Angie Ellenbecker, Principal
Grade level: K–8
Free and Reduced Meals: 47.7%
Year school began to implement innovative practices: 2013
Columbia Crest A-STEM Academy (CCASTEM) is a rural school in the southeast corner of Pierce County. We capitalize on early educational opportunities for students in an outdoor, forested setting that incorporates outdoor labs and environmental experts. Our curriculum is hand-on and project-based.
Place Based Educational (PBE) and its impact on student learning govern many of our decisions at CCASTEM. Place-based education (PBE) immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities, and experiences. We use these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and other subjects. PBE emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the local school and/or community.
We also have a specific focus on sustainability and environmental issues surrounding the Pacific Northwest. Our students are deeply involved in the health of the river with Green River GREEN Congress. They plant trees and steward salmon habitat with Nisqually River Trust. They practice teracycling with Pierce County Educational Outreach. They engage in environmental education with Mount Rainier National Park which is next door to the school. University of Washington Pack Forest is an outdoor lab for students and a regular partner for field studies.
We are meeting our students’ social and emotional needs by using levy funds to add a counselor, mental health counselor from Multicare, and a full-time principal. We engage families, staff, and our community with multiple after school events, field trips, parent conferences, and a small school open door policy. Our school is an open lab where an integrated approach to STEM education teaches students how to reflect on and solve real-world problems.