Peninsula School District Superintendent Rob Manahan hosted the district’s first-ever “Superintendent’s Bus Tour” last week throughout the region.
On the opening day, after an introductory meeting chaired by Manahan, 19 guests boarded a school bus for visits to Artondale Elementary, Goodman Middle School and Gig Harbor High. The following day a smaller group visited Minter Creek Elementary and Key Peninsula Middle School but its plan to visit Peninsula High was stalled by a vehicular accident blocking state Route 302. Each day, attendees enjoyed the district’s lunch of the day, thus filling out a full day of experiencing what goes on within the district.
Artondale Elementary students Jocelyn Gregory and Kallee Waage welcomed visitors, handing each a tiny steel bucket with candy kisses and a briefing sheet. They gave welcoming speeches in the library before chaperoning the visitors throughout the school, including observing classes in action.
In an email, the girls, students of fifth grade teacher Susan Willis, said, “It meant a lot to us to be chaperones for you during the tour at our school. It made us feel like school leaders and was an honor to help Mrs. (Principal Jacque) Crisman. We spent the rest of our day in our classroom learning, studying explorers and how they sailed across the oceans. Explorers faced diseases and dangers and didn’t know where they were at all times. Without them we wouldn’t be where we are today or have many of the animals and plants we now have in North America. They brought many things with them such as horses. We also had a math test on dividing decimals and read a story on Rosa Parks and how she stood up to discrimination. In Science, we are learning about molecules and created models of a glucose molecule. Our teacher taught us about physical and chemical changes by doing an experiment with water to see if it would evaporate which is a physical change.
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“At the end of the day, we have a class called math RTI. In this class we are studying sixth grade math. We also have a program called bus buddies. This is a program where fifth-graders get a chance to be responsible for taking kindergarteners to their bus at the end of the day. Student council is also a big part of our elementary experience in third, fourth and fifth grades. SC comes up with ideas for spirit days, food drives, help to run Field Day, and school announcements over the intercom on Tuesdays.”
Both girls served on student council and enjoyed working with different grade levels and listening to their perspectives about school.
“Sometimes our perspectives were different, but it was good to hear different points of view,” they added.
They thanked us for, “visiting Artondale Elementary, home of the OTTERS!”
We had retirees new to the community looking to connect, parents of young students interested in a closer look at (PSD), realtors who benefited from information about how the district works, grandparents, and community activists. People really seemed to enjoy interacting with students.
Rob Milroy, Communities In Schools chairman
Communities In Schools chairman Rob Milroy wrote, “These bus tours, introduced by Rob Manahan to increase communication between the residents and the school district, gave me an opportunity to see the schools in action, on a much broader range of courses than I could ever have imagined, engaging the students through collaborative teaching methods and a broad range of after school activities including a computer lab at Gig Harbor High School. The district still has work to do but now I am better equipped to offer a more informed, constructive critique and also to look for volunteer opportunities where I can contribute.”
Said Kathy Weymiller, PSD’s director of community outreach, “People who attended were very diverse in experience and interest. We had retirees new to the community looking to connect, parents of young students interested in a closer look at (PSD), realtors who benefited from information about how the district works, grandparents, and community activists. People really seemed to enjoy interacting with students.”
Key Peninsula resident Nonie Whalen thoroughly enjoyed the tours, the students who led them, and the opportunity to interact with the amazing children aged 6 to 18.
“They were engaging and engaged in their learning, and thoughtfully and professionally directed by their educators,” Whalen said. “I found all three of the campuses to be warm, welcoming, peaceful, and calm environments in which to learn. The administrators, including the superintendent, exuded both a confidence in, and passion for, what they do. So did most of the kids.”
Highlights were seeing how QR answer cards scanned by an iPad were used to give teachers immediate feedback of student understanding, a Chinese language class, classrooms, robotics, and the inclusion of students with all abilities in the general education setting.
Weymiller, who attended the tours, felt they generated interest and positive feedback.
“We intend to continue them in April and November,” she said.
Dates will be posted on the website psd401.net as well as the district’s Facebook page.