The great truth of Herman Melville’s observation about the human condition defines and exhilarates school life at Crownhill Elementary.
The people who staff Crownhill and volunteer throughout the school share a single, transformative understanding that it takes more than a teacher to educate a child. It takes a school and all its resources, it takes families and community members — all united in the conviction that, as a society, our greatest responsibility is to level the educational field for every child. And that when, as a community, we connect through this understanding, when we believe that every child can achieve, the quality of life now and in the future will be better for all of us.
Economics Don’t Matter on a Level Playing Field
Located in Bremerton, which lies west of Seattle across Sinclair Inlet, Crownhill Elementary provides a pre-kindergarten through grade 5 education. Kids here grow up in close proximity to the Puget Sound Naval Ship yard and Naval Base Kitsap. Economic growth has stalled here.
The recession, which began in 2008, persists, and with its large footprint has dampened the commercial and industrial growth that might have meant higher-wage jobs and more opportunity for families. In 2011, nearly 59% of the 430 children enrolled at Crownhill Elementary were eligible for the free- and reduced-price meal program. Despite the numbers, the burden of hard times and limited opportunity lightens considerably as kids walk through Crownhill’s front door, and the boundless possibilities of an excellent education open up and become real.
- 430 students
- 2.1% ELL
- 59% F/R meals
- 13.9% special education
Equity + Safety + High Expectations = Academic Achievement
If we can take the measure of a high-performing school by the state and national awards for excellence it displays, Crownhill is a small miracle of academic achievement. Recognized repeatedly for its high performance in math and reading, Washington state recognized Crownhill as a Title I, Part A Distinguished School in 2009 and 2011. And since 2008, this school has made the A-list of schools honored with a state Achievement Award.
A new and well-earned Reward School title landed on the hard-working shoulders of staff and students at Crownhill in 2011. The U.S. Department of Education calls out its Reward Schools as public institutions that met Adequate Yearly Progress in reading and math for three years in a row and have eliminated any opportunity gaps — equal access to academic opportunities, support and resources. Crownhill sets a high bar for teaching and learning within safe harbor of a nurturing environment.
Raising Student Achievement Is Hard Work
Principal Jill Carlson puts it this way, “Raising student achievement is hard work.” She operates with a clear vision and unwavering focus. And, she lauds her instructional staff for the development of highly effective learning programs, and systems of instruction, assessment and class management that work for every student. Carlson notes that, “Any school can replicate successfully all of these programs and systems that we’ve built and refined over the past five years.” We find a sympathetic echo in the school motto — Results or Excuses. You Choose.
We Can Make the Connection
The instructional staff at Crownhill set high expectations for each student — academically and behaviorally. And it is this single-minded attention, this clear and shared focus on the positive potential in each child that resonates with the Nine Characteristics of High-Performing Schools. And it begins with a clear and shared focus.