Ely Times

The 2019-2020 school year has commenced. Now is a perfect time for White Pine residents to observe how each academic institution in our county is performing for our students. We must also introspectively ask what we can do as individuals and as a whole community to support each school, each teacher, every administrator, and every student. 

 All schools in White Pine County possess unique qualities making each one special and worth the investments of time, support, and material supplies.  Meant to be the heart and soul of a community, schools are the wellsprings of economic, environmental, and creative sustainability that drives each citizen, each family, and each business forward through generational growth and development.  Even if you have no children in school in White Pine County, these learning centers are producing your future neighbors, future employees, and future community leaders of our local areas.  

The number one cause of a student’s poor performance in school is the lack of parental involvement in their child’s education. The second cause is an apathetic population surrounding those students and passing their disregard for education on to the next generation. 

As the world outside of White Pine grows more complex politically, socially, culturally, economically, and environmentally, the burden to fully prepare each young person falls not on the individual parent nor the single teachers in the classroom, but on the village at large. 

 Communication is the first step in uniting each resident of White Pine under the single objective of improving the dynamics encouraging families and community members engage with their area schools.  Despite economic status or your own location within the county, in order to connect everyone with the goal of collaborating in efforts of producing the highest performing educational district in the state of Nevada, we all need to share an all-hands-on-deck mentality.  

Leading this effort on the front lines, the principals of our educational centers have collectively put into words what is going on in academia in order to celebrate the plans for the next ten months of classroom instruction in this school year.  From Pre-K to highschool, when it comes to seeing a clear 2020 vision, every school in White Pine County is on the same page. 

Baker Elementary  K-12

Principal: Robert Bischoff

We are excited for the 2019-2020 school year here at Baker Elementary.  Keeping in line with our district’s vision of changing the world by creating a world class learning environment, we are introducing a new writer’s workshop into our day, and the kids and I are very excited.  The work we do in our workshop will help the students immensely with all the writing required not only on the SBAC testing, but also in their expression and creative thinking.  This also relates to our district’s mission of promoting, supporting and ensuring high levels of learning. 

Our support staff does a fantastic job, and their hard work shows in the growth of our students with special needs.  Our community is very supportive of the students in Baker Elementary.  We currently have 3 community volunteers who come in to read with students who struggle with reading, and three volunteer teachers for science,art, and music – Carol Ferguson, Roberta Moore, and Lois Faber.  

Coming up is our annual Wheel-A-Thon fundraiser, and we expect to get a lot of volunteers to help make it a great success.  Last year the money we made was matched by our PTA to put money toward a paved trail system and Welcome to Baker, NV, signs on the outskirts of town.  

The one thing that people should know about the students at Baker School is that they all support one another in their challenges and their successes, and they never let a student struggle alone.

David E. Norman Elementary  K- 5 

Principal: Cammie Briggs

DEN is the largest school in the district,  with College and Career Ready Specialists, a STEAM Academy, a new literacy instructional approach, and lots of support, we are pleased and excited to change the world through world class learning.

A one star school in 2017-2018, DEN staff strongly believes such labels miss the passion, love, and care educators, students, and families put forth each day.  DEN strives to improve performance using NSPF data points and are making great progress. Stars don’t tell the whole story.  

Celebrations from 2018-2019 include: proficiency in Math increased 8 points; ELA increased 8 points; ELA by the end of third grade increased 15 points; chronic absenteeism dropped 12 points; and 49.7% of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade scored “Meets” or “Exceeds” on Writing components of the Smarter Balanced assessments, up 10% from 2017-2018. The state’s Social and Emotional Learning survey indicates kids feel their environment is safe and caring, reporting their teachers are concerned about them and their problems and care for them as people.

Our STEAM Academy is up and running.  Students participating in the Academy have extended school days and school year, allowing for rigorous, but oh-so-worth-it, hands-on learning opportunities. DEN offers choral and instrumental music, art, library, PE, advanced math instruction, a competitive robotics club, and enriched science.

Teachers encourage families to spend time reading and writing with their children each and every day.  World class literacy comes through doing the work–but also enjoying the beauty and art–of reading and writing as a part of everyday life.  We encourage parents, community members, and families to be in the school!  We are proud of the work we have going on and want the community to be proud of the progress we are making. The best way to do that is to see it for yourself!  

Learning Bridge Charter School  K- 8

Principal:  Jerri-Lynn Williams-Harper

An exceptional school with high expectations, our teacher-to-student ratio is no more than 20:1.  We emphasize social-emotional growth, academic rigor and our students being models of excellence in the community. The plan and vision for the 2019-2020 school year is to foster trust so that teachers may innovate with students, thus providing more academic and social progress for students. 

As the Principal I hope to bring new ideas and emphasize the importance of the written word. All students, K-8 will be journaling. More importantly is teacher collaboration with the grade levels above and below, so everyone can create a sound school climate and productive professional learning communities. 

Learning Bridge’s challenge is to meet each student where they are and help them soar. Currently for Elementary it is 2 stars and the middle school is 3 stars.We will strive to continue to build our star rating.

Our current parent community and the community at-large continue to see to it that all students have what they need to be successful learners. Please keep supporting us by coming to events and recognizing your child, and each student’s successes. 

I want the public to realize that we educate and train our students to be an integral part of the community.  We want them to make choices that will entice them to stay here in Ely or make their mark on another part of the country with others understanding their foundation was in Ely.

Lund  K-12

Principal: Timothy Moser

Lund’s performance plan is aligned to district goals of advancing academic performance through a continuous focus on reading and increased focus on writing, wholeheartedly embracing the vision of creating world-class learning environments. Our students and staff see themselves as writers, demonstrating that belief by writing every day.  

Lund Elementary has a two star rating, Middle School has a five star rating, our High School has a one star rating for the 2017-2018 school year, as the NSPF data for 2018-2019 has not yet been released. Lund staff are very proud of our students, recognizing “star ratings” as one piece of the puzzle, and strive to look holistically at each and every part of our school environment. 

Lund is a small school; our class sizes ensure students get individual attention, the principal and teachers know every single student in the school, and students report that makes them feel special. Multiple grade levels make up each class; this is challenging to ensure all students are taught on a level that they are prepared for, but teachers work exceptionally hard crafting lessons that meet the needs of each student.

We love our Lund community and encourage parents to read with their students every day.  Even more powerful would be asking students to share their writing and read it together.  The Lund community really pulled together to make the CTE program great. Community members volunteered two hours a day, twice a week for nine weeks, providing a rich Agriculture Mechanics experience for High School students to learn small engines, wood construction, welding, and electricity.  This is a great service and students love learning from community members.

McGill Elementary  Pre K- 5

Principal: Robert Bischoff

Tiger Pride is strong at McGill Elementary School!  It is a school that is loved by its community. Currently a 2 star school, McGill Elementary has been working hard for several years to improve it’s rating, especially in writing.  This year the school is continuing to work with our District Literacy specialists, Kim Haslem and Kenna Hall, and also Holly Marich from Northern Nevada Regional Professional Development Program on improving writing. This is in line with our district’s vision of creating a world class learning environment and with our mission of promoting, supporting and ensuring high levels of learning.  The school has seen continued growth over the last couple years and is excited to keep working on helping students become proficient writers.

Steptoe Valley High School  9-12

An alternative high school where students can come and feel welcomed and accepted. Over the summer, SVHS’s building went through a major clean-up/reorganization and renovation with new equipment, including computers, chairs, and even the addition of 6 new chromebooks so students can work together in groups on projects! This school year is going to be fantastic!  

According to collected data, the percentage of students achieving proficiency in Math is 50-54% (which is higher than the Nevada state average of 40%) for the 2016-17 school year. The percentage of students achieving proficiency in Reading/Language Arts is 40-49% (which is approximately equal to the Nevada state average of 48%) for the 2016-17 school year.

White Pine Middle School  6-8

Principal: Susan Jensen

We plan to keep a focus on literacy instruction in alignment with the WPCSD performance plan. Over the past two years, teaching staff has participated in extensive professional development in literacy and STEM and established using practices like: Cornell Notes, writing in a Claim, Evidence, Reasoning form, Accountable Talk, Close Reads, Text-Dependent and Higher Level Questioning, for all students to improve writing across all content areas.

  Math and science teams support this literacy movement and are seeing improvements in student data simply because they are improving as readers and writers. Our next step is vertically aligning instruction across the district in math, focusing on common math vocabulary and major core math clusters.  We continue to implement STEM practices to advance achievement, participating in project-based learning endeavors during the first and second semesters.

2017-2018 WPMS index scores originally rated WPMS as a 4-star school, but received a Targeted Support and Improvement designation which caps the star rating at 3 stars, after identifying subgroups, such as free and reduced lunch or IEP students, not meeting growth targets for a period of two consecutive years. 

Time, resources, discipline, and school culture are just a few hurdles to overcome. We choose to focus on the things we can control and know we control enough to make a difference in the lives of all of our students. 

Lifelong learners continuing to improve their craft in order to best serve our students, staff participates in shared learning using the works of Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie and Visible Learning, to ensure all of our students are fully aware of learning targets, what those targets looks like when reached, how to respond when targets are not met, and how to enrich when targets are achieved.  

Members of the community can get more involved with students by reaching out to the school to volunteer.  Volunteerism seems to drop off from elementary to middle school, but we will gladly take any and all volunteers both in our classrooms and on our athletic fields.

White Pine High School  9-12

Rebecca Murdock

This year promises much of the same: an inquiry cycle based on student learning goals around literacy in all classrooms. Teachers work together, implementing research-based strategies to improve student learning, and analyze data to drive instructional decisions.

Leadership teams meet regularly to facilitate and guide this process. These dedicated individuals are truly the force behind the improvement process and we know that our focused, collective efforts help us move closer towards our district’s vision of world-class learning.

WPHS is designated a 3-star school. We feel that a star rating in no way tells the whole story of the school family and the work being done to achieve 95%+ graduation rates for the last two years with 73.8% of students participating in some type of post secondary preparation, and 30% of students earning an advanced diploma in 2019, requiring additional coursework in Math and Science and cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or better.

WPHS offers college and career ready opportunities in Welding, Auto Technology, Culinary, Health Science, Web Design and Development, Computer Science, and more.  Choir, band, drama, student council, a new competitive robotics club, and lots of athletic and extracurricular opportunities help keep our students engaged and excited. 

Our staff values educating the “whole student.”  We want each of our students to be known well by at least one staff member.  What their needs are, their roadblocks to learning, their interests, and resources for success.  Social and emotional well-being is every bit as important as the letter on their report cards. This is a key component of our Advisory Program at WPHS.

Prior to graduating, Senior Achievement teaches finances, credit card debt, interest and loans, scholarship applications, budgeting, job interview skills, workplace skills, and more.  These are very important life skills that we want all students to graduate with.