul White, Pleasant Valley Middle School, 27 years of service, health and fitness teacher
Deborah Langevin, Pleasant Valley campus, 27 years of service, custodian
Diane Mason, Tukes Valley Primary School, 26 years of service, support services instructional assistant, English as a second language

Served 20-24 Years
Terese Smykowski, Laurin Middle School, 24 years of service, basic education assistant
Emily Meek, River HomeLink, 24 years of service, drama/writing teacher
David Richardson, Prairie High School, 24 years of service, photography teacher
Evan Irwin, Pleasant Valley Middle School, 21 years of service, band teacher
Robert Winston, Glenwood Heights Primary School, 21 years of service, school psychologist
Larry Delamarter, River HomeLink, 21 years of service, history teacher
Served 15-19 Years
Nancy Bone, Chief Umtuch Middle School, 19 years of service, art specialist
Bobbi Passant, Battle Ground High School, 19 years of service, campus security
Charles Crowson, Operations, 19 years of service, HVAC technician
Cheryl Freese, Battle Ground High School, 18 years of service, special education assistant /basic education assistant
Nadine Nakagawa, Battle Ground High School, 18 years of service, resource room teacher
Lori Walker, Chief Umtuch Middle School, 17 years of service, special education assistant / basic education assistant
Susan Lee, Yacolt Primary School, 17 years of service, resource room teacher
Ronald Jensen, Battle Ground High School, 15 years of service, resource room teacher
Served 10-14 Years
Georgianne O’Donnell, Laurin Middle School, 14 years of service, sixth grade teacher
Brenda Richardson, Prairie High School, 14 years of service, science teacher
Dora Swart, Battle Ground High School, 12 years of service, assistant principal
Jann Byrd, Prairie High School, 12 years of service, assistant principal
Bill Penrose, Summit View High School, 12 years of service, principal
Julie Backous, CASEE A, 12 years of service, administrative assistant to the superintendent and board of directors
Barbara Maehara, River HomeLink, 11 years of service, science teacher
Served 1-9 Years
Ginger Reyes, Laurin Middle School, 9 years of service, special education assistant
Irma Edgerly, Daybreak Primary School, 8 years of service, teacher librarian
Patti Trotter, Prairie High School, 7 years of service, special education assistant
Jana Hart, Laurin Middle School, 5 years of service, choir teacher
Mark Hottowe, CASEE A, 3 years of service, superintendent
Thank you all for your years of service to public education!

BGHS senior receives prestigious National Merit Scholarship

posted Jun 7, 2017, 4:53 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Jun 8, 2017, 9:46 AM ]

BGHS senior receives prestigious National Merit Scholarship 

June 7, 2017

Battle Ground High School senior Danielle Keerbs has been awarded a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship to Washington State University. Keerbs is one of approximately 7,500 national finalists offered a scholarship by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which has a mission to recognize and honor exceptional, academically talented students in the U.S. and encourage the pursuit of and a more profound respect for learning and academic excellence at all education levels.

Keerbs will attend WSU-Pullman next year to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine with a focus on large animals and wildlife. She would also like to be a part-time author and has already written first drafts of several books that she wants to publish. 
“I have definitely changed and grown throughout my time in high school, and I have my teachers, friends, coaches, and family to thank for that,” Keerbs said. “My teachers at BGHS have influenced me greatly." Keerbs credits English teachers Heather Smithline and Anna Hidden with teaching her to expand her mind and discover new, creative ways to express ideas. "They were always willing to discuss or debate any topic, which allowed me to develop a more cohesive view of the world and myself as a person," Keerbs said. Keerbs also has kudos for math teacher Chad Karlsson, who taught her to think outside the box analytically and to never give up on a problem, especially when it seems impossible. And in middle school, Keerbs said her eighth grade English teacher, Lisa Vea, encouraged her to pursue her dreams and never let anything stand in her way.

About 1.6 million juniors from more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which serves as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of about 16,000 semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. 

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the semi-finalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. 
Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

BGPS announces administrative changes for the 2017-18 school year

posted Jun 1, 2017, 4:04 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Jun 1, 2017, 4:55 PM by Rita Sanders ]

BGPS announces administrative changes for the 2017-18 school year

June 1, 2017

Battle Ground Public Schools announces administrative changes for the 2017-18 school year, including principals, assistant principals and directors. The administrators will begin their new positions July 1.


Andy Schoonover
 (left) is taking over as principal at Summit View High School for Bill Penrose, who is retiring. Schoonover is currently the assistant principal at Pleasant Valley Middle School. Before that he was the athletic director and assistant principal at Prairie High School, taught social studies at Lewisville Middle and Battle Ground High schools, served as a basketball and football coach, and was the assistant principal of Chief Umtuch Middle School. Schoonover has a master's degree from Concordia University 
and a bachelor's degree in social studies education from Washington State University.

Ken Evans (right) is taking over as principal at Glenwood Heights Primary School. Evans is currently the principal at Yacolt Primary School, where he has been since 2003 after starting out as an assistant principal. Ken previously taught 6th and 7th grade core subjects at Laurin Middle School from 1993-2003. Evans has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound, a master’s from the University of Utah, professional education certificates from St. Martin’s College, and principal certification from WSU-Vancouver. 
David Kennedy (left), will be the new principal at Yacolt Primary School. He is currently the principal at Glenwood Heights, and before that Kennedy was an assistant principal at Daybreak Primary and Middle schools beginning in 2007, with teaching experience dating back to 1997. Kennedy has his bachelor’s in music education from the University of Idaho and master’s degree in educational leadership from WSU-Vancouver.   

Krishna Smith will be the new assistant principal at Pleasant Valley Middle School. Smith has been with the BGPS district for almost 11 years, starting out as a math and English language arts teacher at Lewisville in 2006, and then at Daybreak Middle School as a math and science teacher from 2007-16. This year Krishna has been a math and ELA teacher, as well as an administrative intern at Laurin Middle School. Prior to working in education, Smith was a landscape architect project manager from 1995-2005. Her bachelor’s degree is in landscape architecture from Purdue University, and she has a master’s in teaching from WSU-Vancouver and an initial administrator’s license from Concordia University.

Battle Ground High School will have two new assistant principals. Erick Suksdorf (left) will be a new assistant principal at BGHS, where he has been the special education program coordinator since 2013. Erick has a bachelor’s degree in special education from City University of Seattle, a master’s in education from Grand Canyon University, and an educational leadership principal and program certification from City University of Seattle. 

Heather Ichimura is joining Erick as a new assistant principal at Battle Ground High School. Ichimura is coming to the district from Mercer Middle School in Virginia where she has been an assistant principal since 2015, and held various leadership and teaching roles for the Loudon County Public Schools district since 2011. Before moving to Virginia, Ichimura taught math and social studies at BGHS from 2007-11. She has a bachelor’s degree in social studies education from Western Oregon University, a master’s in teaching and learning from Washington State University, and an administrative certificate in educational leadership from George Washington University. Suksdorf and Ichimura are replacing Karla Kalian and Dora Swart, both of whom resigned for personal reasons.

Lindsay McQuiston will be a new assistant principal at Prairie High School, filling the position vacated by Jann Byrd, who is retiring. McQuiston has been a math teacher at PHS since 2012 and an administrative intern at PHS and Tukes Valley Primary, filling in for absent administrators for the last two years. McQuiston taught math in Puerto Rico from 2007-09 and in Spain from 2009-11. She has a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Puget Sound, a master’s in teaching secondary mathematics from Colorado College, and an initial administrator license from Concordia University in Portland. 

District Administrators

Mark Ross (left) has been named as the next superintendent for BGPS. He'll replace Mark Hottowe, who is retiring. Ross has been the district’s assistant superintendent of teaching and learning since 2014. Ross started his career in 1982 as a language arts teacher and athletic coach at Camas High School. He also taught and coached in the Issaquah and Renton school districts before serving as assistant principal and dean of students at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Wash. In 2000, Ross returned to southwest Washington where he held assistant principal, athletic director, and principal positions in the Evergreen and Vancouver school districts. He also had stints as the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning at Washougal School District and the executive director of secondary education at Evergreen School District.

Denny Waters (right) has been named the new deputy superintendent. He will oversee the district's Teaching and Learning and Operations departments. Waters has been the district’s executive director of special services for the past five years. He has a bachelor’s in education from University of Hawaii at Manoa, a master’s in special education and teaching from Lewis and Clark College, and earned his superintendent credentials from Washington State University. 

llen Wiessner (left) will fill Denny Waters’ role as the new executive director of special services. Wiessner has been with BGPS since 1993, working as a school psychologist, a behavior consultant, and her most recent position as the director of special services. She has a bachelor’s in psychology from Portland State University, a master’s in psychology from Eastern Washington University, and a graduate certificate in educational leadership from City University of Seattle. 

To fill the position vacated by Ellen Wiessner, Cynthia Christensen has been hired as the next director of special services. Christensen has 21 years of experience in education, having held various roles including the director of special services for Evergreen Public Schools, principal and vice principal positions, a behavior specialist, and special education teacher. She also has eight years of community mental health experience. Christensen has a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, a master’s of education from Texas Tech University, an administrative license from Portland State University, and an education administration certificate from City University in Vancouver.   

Meagan Hayden (right) has been named the director of school finance. Hayden has served as the interim director of school finance since MaryBeth Lynn retired earlier this year, and before that was BGPS’ lead fiscal accountant since 2013. Prior to joining the district, Hayden worked as a CPA for 11 years in the private sector. She has a bachelor’s in accounting and finance from Washington State University and a school business specialist certification from the Washington Association of School Business Officials. 

In photo from left to right:  Cynthia Christensen, director of Special Services; Krishna Smith, new assistant principal at Pleasant Valley Middle School; Erick Suksdorf, new assistant principal at Battle Ground High School; Andy Schoonover, new principal at Summit View High School; Lindsay McQuiston, new assistant principal at Prairie High School; and (not pictured) Heather Ichimura, new assistant principal at Battle Ground High School.

Kindergarten class spreads warmth with quilt project

posted May 26, 2017, 1:58 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated May 31, 2017, 2:43 PM ]

Kindergarten class spreads warmth with quilt project

May 25, 2017

Kindergarten student Lanelle Muonio had a special request for her teacher, Samantha Tuson: instead of sharing her narrative from that day’s writing workshop with just her kindergarten peers, Lanelle asked if she could also share her story with the “olders” to ask for some help.

The “olders” in this case refer to the high school students who are part of the older-younger program at Battle Ground High School. The program, which has been a part of Battle Ground Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) program for more than 30 years, pairs kindergarteners from Captain Strong Primary with high school students who are interested in pursuing careers in education.

With all the youngers and olders gathered, Lanelle shared that her cousin Katelyn, whom she is very close with, was in the hospital receiving treatment for cancer. Lanelle told her classmates and older mentors that she hoped to visit her cousin in the hospital, and she wanted some ideas that could help cheer up Katelyn.

The group held a discussion, sharing ideas until a plan was hatched: the class would create a bright, colorful quilt inscribed with sweet thoughts and well wishes to help keep Katelyn warm and cozy while she’s in the hospital. The students also decided to assemble a gift basket to give Katelyn since they felt worried that she was missing out on all the fun learning opportunities that they were enjoying in school.

To make the quilt, the kindergarten students started off by brainstorming with their older mentors what they would write and draw. Each student then practiced on a blank sheet of paper the size of a quilt square before turning them in to Mrs. Tuson and Ms. Christina Wood, who teaches the high school portion of the class. Next, the olders transferred the kindergarten students’ designs onto fabric, and then the olders and youngers worked together to decorate their pieces of the quilt with fabric markers and puffy paint. Once all of the students' sections were completed, the class also made a square for the entire class, and one with Katelyn’s name on it.

Once all of the squares were ready, the quilt was assembled by some of Katelyn's other relatives, Mia Kaski and her sister, who both volunteered their time for the project. With the quilt completed, the kindergarten class assembled their gift basket, which included a first grade workbook, the class’s favorite Dr. Seuss book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” a stuffed animal, the games Uno and Chutes and Ladders (the class’ favorite math game), and of course, plenty of handwritten notes wishing Katelyn well.

All in all, the project took about a month and a half to complete. “It was great to see the passion that this project inspired,” Tuson said. “We’re always looking for opportunities to build empathy in kindergarten classes, and this was a wonderful, real-world example of how to show compassion for others and to help someone else feel better.”

“The older-younger program helps develop strong, deep, personal connections,” said high school teacher Christina Wood. “This project completely embodies that mission, and it was very rewarding for everyone involved.”

Through the older-younger program, high school students visit the kindergarten class for 55 minutes, three times a week. There are 21 high school students and 21 kindergartners in the program this year. The youngers in the program benefit from more one-on-one instructional time than just one teacher can provide, and working with high school students helps the kindergartners to develop social skills. The class focuses on turning unstructured play time into productive, educational time which is a component of the Full Day Kindergarten Guidelines published by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for kindergarten classes in Washington.

For the high school students in the class, the main benefit of the older-younger program is the hands-on teaching experience they receive. Students who pass the class leave with a State Training and Registry System (STARS) certification (the initial certification needed to work in the childcare field in Washington) and three technical preparation credits from Clark College.
“I approach teaching this class like it’s both a job and a college-level course,” Wood said. “For students who decide they want to pursue teaching or childcare as a career, gaining actual work experience and a certification makes a huge difference.”

Samantha Tuson was once an older herself, an experience she credits for helping her realize that she did in fact want to become a teacher. “The older-younger program is a unique opportunity,” Tuson said. “If you know a student who wants to become a teacher, this program is an amazing option.”

Superintendent Hottowe presented with Student Achievement Leadership Award

posted May 24, 2017, 3:51 PM by Joe Vajgrt


May 24, 2017

Superintendent Mark Hottowe was awarded the Student Achievement Leadership Award at a ceremony on Friday, May 19 at the Educational Service District (ESD) 112 in Vancouver. The award was given in recognition of Battle Ground Public Schools' innovative programs focused on improving student achievement. Hottowe, who is retiring at the end of June, was also presented with a Retirement Award. 

ESD 112 presented the regional awards on behalf of the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) to honor and recognize outstanding educational administrators and community members who have made extraordinary contributions to K-12 education. 

"Unlike private or charter schools, our public schools welcome all students regardless of size, color, background, income or ability," said Mike Nerland, Chair of the WASA Awards for Region 112 and Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning at ESD 112. "For many children, public education is the only hope for creating a vibrant life and future success. We're proud to recognize and celebrate those who dedicate their time, talent, and attention to making our public schools the best they can be for our children." 

Throughout Superintendent Hottowe's 41 years in education, he repeatedly demonstrated a heart for vulnerable and under served youth. He spent his career helping to change school culture and climate through programs that reduce risk factors, build resiliency, and enable positive learning environments. He created the Social-Emotional Learning Department in Battle Ground and led the implementation of the Project AWARE grant, resulting in significantly decreased suspensions at the district's high schools. 

"While I believe strongly in the importance of curriculum, instruction, and learning, my core belief is that the social-emotional health and the physical health of students is paramount," said Hottowe. "We've had the opportunity over the years to do some truly remarkable things. This award belongs to the great people in our community who believe in our work and believe in the needs of students." 

At the event, Colleen O'Neal of the Battle Ground Education Foundation was also presented with the Community Leadership Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to education.

River HomeLink Theater II to perform "Beauty and the Beast"

posted May 19, 2017, 3:42 PM by Joe Vajgrt

River HomeLink Theater II to perform "Beauty and the beast" 

May 19, 2017

River HomeLink Theater II will be performing the non-Disney version of the musical "Beauty and the Beast" June 2 and 3 at Battle Ground High School, 300 W. Main St. in Battle Ground. 

Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast's hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.

Tickets are just $2 and can be purchased at the door just prior to each performance or online at dates and times are as follows:

Friday, June 2 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 3 at 7 p.m. 

Technology shapes learning for Battle Ground students

posted May 18, 2017, 3:49 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated May 18, 2017, 4:40 PM ]

Technology shapes learning for battle ground students

May 18, 2017

When students take their seats in Pleasant Valley Middle School teacher Tyler Tugaw’s class, the first thing they do is open their computers and begin typing. A casual observer might assume that this class is focused on technology or computer skills, but a pilot program for Battle Ground Public Schools’ one-to-one computer initiative has reshaped how seventh graders study nearly every subject, including English language arts (ELA).

In January, Battle Ground launched a 1:1 (one-to-one) computing initiative to put a Chromebook into the hands of every student in grades 3-12 for use at school and at home. The initiative will be rolled out over the next few years, beginning with seventh and eighth graders in the fall. Seventh graders at Pleasant Valley, Tukes Valley and Amboy middle schools were selected to participate in a pilot program this semester. Because students check out the devices to use both at school and at home, teachers have the opportunity to integrate them into their daily lessons.

The students in Tugaw’s ELA class know that each day they will write something. Indeed, on a daily basis, Tugaw assigns his seventh graders a writing task that requires them to edit and revise their compositions and provide feedback to their peers. It's true that writing is a regular part of the typical ELA class, but having access to personal computers is changing the way students approach their learning.

Tugaw says that since the launch of the 1:1 computing initiative, his students have taken much more ownership of their learning and applied more effort, maturity, and personal responsibility to their academics. “On a far more regular, almost daily basis, students are putting in effort at home to complete homework, missing and late assignments, and project work that is not getting done in class,” Tugaw said. “Several times a week I receive emails from students notifying me about assignments they have turned in, or asking questions about an assignment they’re missing while at home sick.”

The one-to-one initiative also allows for more collaboration between students, both in the classroom and at home. While in the classroom, students can easily share their work and collaborate, either by sharing a document or reading and commenting on blog posts of their peers to provide constructive feedback. Collaboration on assignments is also happening outside the classroom. “Students are emailing their peers to discuss assignments and provide assistance to one another, which wasn’t as often the case before the students were assigned their own Chromebooks,” Tugaw said.

The opportunities for collaboration aren’t just limited to student interactions. Amboy Middle School history teacher Fiona Engebretson used the technology to connect her classroom with experts all around the world. In early April, Engebretson organized a Google Hangouts video conference with medieval scholar Lydia Fleming, who is currently wrapping up her Ph.D. at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Engebretson's students submitted questions about the role of women in medieval history, then Engebretson picked 10 questions for her students to ask Fleming during the live video conference on the Chromebooks.  

“This is a great teaching tool, and the face time with an expert really kept the students engaged and helped bring the topic to life,” Engebretson said. “Providing our students with equal access to technology opens up incredible new learning opportunities for them.” Based on the success of this project, Engebretson is planning more Google Hangouts.

Tugaw agrees that the one-to-one initiative is helping to keep students engaged. “It is my goal that all of my students learn to read and write well independently, conduct their own research, and be inquisitive about our world as a whole, all while providing them skills that will help them be successful in the twenty-first century,” Tugaw said. “The one-to-one initiative has been instrumental in helping to achieve all of these classroom goals.”

"These teachers are demonstrating activities that the 1:1 initiative will bring to all students,"  said Scott McDaniel, the district’s director of technology. “Great things are happening in our classrooms, and I’m really proud of the work our teachers and students have put into this program.”

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