School board studying work-in-progress Freshman Learning Center at Mount Si High

Mount Si High School's Freshman Learning Center is still a work in progress, but it is definitely making progress.

School administrator Cindy Wilson briefed the Snoqualmie Valley School District Board of Directors in January on the school, now in its second year of a freshman learning program that groups core curriculum classes and teachers within the school's portable classrooms. The makeshift freshman campus dedicates a language arts teacher and an earth science teacher to each group of freshmen for the school year, giving the students continuity, and a more individual relationship with their teachers, said Wilson. The teacher teams share a prep time, enabling them to work together on student learning.

Wilson said the core group of teachers met at an Aug. 24 retreat, where "We defined what success looked like at the ninth grade level... we talked about things like homework must be relevant, and must count."

She then invited freshman teacher Toni Canady to discuss the "second-chance lunch" that she and Beth Rugh started in October. This program, she explained, gave students an opportunity to do homework assignments that they didn't turn in on schedule, and still receive partial credit.

"Students have the most difficult time with homework, and that homework grade is the one that can cause them to fail a class," Canady said.

The second-chance lunch offers students a chance to make up homework assignments during their lunch period. Participating teachers are available to help the students with their homework, too. It's a voluntary program, but many students have made use of the homework help.

"I'm very happy to report that at (the end of first) semester, we are at 65 kids, not one failure in reading and writing," Canady said to vigorous applause.

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