Update: Schools of Excellence Initiative

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Update: Schools of Excellence Initiative

December 6, 2018

Update: Schools of Excellence Initiative

How do we create a better future?

The Centralia Community Foundation Board Members believe community leaders can, and must, help reverse intergenerational poverty, high school dropout rates, and on-going economic decline in the city. Because a college degree or career certification is a requirement for more than 80% of jobs that are available in Washington State, we believe that quality education will make a significant impact. We also believe that quality education is critical to the future of our children, promoting economic development, and attracting new industries.


Where to begin

After we received a 3 year, $2 million grant for education from TransAlta (TA) earlier this year, we contracted the BERC Group to partner with us and the School District. The BERC Group has conducted extensive research for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on effective teaching, and they have evaluated over 40,000 classrooms in the United States. They have recently been working with Chehalis Foundation, Chehalis School District, and Centralia College to ensure a significant increase of high school to college or high school to trade certified career training is attained. We believe that the BERC Group’s understanding of our area is well-developed.

The CCF Education Committee has been working with Centralia School District leadership (CSD), Centralia School Board, CSD staff and the BERC Group to build a three-year plan to enhance the effectiveness of Centralia Schools.


What we learned

As one component of this partnership, BERC researchers invited school leaders, teachers, and staff to meet for focus groups in June 2018. The goal of these focus groups was to provide district employees the opportunity to share their ideas about the current programs, processes, and procedures in place in CSD and make suggestions for change.

Through these focus groups, educational surveys and discussions with district officials and community stakeholders, BERC researchers collected information that will be used as part of a comprehensive needs assessment for the district. The plan is designed to help guide school leaders and staff as they work to implement improvements that will generate positive changes for students.

The BERC Group also visited all schools in Centralia School District between April and June 2018. Approximately 200 people, including district leaders, academic coaches, building administrators, certificated and classified staff members, students, and parents participated in interviews and focus groups. In addition, evaluators conducted 171 classroom observations across the district. Finally, evaluators accessed additional information, including district policies, school improvement plans, action plans, student achievement data, and other school documents.


Working together to meet our goals

According to Duane Baker, Founder and President of the BERC Group, “Findings from the needs assessment determined that school district leaders and staff need to work collaboratively to identify common goals, build capacity to sustain current initiatives, align instructional practices with brain research, and strengthen community bonds to support their work.” A shared vision for moving forward will be developed by the end of this year along with a three-year plan created on how to accomplish the goals that will be set. The CSD will work together with the BERC Group, Centralia School Board, and CCF to determine needs, strategies, outcomes, and measures of success.

Additional investments will be made to support the 3-year plan, as these goals, strategies, and measures of success are defined. The CCF TA grant is dedicated to supporting and enhancing quality teaching and learning, and career and college success. Through continued philanthropic investment the Centralia Community Foundation is committed to creating more opportunities for students in Centralia. We are very excited to see the changes here in Centralia and we are working together for a better future!

Pictured Left to Right: Dr. Duane Baker, Lisa Wilson, and Amy Hendrickson


Career and college guidance help

As planned in our budget for 2018-2019 school year, CCF funded the addition of two new career and college counselors in the district. Lisa Wilson is at Centralia High School and Amy Hendrickson at the Centralia Middle School. The importance of these positions cannot be overstated. They will be leading school wide training around career exploration and conducting aptitude studies to help inspire kids to plan their futures instead of waiting. We are looking forward to the positive impact these hires will have as they guide graduates through the process of getting into college or finding a path to career certifications.


Help us grow

The CCF TA grant is dedicated to supporting and enhancing quality teaching and learning, and career and college success. We need to grow our email list and reach more people with news updates about our activities. Things are happening and we want more people to be part of these positive changes. Make sure you like us on Facebook! And please share with your friends and encourage them to sign-up for our e-news too. Sign up here to receive our e-news.

For more information contact Daniel Rich, Board President at 360-269-3750 or dan@centraliacf.org
To learn more about Centralia Coal Transition Funding Boards visit the Centralia Coal Transition Grants Website





Thank You To Centralia Community Foundation Sponsors

Gifts with Bows