The strength and potential of a community is reflected in an area’s education system and we are fortunate to live in a place that values education through diverse programs and exceptional instruction. Southwest Washington public schools are among some of the best in the state. Each school district is home to high-ranking, award winning teachers, administrators, and support staff. Whether it’s science and technology programs or culinary arts classes, Southwest Washington school districts are exemplary. Here is some basic information about each of the districts in the area.
Vancouver School District
The first school in this district was founded in 1832 and since then, it has worked on pioneering innovative programs that have evolved with the times. Over the years, programs have started that engage the community and inspire young learners. Recently, a community-approved technology levy was passed and students from grade 3 to 12 will have one-to-one digital learning tools by next year. In addition, magnet programs exist at the High School level for the Arts, medical and science.
Evergreen School District
The district is home to 35 schools that are supported by more than 1600 teachers. This district is incredibly diverse with 52 languages spoken and one in four students in an ethnic minority. There are more than 26,000 students in the district. As the district continues to grow, teachers and administrators continue to charge into unexplored territory to develop plans and instructional lessons to help children expand their knowledge and connect with the world around them.
Camas School District
Camas School District Superintendent Mike Nerland shared in a December 2015 letter to patrons that a community wide survey found that 70% of families moving to Camas in the last 10 years did so because of the quality of the school district. In a recent poll, 84% of community members gave the district a grade A or B. (1) This school district is made up of a variety of high-ranking teachers that are involved in the advancement of each student’s personal growth, making it a close-knit educational community that is dedicated to teaching kids self-confidence, respect, and quality communication as key parts of the learning experience.
Battle Ground School District
Spanning 273 square miles, Battle Ground is one of the largest and most diverse districts in Washington that serves over 13,000 students in 18 schools. In 2010, the district celebrated 100 years operating in the community and it is not uncommon for former students to return to Battle Ground to raise their families there. There are more than 1400 highly trained staff members in the school district and there are a wide range of programs that integrate technology, vocational skills, as well as award-winning music and theater programs that received top state honors in competitions and individual performances.
Washougal School District
Washougal School District opened its first school in 1852 and has since grown to include thousands of students, including those that extend into Skamania County. The mission of this district is to develop supportive and welcoming school environments in order for students to succeed. This district is also active in the community, working with local businesses and agencies to introduce students to occupations so they not only have knowledge, but hands on, real work experiences.
The Schools of La Center are a hub of the community and offer diversified learning opportunities including Advanced Placement, La Center Home School Academy, Running Start, and much more including award-winning athletic, music, and drama programs. It is a small district that services just over 1500 students and the district boasts small class sizes and low employee turnover rate, making it one of the most well-respected districts in the area.
Similar in size to La Center, this district is a small one — one high school, one middle school, and two elementary schools. It aspires to be the state’s premier district by leveraging strong community partnerships and has been consistently one of the highest performing school districts in Clark County with some of the highest performing test results in reading and math. One thing unique to this district is that it employs full time art specialist teachers in the elementary schools, where students receive over 270 hours of high=quality art instruction during the course of their elementary career. Ridgefield is also the only Clark County school district that still offers “outdoor school”, where 5th graders have a week of outdoor, hands-on learning opportunities.
- Camas School District Website. Accessed January 18, 2016. http://www.camas.wednet.edu/superintendent/
Written by Brooke Strickland (www.brookestrickland.org)
Photo courtesy of Battle Ground Public Schools