TEAM High School received a $22,000 donation which the school used to add a multipurpose facility (pictured here on right) for additional student learning and services
Jillian Domingo and Elizabeth “Liz” Vallaire, teachers at Woodland Public Schools’ alternative high school, TEAM High School, drafted a proposal to use a $22,000 donation from the John Moffitt Charitable Foundation to install a second school building to offer specialized education; increase course and project offerings; and provide free meals for TEAM’s students.
With all students taking part in distance learning due to Covid-19, the novel coronavirus, enrollment more than doubled at TEAM High School. Now that vaccines are on the horizon which will make a return to in-person learning eventually possible, the staff realized the limited space provided by TEAM’s existing portable building might not offer all the opportunities they want to offer their students. “We applied to use the John Moffitt Charitable Foundation’s generous donation so we could create a multi-purpose area where TEAM students could participate in hands-on learning assignments and receive direct instruction from certificated staff,” explained Domingo. “With the new space, we can provide multi-sensory, multi-faceted approaches to learning for students with special needs who process information differently neurologically; these students can now be served using specialized instruction.”
The John Moffitt Charitable Foundation recognized TEAM’s need and provided a donation of $22,240.00 to procure and install an additional portable facility on the school’s existing grounds. In addition to classroom space, the building also includes a kitchen area for students and staff to use for classes, science experiments, and meal preparation. “With this kitchen area, we will be able to offer home economics classes, the opportunity for students to conduct heat- and chemical-based science projects, and also the ability for students to prepare their own meals,” said Domingo. “Access to meals at school has been linked to higher attendance rates, improved student performance, and increased graduation rates.”
Additionally, the expansion allows students to take part in other new classes and activities. “We will be able to use the extra room to provide an art and music studio; exercise space; and flexible student work areas,” said Vallaire. “When our students return to in-person learning, the additional facilities will provide them with more learning opportunities than ever.”
Outside of the facility, students will have access to a new concrete patio with picnic table and overhang so students may take breaks outside, rain or shine. “The vast majority of our students have disabilities and Individual Education Plans (IEPs) permitting them to take breaks when needed,” said Domingo. “Having an eating area protected from the elements offers our students the option to enjoy a rest or eat a meal outside without having to worry about the weather."
Between 2014 and 2018, the four-year graduation rate at TEAM High School more than tripled. The school’s goal is to continue the rate of improvement to have a four-year graduation rate at or above 70% by the end of the 2021 school year. “Success of the impact of the donation will be measured by improvement to our graduation rate as well as having students meet school and district goals for state testing proficiency,” said Domingo.
While in remote learning, Domingo sees her students still diligently working on their studies. “My students have been absolute rockstars at home learning with at least three having caught up on more than an entire year of school,” she said. “It’s been really cool to see these kids discovering how they can get ahead in their studies by using remote learning to their advantage and jumping on that opportunity.”
The new facility, a previously-used portable building, was installed by the district’s facility team in December. “We are so grateful to the John Moffitt Charitable Foundation for providing us with this donation,” said Domingo. “The effects the funds will have on our students’ education will be seen almost immediately when we return to in-person school.”
TEAM teachers Jill Domingo (left) and Liz Vallaire (right) seen here with 2019 graduate Chelsea Larson (Note: photo taken pre-pandemic)
TEAM High School offers Woodland’s students a path to earning a high school diploma that accommodates individual life circumstances such as full-time work, challenges with traditional school schedules, or family responsibilities.
The staff of TEAM try to help people think of alternative high schools differently. “Many people hear ‘alternative school’ and think it’s a place for ‘troubled’ kids” said Vallaire. “We want to change that perception: we don’t have ‘typical’ students – we have high-achieving students; students with life responsibilities; and students whose life circumstances make TEAM’s approach to learning a better fit.”
“TEAM can be great for students because we meet them where they are academically and offer a myriad of supports and flexibility with classes to help them succeed,” said Domingo. “Since we have time to work with our students one-on-one, they share information about their work, hobbies, and home lives; I feel having that knowledge helps me be a better teacher by allowing me to adjust my instruction to fit their specific needs and learning styles.”
Over the past years, the graduation rate at TEAM has more than tripled, a significant accomplishment for any high school, particularly an alternative school. Jake Hall, Woodland’s Executive Director of Learning Supports and Alternatives, serves as TEAM’s principal, and commends the staff for why the school sees such great success. “Some of our students develop ‘learned helplessness’ from years of not being successful in school, however, our staff at TEAM works with students to show them that success can build upon success,” he said. “Students at TEAM develop self-confidence by having teachers who want them to be successful, especially some of our most discouraged students.”
Want to learn more about teaming up with TEAM?To learn more about TEAM High School, how to enroll, or how your organization can partner with Woodland Public Schools, visit the TEAM website at www.woodlandschools.org/team.
Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates our students and serves the community, by visiting our dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd
Stay informed with the latest updates about the eventual transition from remote learning to in-person learning and more about COVID-19 at Woodland Public Schools’ dedicated website: www.woodlandschools.org/covid-hq