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Garrison Middle School counselor named Washington School Counselor of the Year (Photo) - 02/17/17

WALLA WALLA - Washington School Counselor Association named Garrison Middle School Counselor Angela Gardea the School Counselor of the Year for 2016. Each year school counselors are nominated by their peers based on their high standards of personal conduct, their demonstrated leadership, advocacy and collaboration, according to award criteria on the Washington School Counselor Association webpage.

"I am so honored to be nominated and selected for this award," Gardea said. "I truly feel lucky to love what I do. Everything I have been able to accomplish during my 18 years with the Walla Walla Public Schools has been due to the support I have received from my family as well as from the staff, community members and families in the Walla Walla Valley."

WSCA's School Counselor of the Year program honors the best of the best in Washington State, according to Brianne LaVerdiere, who oversees the award program. She said the program is seeking to recognize school counselors who are running a top-notch, comprehensive school counseling program at either the elementary, middle or high school level. The winner will be nominated by the state association for consideration in the ASCA School Counselor of the Year program.

"Angela Gardea has demonstrated consistent and reliable contributions in all areas of service, scholarship and teaching throughout her career," said LaVerdiere. "We are excited to spread the word about this amazing accomplishment."

Gardea began her career with Walla Walla Public Schools in 1999 as teacher at Pioneer Middle School. She transitioned to school counselor in 2007, first at Pioneer Middle School and most recently at Garrison Middle School. She has also held a Learning Specialist position at Berney Elementary and coordinated the Pioneer Middle School Learning Assistance Program at Pioneer Middle during her 18 year tenure with the school district. Gardea is also the district's Crisis Recovery and Threat Assessment Coordinator and serves on the district's Safe and Civil Schools Committee. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education and Teaching Certificate from Eastern Washington University. She has a Masters in Education and Counseling Certificate from Walla Walla University and a continuing Counseling Certificate from Whitworth University.

"Mrs. Gardea's incredible efforts, both at Garrison Middle School as well as her critical leadership role in district-wide suicide prevention and response, has positively influenced countless students and families across our district," said Superintendent Wade Smith. "I cannot think of a more dedicated, passionate, and deserving person to receive such incredible recognition."

Garrison Middle School Principal Robert Elizondo says Gardea is a valued leader at Garrison Middle School with students, staff and parents. He praises her strong verbal and written skills and ability to organize multiple projects with a keen attention to detail.

"She has invested countless hours with students, families, WWPS and our community," said Elizondo. "She is selfless, accommodating and always takes the opportunity to help others."

Angela will be recognized at the WSCA annual conference in March.


Attached Media Files: Angie_Gardea.jpg
WAHI Winners from Regional High School Instrumental Solo & Ensemble Competion - 02/13/17

Congratulations to the WAHI Instrumental Program.
They traveled to Pasco and competed in the Regional Solo & Ensemble Contest this past Saturday. The winners will travel to Ellensburg at the end of April to compete statewide.

The Regional High School Vocal Solo & Ensemble will occur on Saturday February 25th at Garrison Middle School - Stay tuned for more results!

WAHI Regional Solo & Ensemble Standouts

Piano Solo
-Winner: Blake Averett
-2nd Alternate: Jacob Averett

Cello Solo
-Winner: Eunice Ra

Clarinet Solo
-Winner: Hannah Cabasco
-1st Alternate: Keeli McKern

Small String Ensemble
-Winner: Eunice Ra / Bryson Jacobs Duet
-2nd Alternate: WWHS String Quartet (Bryson Jacob, Jerry Ladderud, Peter Hoffman, & Eunice Ra)

Small Woodwind Ensemble
-Winner: Hannah Cabasco/ Keeli McKern clarinet duet

Flute Solo
-1st Alternate: Thomas Kaminsky

Viola Solo
-1st Alternate: Peter Hoffman

String Bass Solo
-1st Alternate: Taya Lovejoy

Roger Garcia
Walla Walla School District Music Coordinator

Draft Strategic Plan initiatives identified - 02/10/17

District moves forward with last phase of Strategic Planning efforts

WALLA WALLA - Significant stakeholder input has helped identify key initiatives the district will focus its attention on over the next five years, Superintendent Wade Smith shared with the Board of Directors at their recent work session. Four core themes have been identified as critical from staff, parents, and community including high quality instruction, aligned and coherent systems, social and emotional needs, and a safe and engaging environment. The district is developing 12 core initiatives in support of these critical themes to ensure WWPS achieves its newly-minted vision of Developing Washington's Most Sought-After Graduates.

"This marks another important milestone in the district's Strategic Planning process," Smith said. "We are in a position to finalize our new Strategic Plan in May and begin using this stakeholder developed plan to build on the proud tradition of excellence Walla Walla Public Schools has demonstrated throughout its history."

Goals and Initiatives:
* Goal #1: High Quality Instruction: Supporting a district-wide culture where all instructional staff reflect on their practice, collaborate with their peers, and incorporate best-practice teaching strategies to ensure high levels of learning for all students
- Develop mechanisms to support shared organizational leadership characteristics
- Identify and support best-practice instructional strategies
- Foster a climate of collaboration and practitioner reflection

* Goal #2: Aligned & Coherent Systems: Ensuring articulated programs and systems to support a comprehensive, consistent, and responsive learning environment for all students
- Ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum through comprehensive curriculum adoption and Pre-K-12 pathway development
- Ensure technology systems alignment and support
- Continue to develop and enhance bilingual, highly capable, and special education programs to meet the needs of students
- Improve post-secondary culture and partnerships with local businesses

* Goal #3: Social & Emotional Needs: Implementing high-quality behavioral models and interventions to support the social and emotional needs of all students
- Develop and implement school-wide behavioral support models
- Implement district-wide behavioral coaching and support systems
- Enhance access to school-based health centers for medical and mental support for students

* Goal #4: Safe & Engaging Environment: Ensuring all students are engaged and connected to their school, peers, and community in a safe and secure educational setting
- Implement a best-practice safety response program to ensure student and staff safety
- Identify and develop programs to improve student engagement and involvement with their school and their peers
- Provide coordinated supports for Latino students and their families

The district is currently developing comprehensive initiative planning teams who will be tasked to research and develop cost estimates to support the initiative plans. These reports will be presented to the Board of Directors for review and consideration in March. For more information visit our Strategic Plan website at: http://www.wwps.org/a-z/s-t/strategic-plan


Walla Walla School District Board of Directors Special Meeting, Regular Board Meeting and Executive Session: February 7, 2017 - 02/03/17

Walla Walla School District Board of Directors Special Meeting, Regular Board Meeting and Executive Session: February 7, 2017

Supporting documents are available via the following link:

Continued growth in local assessed value drives down levy and bond rates for Walla Walla taxpayers - 02/03/17

WALLA WALLA - A strong economic recovery continues to positively influence Walla Walla Public Schools and local taxpayers. Recent reports from the Walla Walla County Assessor's Office revealed a 6.2% increase in assessed value for the region in 2017. This represents seven straight years of assessed value growth, offsetting the great recession impact when growth reached an all-time low, dipping to -4.68% in the 2010 calendar year.

"As a result of the continued growth, in addition to the district's prudent, conservative assumptions when communicating with taxpayers regarding projected bond and levy rates when voters approved both measures, a collective savings of 22 cents per thousand will be realized," Superintendent Wade Smith reported. "In addition, refinancing of prior debt in 2010 has saved taxpayers significant interest rate costs on school bonds as all bond debt will be paid off on December 1, 2018."

Sharpstein Elementary one of only three schools in region to exit Focus school status (Photo) - 01/25/17

WALLA WALLA - Sharpstein Elementary staff cheered to the news the school is exiting the state's Focus schools list effective for the 2017-2018 school year. Superintendent Wade Smith shared the news today during a surprise staff meeting. Sharpstein Elementary was placed on the state's watch list during the 2014-2015 school year after students with disabilities in the school's special education program tested in the bottom 5 percent in math and reading academic performance. Sharsptein was one of only three schools in the Educational Service District 123 region to exit based on the academic improvements of students with disabilities and the fact Sharpstein students representing all other subgroups met state targets in math and reading.

"This recognition affirms the outstanding work that has and continues to take place every day at Sharpstein," said Superintendent Wade Smith. "Staff and students alike are to be commended for their efforts and we look forward to continued success from their extraordinary efforts."

Sharpstein Elementary implemented Turnaround Principles and Interventions the past three years to enhance student achievement. Turnaround Principles and Interventions included teachers participating in collaborative lesson planning to ensure Common Core State Learning Standards alignment. Teachers also met with their peers to collaboratively score student work, established "Data Days" to review student progress and bolstered staff professional development. The school's leadership team included parent representatives to advise them on matters related to family and school relations. Parents also received additional support for helping their children learn at home.

"Your teachers and principals are to be commended for their efforts to improve student learning. Your district is to be commended for the support provided to your district's educators and students," said Gayle Pauley, Assistant Superintendent for Special Programs and Federal Accountability. "We strongly encourage leadership teams from exiting Priority and Focus schools to continue implementing your Student and School Success Action Plans and to access state professional development and services to support your improvement efforts in 2017--18."