Preparing Ninth Graders for Success
Preparing Ninth Graders for Success
Posted on 11/28/2018
Mandy Watland works with a student at Klahoway Secondary School.

Freshman Support from Central Kitsap Schools.

Two. Two little credits. A class here, a class there. It doesn’t sound like much, but the new Washington state high school graduation requirement, which boosted the number of required credits from 22 to 24, rippled through the freshmen who entered high school in the fall of 2017. And it created a few waves.

Central Kitsap School District dedicated resources, time and energy to ensuring these freshmen, who are set to graduate in 2021, understand and work toward this new requirement with determination.

“The ninth grade success coordinator is a position that the district created this year to keep an eye on our freshman and give them the most opportunities for success,” said Jessie French, a Central Kitsap High School math teacher.

Every Single Class to Graduate

“As our schedule stands right now, they only sit in 24 classes,” added Mandy Watland, a math teacher at Klahowya Secondary School. “Hence, they need every single class to graduate.”

French, Watland and Ann Fugere (also a math teacher) of Olympic High School are CKSD’s ninth grade success coordinators. The teachers meet with the students one-on-one or in small groups, giving them time to ask questions, express concerns and celebrate achievements.

“Sometimes it's, ‘Hey, let's just clean out your backpack and let's see what we can find,’” said Watland. “Sometimes we'll put together emails to send to their teachers, just asking, ‘How can I still complete this assignment?’ or any additional information that can help.”

Whole Student Focus

Ann Fugere and Donavin Barrick work on math problems at Olympic High School.

Ann Fugere and Donavin Barrick

The three teachers also talk about using a planner, completing all homework, and managing their schedules. “I try to focus on the whole student, not just the academics,” said Fugere.

OHS sophomore Donavin Barrick was one of Fugere's students. He said some students didn't know Fugere’s “official” title, so they’ve given her one of their own. “She’s the ninth grade mom. She’s been super helpful,” he said.

Jessie French and JeweliAnn Iversen at CKHS.

Jessie French and JeweliAnn Iverson

JeweliAnn Iverson, CKHS Class of 2021, said the higher graduation requirement was daunting. “There’s absolutely no room for failure. You really have to keep on track and make sure you pass.” It helped to know that French was there to support her, she said. “She’s the most relatable teacher I’ve ever had.”

Fugere, Watland and French all watched their freshmen grow over the 2017-18 school year. “I have students who now enjoy school because they know they have someone to help them,” said Fugere.

“Their success is really exciting to see,” added French. “They just take so much more pride in themselves, they carry themselves differently.”