EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the premiere story from Marie Schau, South King Media’s new Intern from Big Picture High School:

By Marie Schau
Intern, Big Picture High School

On Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 a.m., Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield spoke about the state of Highline Public Schools. In her speech, she talked about how they want to improve as a district and the things that need to improve upon.

Superintendent Enfield talked about different ways they have improved the graduation rates. For example, the graduation rate has steadily increased over the last few years. In 2018 it was around 80 percent, which was a huge step up because in 2012 it was just around 60 percent. She also noted that all groups of students have had increases in graduation rates. Enfield stated that in the past she would compare all student groups’ achievements to white students by saying “Look at how African American graduation rates are almost the same as white students.” She said someone pointed it out to her and asked: “Why do you compare other groups of students to White students?”

“What is the exception? Why do we compare students to other groups of students? What is the average number that we need to compare?”

Enfield says that Highline’s current goals are “How students are doing in relation to goals we have for them, to graduation prepared for the future they choose and not compared to another group of students.” She also stated that they have to change the discipline system. They used to have a pretty big number of out-of-school suspensions each year.

“We are going to put a stake in the ground,” said Enfield, and then they saw that the number of out of school suspensions went down. Some of the problems were that well-meaning staff would suspend kids but won’t tally as an out-of-school suspension. They have to give them a hard time and remind them they don’t want any fake data. That it is hard for the staff because they do want to reach their goals. Theat they will still suspend kids for urgent reasons if they are going to harm themselves or others.

Some notable programs are BAM (“Becoming a Man”). BAM started in Chicago and helps young men. Currently, it is available at Sylvester, Chinook, Tyee, and Highline. Next year it will expand to Cascade, Glacier, and Evergreen.

Highline Public Schools has also made huge progress on internships for high school students. Before the only school that took internships seriously was Big Picture. Thanks to sponsorships like Alaska Airlines, which recently donated over $20,000 dollars in scholarship money, they also have a program called Team Read which would pair up a high school student with someone who is struggling in reading. They found huge benefits for both the high school students and the person who is struggling. They found that 70% of kids move up one grade level and 50% move two-grade levels after participating in the program. Additionally, 40% of the teens who interned with Team Read are interested in education as a career. 85% said they learned a skill to use in the future. 87% believe that they made a difference in the lives of the person who they were tutoring.

The meeting was very interesting. Enfield talked about how the district was doing, and how the graduation rate that went up. I am hoping to go next year and see what information they would have and how the district is continuing to grow.

INTERN'S VIEW: Superintendent Susan Enfield updates the 'State of Our Schools ' 1About Marie Schau
Hello, My name is Marie Schau and I go to a school called Big Picture. Instead of having a regular school day on Tuesday and Thursday, we go on internships. Right now, I am interning at South King Media as a Reporter. I also joined the school’s newspaper club last year. My favorite thing to do is play with my neighbor’s cats. I am very interested in writing and hope to become a Writer when I get older.

https://bigpicture.highlineschools.org