Tahoe Truckee school district building on steady enrollment, facility and program upgrades | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee school district building on steady enrollment, facility and program upgrades

Hannah Jones
hjones@sierrasun.com

Enrollment numbers in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District have grown slightly, but steadily, since 2012 from 3,917 students to 4,153 in 2018, as the district continues to update educational programs and renovate buildings into 21st century learning facilities.

"Each year we continue to be recognized by county and state," said Kelli Twomey, coordinator of parent and community relations for the district. "They all play a factor, there's no reason to go elsewhere."

This past year the district took home the Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Award from the The U.S. Department of Education. North Tahoe High School was recognized as a Silver Award recipient in the 2018 Best High School Rankings by U.S. News & World Report. And Truckee Elementary received California's Model Programs Award from the state Department of Education for their Blended English Development program.

In addition, two teachers from the district, Nicole Sayegh at North Tahoe Middle School and Mary Berelson at Glenshire Elementary, have claimed Placer County's Teacher of the Year award the past two years.

"We invest in our teachers and do a lot of professional development for them," said Twomey

"We've come to think that this is just standard."

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SUPPORTING EACH STUDENT

In the last 10 years the district has embraced an instructional teaching model hiring eight additional coaches to work throughout the district to aid teachers in ensuring each student is getting the education they need.

"We put a teacher at each school site to help us look at our students and develop individual learning plans," said Sydney Dion, the district's literacy instruction and design coach. These coaches can help with English language development for students learning English as a second language or those who may not be meeting grade standards.

"When you have students that are reading below grade level you have to address it," Dion said, noting there's differentiated learning going on in each classroom.

"Not all students are the same. They don't learn the same and they don't retain the same. An instructional coach can work closely with students and improve student learning," said Valerie Simpson, executive director of educational services. "We want the students to be happy and learning."

"We have comprehensive programs in place to meet needs of all our kids," said Twomey. "If kids need acceleration or extra time in certain areas they can get that."

While this model of teaching is not unique in the state of California, Simpson said it is not yet the norm.

EXPERIENCES IN EDUCATION

The district also began implementing Career Technical Pathways courses into their curriculum nearly a decade ago to provide students with career specific classes and professional experiences. It began with a foodservice and hospitality pathway and has now culminated into a variety of programs including biotechnology and engineering.

The District partners with businesses and organizations in the community to provide students with professional experiences and insight into their desired industry. Students studying foodservice and hospitality have the opportunity to work in local restaurants, while emergency services students work closely with the Truckee Fire Protection district and biotechnology students partner with staff at Tahoe Forest Hospital.

"We keep evolving and everything we do is for our students," said Dion. "Our district is constantly evaluating what we're doing well and what we can improve on."

"The number one belief we live by is that students are the focus of all our decisions," said Twomey.

In addition to new programs, the district has continued to renovate its buildings in the last few years with funding from Measures E and U passed in 2014.

Truckee High School is still in its final phase of the construction process but is expected to be completed in December of 2019. The project includes construction of a new-two story classroom to house Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math programs as well as a new library, with renovations to the front facade, bus drop-off areas and student gathering areas.

Truckee Elementary School is the last construction project in the books which consists of upgrading and modernizing existing school buildings and utilities, constructing a new cafeteria, parking lot, playground, and play field, building new classrooms to replace the 20 portable classrooms, and expanding the library. The construction is expected to be completed by October 2020.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at hjones@sierrasun.com or 503-550-2652.