Enfield7thGrade1 Enfield7thGrade2 Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield went back to middle school to be a student for a day as part of the national Shadow a Student challenge. Dr. Enfield shadowed 7th-grade student Elizabeth Solis-Vargas at Chinook Middle School in SeaTac. She got a first-hand look at a student’s experience, documenting her day with Elizabeth in a series of photos. Here is Dr. Enfield’s reflection on the day:

“Last week I took part in the Shadow a Student Challenge—and loved it. While I visit classrooms almost every week, as superintendent it is often difficult to carve out an entire day to spend time with students and learn deeply about their experiences. Shadowing Elizabeth, a bright, energetic 7th grader at Chinook Middle School, was an illuminating experience. My biggest takeaway was this: our students are brilliant, beautiful, and brimming with promise, and they want to be challenged and supported to succeed academically.  Students know that teachers demonstrate how much they care for and respect them by planning lessons and projects that are engaging, challenging and tailored to the unique needs and interests of each student in the class. This is the hardest part of teaching, but it is also the very heart of being a great teacher. I saw marvelous examples of what carefully planned and enthusiastically delivered lessons can do to engage students and create a learning environment that is purposeful and joyful. In Ms. Berk’s science class, which is fully inclusive and serves students with a variety of strengths and needs, students were participating in an interactive lesson on dominant and recessive genes. In Ms. Fresco’s Pacific Northwest History class, students were working in groups to explore the historical impact of fur trading, fishing and logging on the environment and economy. They were able to look at exemplars of other students’ work as models for what successful projects looked like. And in Ms. Carpenter’s Language Arts class, students focused on increasing their writing stamina, both alone and in pairs, and they did so with tremendous focus and insight. Each of these teachers had put a tremendous amount of preparation into these lessons and it showed—students understood what they needed to do and why they were doing it. I came away with even greater admiration and awe for middle school teachers, and these three in particular who represent the best of Highline.”
 The Shadow a Student Challenge is an initiative of School Retool, a professional development fellowship for school leaders.]]>