We felt that we were not preparing students for the real world - still very much in high-stake testing mode.
We realized we had a lot of great practices - just had to do them better.
We wanted to provide students with both deeper, more authentic learning opportunities as well as the more systematic skills like reading comprehension.
We underestimated how much work it takes for culture. It takes a lot of time to build a community and assure them that we are preparing students for life, college and adulthood. Our neighborhood has poverty and a high youth crime rate. We have to support students outside of campus, too. How to make sure we have sustainable culture? Over time, we have people who move on and we need to fill those gaps. Now that students are used to this model, they are less excited compared to the beginning. Enrollment is going down a little bit.
Realize what you are really good at. For example, our strengths include: design and developing authentic learning projects. We create a culture where people are willing to take risks, learn and be adaptive. We have a very dedicated staff who are willing to be learners alongside the students. We believe the school is a nurturing space for students and teachers. We all have to believe in one another, that we all come with different ideas, even when we have conflicts, from nighttime custodian to kindergarten students.
Katherine Smith opened in 1962 and over the last fifty years has had a rich and diverse history with the Evergreen School District. The second school in the District, it has been recognized as both a California Distinguished School (1987 and 2002) and a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence (1988). As we look to the future, our children need to be prepared for an ever changing world. Katherine Smith School has been redesigned with that mission in mind.
Contact: Aaron Brengard
Contact Title: Principal
Katherine R. Smith Elementary School
San Jose, California
95122 United States