Two elementary schools in Pierce County have received cash awards given by the Championing Students’ Success Foundation (CSS). Custer Elementary School in the Clover Park School District and Brookdale Elementary School in the Franklin Pierce School District were awarded $2,000 each to support the work they are doing to improve student learning for diverse student populations.
CSS was founded in 2021 by current and former Washington public school administrators who have served at the state, district, and school level. The goal of CSS is to support public elementary schools serving low-income, predominately minority students by offering small grants to further their efforts. For the 2022-23 school year, the focus is on schools in Pierce County.
Both Custer and Brookdale serve a high poverty, ethnically diverse student population. CSS selected these schools to receive the Foundation’s awards after a rigorous review process of elementary schools in Pierce County serving diverse populations. The Board of CSS views these grants as a way to thank the teachers for the work they are doing and to encourage them to continue with their efforts.
For more information about the Championing Students’ Success Foundation go to CSS-WA.org.
Championing Student Success (CSS) was founded in the fall of 2021 and is celebrating our first year of granting awards to elementary schools facing challenges to meet the needs of all their students. In 2022 we gave $2000 each to two elementary schools in Pierce County. These schools were selected because they serve diverse ethnic and socio-economic student populations who have made positive gains in their academic achievement.
Initially, we believed that selected schools should use the grant money to directly impact student achievement in academic areas like reading, writing, or math. As we worked with the two selected schools on their plans however, we realized that maintaining a broader view of how to use the funding would increase the range of impacts our grants could have. In fact, both schools selected in 2022 decided to focus on school culture as a way to support student success.
Northeast Tacoma Elementary School decided to use its grant to help fund an All-Staff Appreciation Week. They included all certified and classified staff, because they have observed that when all the adults in a school work together, it results in a positive effect on the welfare of the school and students. The PTA used the grant money to help purchase pizza for lunch on one day, coffee and baked goods for breakfast on another day, and so on—something different each day of the week. In addition, each staff member received a thank-you card with an enclosed gift card. Teachers and staff were reminded of how valuable they are to the mental and physical well-being of children, along with being recognized for their commitment to quality learning for their children.
Naches Trail Elementary in the Bethel School District also selected a focus on school culture by initiating the Kindness Rock Project with their students. Teachers and staff were concerned about their children’s interaction with each other and the lack of kindness being shown. This project will extend into next school year. Based on planning in the spring, when they return to school in the fall, students at all grade levels will select a word that represents an aspect of kindness and paint their word on a rock. The rocks will line a trail at the new school which will open in the fall. Picture books are also being purchased with the CSS grant money to support the theme of kindness; they will be part of the new library’s collection.
Meeting social/emotional needs has long been discussed as a critical part of a well-balanced education. The impact of COVID and consequent school closures has clearly made this focus even more important. Academics can be addressed by teaching with fidelity to clear learning expectations. However, if students are unable to focus, are hungry, exhibit anti-social behavior, and haven’t learned important social skills, then even the best classroom instruction will be for naught.
The CSS Board’s greatest insight in working with these two schools has been the benefit of broadening our focus to include meeting the social/emotional needs of students. This will be one of our priorities in the future as we select schools for our grants. The schools we choose will recognize school culture as a key to academic success. We will continue to learn from these schools and work to find ways to share their insights.
We look forward to the next school year and working with two more elementary schools in Pierce County. For more information and updates on our work, or to contact us, please visit our website at CSS-WA.org.
Two elementary schools in Pierce County have been selected by the Championing Students’ Success Foundation to receive its initial awards. Each school will receive a cash award of $2000 to support its continued work to improve student learning with its diverse student population.
The schools selected by the Foundation are the Naches Trail Elementary School in the Bethel School District and the Northeast Elementary School in the Tacoma School District. The schools were selected by the Foundation to receive the awards after a rigorous review process of all elementary schools in Pierce County serving diverse populations. Both these schools serve a high-poverty, ethnically diverse student population and were recently recognized by the Washington State School Recognition Program (WSSRP) for making excellent progress in helping all students reach their full academic potential. The WSSRP identified these schools based on data from state assessments.
The Championing Students' Success Foundation is a non-profit organization created by current and former Washington State educators. The goal of this organization is to provide small grants to support the efforts of schools to meet the needs of all their students. These grants are a way to thank the teachers for the work they are doing and to encourage them to continue with their efforts.
For more information on the Washington State Recognition Program, go to State Board of Education Announces a New State School Recognition System | SBE (wa.gov)
For more information on the selection process, go to Process Followed by CSS In Selecting Schools to Fund.