Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
The Yakima Valley’s primary schools are making big progress academically and doing more than ever before to help kids succeed. Local schools are using cutting edge practices to increase student achievement. By reducing class sizes, putting a strong emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math), and embracing rigorous Common Core education standards, local schools are seeing higher test scores, better graduation rates, and increased enrollment at secondary institutions.
Numerous schools and district are now receiving accolades for their academic performance. “West Valley was recognized nationally in the District Administration November issue for their success in Early Learning and Pre K-3,” said Steve Meyers, Superintendent of ESD 105. “They also received the national award for AP Honors Success.”
And West Valley is not the only school who has recently received recognition. Toppenish School District was number 17 in the nation for the Tom Vander Ark awards for innovation in the classroom for their work with STEM. East Valley students won one of five top awards given in Samsung Corporation’s national 2014 Solve for Tomorrow Competition. LaSalle High School, a private Catholic institution, boasts placing 100 percent of its graduates in secondary institutions for seven years in a row. Schools within the Union Gap, East Valley and West Valley districts have also repeatedly won “Schools of Distinction” awards from the state for their sustained gains in reading and math.
Staff at local schools are also getting kudos. Mabton’s Randi Krieg was named 2014 Young Agricultural Teacher of the year by the Washington Association for Agriculture Educators, and several schools in the valley received 2014 School of Distinction Awards. This is on top of having both the national principal and teacher of the year from our Valley in 2013.
“Our region’s emphasis on STEM, teacher professional development, early learning and ongoing academic improvement are impacting student learning in a positive way,” said Steve Myers. Communities are also stepping up by backing bonds and levies to support schools. According to Myers: “We have invested millions up and down the Valley to build new schools that give our kids state of the art learning environments. Whether its Yakima or Selah or Wapato our towns have consistently voted yes to support school operations and facilities.
The valley is also breaking new ground in terms of developing higher education and technical training programs. Heritage University has rolled out a new Physician Assistant program, Yakima Valley Community College has added a B.A. degree program in Business Management, Perry Technical Institute continues to lead in after graduation placement with a 91% job hire rate, and Pacific Northwest University continues is also adding more degree programs.
To learn more about some of these programs and to see firsthand some of the amazing work by students, check out these links: