Washington Middle School will be transformed into an intensive learning center this fall, offering students increased quality and quantity of instruction. The Board of Education recently gave staff the green light to create the new pilot magnet school for 1,100 students in grades four through eight. Washington added fourth and fifth grades this year.
The longer school day and year at Washington will give parents throughout the school district yet another choice. Over the past several years, many parents have told the school district that their students would benefit from more time in the classroom. The Board's decision is consistent with other recent district moves to expand the range of educational options available to families.
"We continue to seek new solutions as we meet the challenge of raising student achievement," said Carl Cohn, superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District, which pioneered public school uniforms and recently opened its first single gender academy.
The school, which has not yet been officially named, is accepting teacher applications through Friday, March 24.
"We're looking for creative, highly motivated teachers to work in an exciting atmosphere of collaboration and professional development," said Chris Steinhauser, deputy superintendent. "These will be very demanding and rewarding jobs."
Washington seeks teachers with literacy training; Essential Elements of Effective Instruction training; the ability to tailor instruction to specific student needs; subject knowledge in English, math, science, history and social science; skills in using assessment and data-driven instruction; and experience in writing curriculum.
The school will provide students 200 days of instruction each year, 20 more than are now offered. Each school day will extend about an hour longer, with teachers on duty at Washington from approximately 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. For students, classes begin at 8 a.m. and dismiss at 3:25 p.m.
In all, the new schedule will give students the equivalent of an extra 43 days of instruction per year. School starts Deptember 5 and ends July 19
Teachers will earn the same daily salary rate as usual, but their contracts will extend to 211 days from the current 182 days, approximately a 16 percent increase. Of the 211 days, 11 will be pupil-free to give teachers more time for planning, training and three days of parent conferences. Currently, teachers have two pupil-free days.
Prospective Washington teachers also should be willing to participate in 10 days of extra training this summer, Steinhauser said.
Interested teachers may contact the school at 591-2434 for applications. Completed applications must be received by the school's principal, Toni Issa-Lahera, by March 24.
"This is an exciting opportunity," Issa-Lahera said. "It's all about increasing student success and reducing student failure. That's our top priority." Issa-Lahera started as principal at Washington this year after working as principal at the innovative Long Beach Preparatory Academy for eighth graders.
Students throughout the school district will be eligible to apply for admission to Washing-ton. First priority for admission will go to students who live in the school's immediate attendance area.
The school will offer many features to boost student achievement, including two reading centers and new grade level and classroom configurations. In fourth and fifth grades, students will stay with the same teacher all day for both grades. In sixth grade, students will attend one self-contained class for most subjects. In seventh and eighth grades, students will experience the departmental approach, with a different class for each subject.