October 25, 1999
Woodin Elementary Principal Ron Belcher speaks passionately about the PIE (Partners in Education) program in the Northshore School District.
The program was initially made possible years ago when Woodinville parents Rob and Sharon Jackson started a grant to Wellington Elementary, in grateful contribution to their children's school. When their children graduated to Leota Jr. High, then Woodinville High, the Jacksons added those schools to their grant.
Now it has grown to include the other two grade schools that feed Leota: Woodin and Hollywood Hills. The grant has become the nucleus of last year's FLY (Falcons Leading Youth) program, for elementary students who needed tutoring help.
"The Jacksons are very generous and forward-thinking," said Belcher. "They enabled us to start the 'FLY-1' program last year. We wanted to get student volunteers from Woodinville High to tutor our third- through sixth-grade children, mostly in reading and help with homework. We wanted students who would not just tutor, but be friends with our kids, but just in school, not outside the classroom. Drama students from Woodinville High soon answered the call for help, and their department received part of the grant money, which helped finance their trip to Scotland last summer."
Since last year, 25 Woodin students have received tutoring twice a week, after being recommended by their teachers. An average total of 40 Woodinville High students a week have tutored, creating close to a one-on-one ratio, said Belcher.
Woodin staff decided it worked so well that they should expand FLY to include 20-25 first- and second-grade students. So they started looking for contributions for "FLY-2." Before Belcher became Woodin principal last year, Washington Mutual had donated a $4,000 grant to PIE, but the school didn't have a project for it then and forgot it was in the bank.
"We set a fundraising target of $5,000 for FLY-2," said Belcher. "When Windermere Realty of Woodinville contributed $2,500, we re-discovered the $4,000 from Washington Mutual. That not only enabled us to start FLY-2, but also to rent a school bus from the District to take the students home after their extra hour in school, at 4 p.m. The only thing we're wondering is how the first- and second-graders will hold up for that long a day without getting too tired to benefit.
"At Woodin Elementary, we've found a way to extend the school day for more kids. We want to build on that every year, with help from organizations like Windermere, Washington Mutual, and other organizations and individuals like the Jacksons. With the focus on the new state standards that raise performance expectations, we need more programs like this. We'd like a summer session in place too. Northshore has a fee-based summer school, but that leaves out many whom might need it the most.
"With the high school only a block away, it works great for everyone. Our kids adore the high school students and the high school kids have a great time. Some other individual tutors come from the high school to be teaching assistants in individual classes, usually for one hour a day. Some do ESL (English as a Second Language) tutoring, and others do whatever the teacher needs from them. It's great experience for kids who want to become teachers and for developing people skills."
WHS department head Allyn Perkins told Belcher she would like to get her students involved in science tutoring at Woodin. Belcher said he would like to get students from each school involved in science tutoring. In return, the science department will also receive grant money.
Organizations or individuals interested in participating in PIE should call 402-5960.