The Dalles The number of disciplinary referrals at Colonel Wright Elementary has dropped significantly since the beginning of the year, according to Principal Greg Bigalow.
At a recent North Wasco County School District 21 board meeting, Bigalow told directors the number of referrals in the last three months is about a third lower than the first three months of the year. He said a focus on the positive has helped create a better school environment.
“We’re making a difference at the school,” he said. “If they’re focused, they’re learning.”
One of the programs he credited with the drop is a “check in, check out” system the school has implemented.
“It’s a program for students who are making progress but need more help managing their school day,” Bigalow said.
The students choose a staff member they would like to work with, then sit down with that staff member at the beginning of each school day and again before they go home. They discuss what they need to do for the day and how they are going to make sure it gets done and then do a follow-up at the end of the day.
On the other end of the
spectrum, Colonel Wright is also recognizing students who are consistently responsible. Students who earn the title of “self managers” have an opportunity to do extra things like making costumes to help out with an assembly.
“They’re kids who get their homework done on time, have no major referrals, are good citizens — the kids you can count on to follow through on assignments,” Bigalow said.
Superintendent Candy Armstrong said coming up with strategies to reduce the impact of behavioral problems is becoming increasingly important as more students come into school from difficult circumstances at home that can cause them to act out.
“We have a large number of students coming into the district who have behavioral issues that impact their ability to learn and impact the classroom environment around them,” she said. “We’re looking at what we can do to help engage them. The things they’ve experienced are not their fault.”
Bigalow said Colonel Wright recently received feedback from the state after four state employees did site visits, classroom observations and interviews in October.
The assessment was brought about by Colonel Wright being named a “focus school” that the state will help mentor for the next few years. The focus school designation came because the state is concerned about the achievement of the school’s special education and English Language Learner students, despite the school’s overall test scores being in line with state averages.
Bigalow said the state’s assessment gave Colonel Wright a high score in many areas, such as creating a “welcoming environment” at the school, implementing feedback from tests and having good team structures and leadership among staff.
In other areas, like recruiting parent volunteers and making sure there is a smooth transition from preschool to kindergarten and fifth grade to middle school, the state saw some room for improvement. Bigalow said their leadership team has been working on strategies to improve.
“I believe we’re on the right path and making progress,” he said.