Longview teachers have class

We’re proud of our educators and are taking this opportunity to introduce you to two of them, in their own words. They have different interests but share a passion for preparing Longview students for successful futures!

This is a supplement to the Longview Public Schools annual report. Both Gail Wells and Sam Kell are featured in the printed version of the annual report.  

Gail Wells, math teacher, Monticello Middle School.

Gail Wells believes everyone can do math. She works the room and uses technology to gauge how much each student understands, even those who never raise their hands.

Where did you grow up and go to school? I was born in North Dakota and grew up in Federal Way, Washington. I was in the first graduating class at Thomas Jefferson High School in Auburn and went to Western Washington University for a degree in home economics.

How did you get from home economics to math? My passion was food and nutrition, but math is completely entrenched in home economics—measuring food, finance, sewing …

Why do people think math is so hard? Society doesn’t allow people not to be “readers,” but for some reason it’s OK to not be good at math. The mindset should be that “I can do it,” because everyone can.

How long have you been teaching? Twenty-six or 27 years—10 years at St. Helens and 10 years at Robert Gray, with four years as a math coach at Kessler and Robert Gray. Now I’m finishing at Monticello Middle School.

How has teaching math changed? When I was in school, it was, “Here is how you do it. Now copy what I do.” We don’t do that anymore. Instead of just handing students an algorithm or a way to do something, we do a lot of concrete building of understanding before moving to the abstract.

What is the best thing about being a teacher? That look on a student’s face when they “get it”—it’s priceless.

What are some of the keys to being a good teacher? Number one is understanding what the goal is. For me it’s the state standards—I have to know what the students need to know. Also …

  • Making sure the students get the needed feedback so they can self-evaluate.
  • Being ready when they walk through the door—knowing where you’re going and how to get there, not just turning the page on the book and teaching them what’s on the next page.
  • Adjusting if the students are not getting it.

The big thing here at Monticello is I have an amazing teaching partner, Phil Hartley. We collaborate, do assessments, reflect on student work, talk about the goals and are transparent about our work. Today we are going to share kids and do some interventions, so we can get them where they need to be right now.

To be a good teacher, it’s everything, including a great administration that supports you. It’s not just one thing.

What advice do you have for new teachers? Don’t think you already know everything. I’ve been teaching for 26 or 27 years, and every year I learn something new. Every year I get better. So listen to your colleagues, listen to your students, and be willing to adapt. Be a part of the team.

What’s something people might not know about you? I’ve been making gingerbread houses for 30 years. I have two sons who were in the armed service—one still is. I send gingerbread houses to Afghanistan and Bosnia. My daughter taught English in South Korea, so I sent one to her.

What would you tell the community about what life is like in school? When those kids come up the stairs and say hi to me, it’s wonderful. It’s the best place in the world to work.

What are students like today? Students are considerate of each other. They want to do their best—they want to succeed.

Anything else? This is my last year of teaching. I want to have more time with my family and visit my grandchildren—I have six. My career as a teacher has been an amazing journey. I feel deeply blessed by every student I’ve ever had.

 

 

Sam Kell, industrial arts teacher, Mark Morris High School

Sam Kell practices what he teaches. At school, he introduces pre-apprenticeship students (pg. 3) to technical skills like carpentry. In his spare time, he works on his own fixer-upper house.

Where did you grow up and go to school? I spent my childhood in Kelso and Longview, and went to Catlin Elementary, Columbia Heights Elementary, Cascade Middle School and Mark Morris High School. I spent one year at Lower Columbia College and finished my final three years at Central Washington University in the industrial arts program.

Why did you get into teaching? I always liked working with people and going through the learning process. My mom is a pre-school teacher.

Who introduced you to industrial arts? My dad is a self-employed residential contractor. He flips houses and owns rentals. I started working with my dad when I was 10 or 11 years old. I was just a helping hand with sheetrock and roofs. In school I excelled in shop classes and was happiest in project-based learning.

What’s the best part about being a teacher? Building relationships with the students. Teaching is all about the relationships and the growth.

What are the students of today like? They are hard-working and task driven. People may assume students never get off their smartphone or think, “It’s not like when we were in school.” But I still see the drive in students to get things done. Sometimes it takes different teaching styles to motivate different students.

What is one thing you want to teach every student? One thing I’d like to teach every student is lifelong learning and self-evaluation. To be able to reflect on the job you just completed is a very important skill no matter what you do. I learned a long time ago, “reflect and do better.”

What would you like people to know about school? School is about learning, and failure is okay.

 Do you have hobbies? I love hunting, fishing and hiking, and I share season tickets to the Trailblazers. I’ve been a Blazers fan since elementary school. I watched Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler play. I also own a house in Kelso—it’s a fixer upper.

 Anything else? It’s important for young people in our community to recognize their own skills and recognize what Longview has to offer. Longview is a great place.

2018-11-07T22:28:49+00:00November 6th, 2018|

Pre-Apprenticeship Program Grand Opening

State Representative Brian Blake and Jill Diehl, Director of Career Readiness for Longview Public Schools

The goal of graduating seniors is to have a bright future.

Longview Public Schools took a big leap forward in providing high school students with great career options with the grand opening of the new pre-apprenticeship program at Mark Morris High School.

The program, developed in partnership with the local trades including IBEW 48 and UA 26, and with generous funding from JH Kelly, will serve students from across the district for years to come.

The new skill center will give students the chance to be hands on and learn the trades, and upon graduation be prepared to enter a union apprenticeship program.

The grand opening event brought supporters together from the community, labor unions, JH Kelly, state government, city government, Longview School Board, numerous community leaders, and school district personnel.

19th District State Representative Brian Blake said, “This is a fantastic program and it’s great to see the school district partner with business and the trades to prepare young people for rewarding careers.”

Students from all Longview high schools will be able to enroll in the pre-apprenticeship program.

2018-10-10T21:29:54+00:00October 4th, 2018|

2018 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey

Discovery High School will be participating in the 2018 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey on October 12, 2018.  The survey asks questions about risks for injury, health outcomes, and alcohol and drug use.  Schools, and state and local agencies use survey results to support our youth and reduce their risks. The Healthy Youth Survey is voluntary and anonymous and provides important information to guide policy and programs that serve our youth.

An information sheet was sent home with students in grades 10th and 12th on Friday, September 14.  Parent and Student Information letter can also be found at www.AskHYS.net/Administration

 

2018-09-19T15:30:27+00:00September 19th, 2018|

Fall 2018 Principal Update

I am grateful to return as the Principal of Discovery High School. We aspire to nothing less than becoming the premier alternative high school in the State of Washington.

I spent last year getting to know everybody, from students to teachers and the community of Longview. I stand by my words of last year, that we have a, “highly professional, ferociously dedicated staff.” Nothing could be more true. Our teachers are the heart of what we do here, and I’ve seen them do amazing work with our kids.

Last June we graduated 49 young women and men. 49! That is a testament to our kids’ hard work and our staff’s dedication. That was 7 x 7… maybe our slogan should be 8 x 8 ?

Thanks, again, for entrusting us with your kids’ education. We will honor that trust by making our best effort to see them across the finish line.

Best Wishes,
Mike Kleiner

2018-09-12T20:04:22+00:00September 12th, 2018|

Phone-free classrooms for 2018-2019

How Yondr worksThis year we will be using a system called “Yondr,” to improve teaching and learning by making our classes phone-free.

We know how connected people are to their phones, but phone use in school has become too distracting. Too many kids miss credits because they can’t focus in class. We can’t get them graduated if we can’t get their attention.

More and more studies prove that cell phones interfere with a student’s academic success. Just last year (2017), the University of Texas at Austin concluded that “the mere presence of cellphones reduces available cognitive capacity.”

The way Yondr works is simple.  When students enter Discovery, they will place their phones in an assigned Yondr cell-phone pouch.  The pouch locks and the student keeps their pouch with them.  Students maintain possession of their cell-phones throughout the class period, but they will not be able to use them until they are unlocked.  

In an effort to best serve your child, we are asking for your support in the adoption of Yondr at Discovery. It is already used by hundreds of middle and high schools, corporations and artists across the world to improve focus, production and the overall human experience of its users.

We know that this will be a big change.  Thank you for supporting our school and our students as we move forward.

You may contact the Discovery office at 360.414.2926.  Parents!!! Please don’t call/message your student during class time. In most cases, you can contact the office the relay messages to your student when action needs to be taken during the school day.

If it is crucial that a student respond immediately, students can unlock pouches in the classroom. In the case of an emergency, such as an earthquake, teachers have devices that can unlock the Yondr pouches quickly.

Students are still in possession of their cell phones.

The pouch is a school issued supply, just like textbooks.  It is free to use, but the student is responsible to pay $50 in the event of damage or loss. It is like a book fine.

2018-08-29T20:39:58+00:00August 21st, 2018|

LPS celebrates summer reading!

Longview Public Schools Superintendent Dan Zorn and School Board member Phil Jurmu set the pace at Longview’s Go Fourth parade.

While serving as grand marshal of the 2018 Go Fourth parade, Superintendent Dan Zorn and his crew of LPS staff, board members, family and friends passed out thousands of bookmarks encouraging everyone to read this summer.

The bookmarks include a link to “Superintendent Storytime,” where Dr. Zorn shares several of his favorite children’s books.

 

2018-07-09T15:04:58+00:00July 5th, 2018|

LPS graduates take diverse paths: Becky Grubbs, MMHS

Young people sample lots of activities in high school, and by the time they graduate each has a unique set of experiences to call their own. We asked three members of Longview’s class of 2018 to share something about their high school careers, a piece of advice and their post-graduation plans.

MMHS grad Becky Grubbs

Mark Morris grad Becky Grubbs

Mark Morris High School: Hardwired to help

Becky Grubbs seems hardwired for volunteering.

“I’ve been doing non-profit work since I was 18 months old,” said
the senior, describing those early times with her grandparents
at FISH of Cowlitz County, which distributes food and other services.

This year and last, Becky received Volunteer of the Year honors from the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum United Way.

Becky began volunteering at the United Way as a sophomore and soon was helping plan events, like the Day of Caring campaign. This year she worked with LPS to implement a literacy program that put 100 Mark Morris and R.A. Long students in third grade classrooms where they encouraged the younger students to read for fun.

“Becky took it on as her pet project … and set up student teams at the high schools,” said Brooke Fisher-Clark, United Way executive director. “It was really magical to see that partnership.”

Becky said volunteer work has taught her that there is always a way to help.

“United Way really helped me find out how to contribute,” she said.

Next steps: Finish an associate’s degree in business at Lower Columbia College and then pursue a four-year degree to become a financial planner or accountant.

Advice for younger students: “I would suggest they look for opportunities for things they can do in their own community. There’s always some way to help. You can always find something to do.”

Click here to read about Discovery graduate Natalie Rodriguez .

Click here to read about R.A. Long graduate Hamzah Amjad.

*

Story originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of the Longview Schools Review.

2018-06-21T21:54:19+00:00June 21st, 2018|

LPS grads take diverse paths: Hamzah Amjad, R.A. Long

Young people sample lots of activities in high school, and by the time they graduate each has a unique set of experiences to call their own. We asked three members of Longview’s class of 2018 to share something about their high school careers, a piece of advice and their post-graduation plans.

R.A. Long High School: Intent on STEM

R.A. Long grad Hamzah Amjad

R.A. Long grad Hamzah Amjad

From Hamzah Amjad’s perspective, having technology isn’t enough.

“It can be used to solve most of the world’s problems,” he said. “We just haven’t yet figured out how to help people who need it.”

Hamzah is preparing to do just that. In April, he was among 49 Washington high school seniors—one from each legislative district—who signed letters of intent to pursue careers in STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In September, he will begin engineering studies at the University of Washington.

“I like things that manifest into real-life scenarios,” he said, describing how his calculus and AP statistics classes helped him see real-world applications for theoretical material.

Hamzah points to medicines that are designed to cure cancer but perhaps aren’t used in the most efficient way. And he mused about artificial intelligence in cars—couldn’t it be used to prevent vehicle accidents?

His teachers anticipate he will make a difference.

“Hamzah is a phenomenal person who is always ‘on his game,’ and he carries himself with a humility that people are drawn to,” said math teacher Paul Jeffries. “He is committed to his future and will be successful, because he doesn’t know how else to be.”

Next steps: Study engineering at University of Washington.

Advice for younger students: “Everyone’s different, so you have to find your own way … but ask for help if you need it.”

Click here to read about Discovery graduate Natalie Rodriguez.

Click here to read about Mark Morris graduate Becky Grubbs.

*

Story originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of the Longview Schools Review.

2018-06-21T21:58:35+00:00June 21st, 2018|

LPS graduates take diverse paths: Natalie Rodriguez, Discovery

Young people sample lots of activities in high school, and by the time they graduate each has a unique set of experiences to call their own. We asked three members of Longview’s class of 2018 to share something about their high school careers, a piece of advice and their post-graduation plans.

Discovery High School: Finding her wings

DHS grad Natalie Rodriguez

Discovery grad Natalie Rodriguez

After moving back to Longview from Texas in her sophomore year, Natalie Rodriguez’s plan was to finish high school online so she could avoid people.

Then the self-described “really, really shy” student heard about Discovery, Longview’s alternative high school, and gave it a try.

When Natalie was required to make her first presentation, Discovery teacher Tamra Higgins nudged her through it.

“Ms. Higgins was like, ‘It’ll be OK. You’ll be fine,’” Natalie recalled—and found out she was.

She continued trying new things, including a library science class at R.A. Long and volunteer work at Monticello Middle School. Along the way, she found a passion for libraries.

“I realized if you work in a library, you’re helping people,” she said.
“Libraries are like hospitals for the mind.”

Higgins and English teacher Ron Moore agreed that Natalie has evolved into a whole new student.

“Natalie consistently asked some of the best questions and offered the deepest and most sophisticated insights,” Moore said. “She became a class leader and risk taker—miles away from that timid girl who was hesitant to put her toe in the water.”

Next steps: Start at Lower Columbia College, preparing for a career as a library technician.

Advice for younger students:
“If you’re on a cliff and you need to jump, but you’re too scared to jump, find some wings, staple them on—and just jump.”

Click here to read about Mark Morris graduate Becky Grubbs.

Click here to read about R.A. Long graduate Hamzah Amjad.

*

Story originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of the Longview Schools Review.

2018-06-21T21:52:45+00:00June 21st, 2018|
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