On the second day of school last week, kindergartners at Kent’s Millennium Elementary School had special visitors.
Gov. Jay Inslee, and his wife, Trudi, went to Millennium and Kent Phoenix Academy on Sept. 8 as a part of Inslee’s statewide back-to-school tour.
At Kent Phoenix Academy, Inslee met with students and parents to learn about the Kent School District’s implementation of wrap-around services, which help keep students healthy, safe and ready to learn in and outside the classroom.
In its 10th year, KPA – a nontraditional high school offering students three different programs – works with community organizations to connect students and their families with resources such as an on-site health clinic, behavioral health services and a mentoring program.
Kendra Cabrales, Tyrone Tucker and Emilio Sostin shared their experiences as KPA students with the governor.
“It is extraordinary to see what you can produce when you have, a, great innovators and, b, you’ve got a community that really does want to provide these wrap-around services,” Inslee, whose father was a teacher, said in an interview after the visit. “We know they can achieve spectacular results. We are seeing that.”
At Millennium Elementary, district officials talked about successful teacher recruitment and retention strategies.
The school district recruits teachers from across the country, and through a mentorship that pairs new teachers with an educator who previously taught in classrooms but now works full-time as a mentor.
Inslee met with two mentors and four new teachers during his visit to Millennium.
“This is exactly my vision for what I want to see across the state of Washington, that you have really well-prepared teachers,” Inslee said. “We heard from the young teachers today about the difference it makes if you have good classroom management training before you get your teaching job and what difference it makes to have full mentorship.
“I fought very hard to get this money so we can have full-time mentors so they can be out of the classroom doing full-time mentorship. What my vision was, to see it work, it is always gratifying when you design and airplane and it flies, it’s great.”
Before he left Millennium, Inslee high-fived kindergartners as they made their way to buses to head home from school.
Kent School District Superintendent Calvin Watts said he was glad Inslee visited Kent on his back-to-school tour, which also included stops in the Highline School District and Spokane.
“What I have always known is that if you are not at the table in terms of legislative decisions, you might be on the menu, and we don’t want to be on the menu,” Watts said. “So we want to be a part of shaping legislation. If we can influence, in a positive way, by showing examples of why good teaching and effective learning are taking place, than I certainly want to continue supporting that effort. I’m glad he was able to see some the great work that was happening, and we look forward to future visits.”
In May 2015, Inslee went to Mill Creek Middle School to sign a bill to improve the state’s College Bound scholarship program. In 2014, he visited Kent’s iGrad facility.