Council President Sally Clark and I visited Roxhill Elementary School last Friday morning. It was one of those visits that pump you up and get you excited.
Roxhill is barely inside the city's southern boundary, hugging the north side of Southwest Roxbury Street. It's a Level 3 school in Seattle's numeric grading system (that's a C letter grade), improved from Level 1 just two years ago. Credit goes to Principal Carmela Dellino and her staff of 29 dedicated and engaging teachers for the progress.
Roxhill's student population is more diverse than the city as a whole—27% Black, 40% Hispanic, 17% Asian/Pacific Islander, 12% White. Thirty-five percent of Roxhill's students are English language learners. Seventy-five percent of the students are enrolled in the free/reduced lunch program. Twenty-three percent of the students receive special education attention. Student achievement lags behind the school district's overall elementary school averages, but Roxhill students are getting better on their reading, math, writing and science tests. Their academic improvement rate beat district-wide averages in both math and reading in the 2010-2011 school year.
After walking the hallways of Roxhill and visiting classrooms, you can see why. The visit revealed a school focused on learning. It was orderly and clean. Students worked well together. Teachers and their helpers, including student teachers from the UW, were walking around, sitting on the floor, encouraging and drawing out the best from their students.
We saw child-focused commitment. We saw teachers and student teachers pouring themselves into the kids. We saw the order and discipline of the building and classrooms. We saw engaging and stimulating teaching methods being used. We saw kids who were learning, having fun and working with each other. We sat in on a local government civics lesson for third graders.
Impressive. That's the word that kept coming to mind as I drove back to City Hall. Impressive principal and teachers. Impressive academic progress being made.
Roxhill is another example of a Seattle public school that's working.