Teachers and students at Glacier View Junior High School say their rewarding experience comes from collaboration and attention to learning.
Earlier this month, the Puyallup School District facility was named a School of Distinction for the third consecutive year for being among the top 5 percent among statewide schools that have shown significant and sustained improvement in reading and math standardized test scores.
“It feels fantastic,” Glacier View Principal Michelle Cruckshank said.
Cruckshank, who started her role at the beginning of the school year, said she understands the gravity of the responsibility she’s been given and the big shoes she has to fill.
“I know that the team here is in a place of moving forward,” she said. “They’re in a place of working together and collaboration for kids. My job is to provide support for the staff that is doing the work and move that momentum forward.”
Mark Vetter, now a director of instructional leadership for the school district, was the Glacier View principal from when it opened in 2008 until June 30.
“We opened as a junior high with grades seven through nine, using a middle-school philosophy,” Vetter said.
The philosophy dictates a team approach, and there are six teacher teams within the school. Each team has four core interdisciplinary teachers who focus on English, social studies, math and science. And they each have their own location in the building.
About 150 students are in each team.
“The one thread in every top-ranked middle level school is the team culture and structure,” Vetter said. “There are a staff of teachers there whose philosophy is ‘good enough is not good enough.’ They’re constantly pushing forward and wanting to improve.”
Cruckshank said the four teachers in each team share planning periods twice a week during which they sit down and compare students’ data based on common assessments.
If a student is struggling academically, teachers come together to make sure the student doesn’t fall behind, she said.
“Team planning is not only important for academics but also for the social and emotional welfare of each child,” Cruckshank said. “That translates into stronger results. If (a child) knows that a group of teachers care about them, their ability to come in and be ready to learn is huge.”
The Puyallup School Board recognized Glacier View’s achievement on Monday. Later this fall, Cruckshank and Vetter will attend a statewide School of Distinction recognition ceremony in Renton.
The award is sponsored by the Center for Educational Effectiveness, the Association of Educational Service Districts, the Association of Washington School Principals, the Washington Association of School Administrators and the Washington State School Directors Association.
Glacier View is the only Puyallup School District institution to receive the distinction this year. However, several schools in the district have received the accolade in previous years.
Fruitland Elementary School received it from 2007-09 and 2011, and Kalles Junior High from 2009-12. Hunt Elementary School received it from 2007-09; Zeiger from 2009-10, and Wildwood in 2007 and 2011.
“We are equally pleased with continued improvement in all of our schools, including many that have won this award in previous years,” District Superintendent Tim Yeomans said.