North Beach

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    All students are goal-oriented, independent, resilient and confident risk-takers, who believe in their power to embrace learning and to EXCEL.

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    North Beach School District is committed to fostering an environment that will educate, nurture, motivate and graduate critical thinkers, who are respectful leaders, skillful communicators, and contributing members of the local and global community.

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  • How We Decide to Close or Delay Schools Due to Weather

    Dear North Beach School District Families:

    For each of my 49 years, I’ve been blessed to live in the Western United States. I’m accustomed to inclement weather; torrential rain, freezing conditions, icy roads, snow, power outages and road closures due to flooding or downed trees. During the winter months, the odds are high that we’ll need to adjust our school day or bus routes.

    At the same time, we need to conduct school as scheduled if we can safely do so! Frequent interruptions in our school schedule interfere with precious instructional time, and inconvenience parents who must work regardless.

    Winter Beach Damon Point Let me tell you a little about the process of how we decide whether to close or delay schools. Before we make such a decision, we consult with numerous staff members, other school districts and Grays Harbor road crews who are actively monitoring conditions throughout our district.

    Our school district covers significant geographic area and the conditions can vary widely based on weather patterns, freezing levels, wind, etc. Deciding to delay or cancel school is a balancing act and many factors go into our decision. Here are a few:

    • Can we ensure that buses will be able to navigate roads safely?
    • Will students be safe waiting for buses, driving or walking to school?
    • What are the predicted weather conditions later in the school day so we can also ensure students a safe return home?
    • Is there current or projected flooding that may block access to roads, schools or homes?
    • If we start school late, (one or two-hour late start), will conditions substantially improve?
    • Will we have heat and lights in our schools?

    School closure/delay decisions will be made between 5:30 and 6 a.m. in order to notify bus drivers and other staff, as well as parents. It’s not unusual for weather to change dramatically after that decision has been made, but once we’ve decided to hold school, it’s important to stick to the decision instead of making a last-minute change that can leave our scholars waiting for a bus or home alone.

    Once we do make the decision to close or delay schools, we use multiple methods to get the word out to parents, students and staff. We use electronic means to notify news media outlets and we add a post to our district Facebook and web page. If you “like” and “follow” our page, you should see these notices in your feed. You can always click over to our Facebook page (@northbeachschooldistrict) to check.

    Finally, we always send an automated message by phone and email. This is why, if you have changes in phone numbers or email addresses during the school year, it’s vitally important that you your student’s school office; this will help us get these messages to you dependably.

    If we prepare carefully and consider all possibilities, we can ensure the safety and well-being of each of our scholars and the staff who serve them during extreme weather conditions. Having served as a school administrator for 25 years, I have experienced school closures/delays that were “spot on” and I’ve experienced some that missed the mark. Please know I will do my best and provide me a little grace if I miss the mark!

    Thank you for trusting us with your most precious commodity -- our scholars.

    We will continue to work to improve every aspect of our school district to ensure that our kids get the very best education and care possible.

    For Kids,

    Signature, Superintendent Andrew Kelly




    Andrew E. Kelly, Superintendent




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  • North Beach Middle/High School Principal Focuses On Removing Barriers

    Cynthia Valdez, principal of North Beach Junior/Senior High School, knows what it’s like to be a student in a system that doesn’t entirely know how to serve you; in a school that goes through the motions, but doesn’t implement from the heart.

    Cynthia Valdez She recalls, as a Kindergarten student, being taken out of class for language testing. “A very tall man took me to a small room, asked me questions in English, and then asked more questions (the same questions, she now knows) in Spanish.  Because I didn’t understand Spanish, I started to cry,” she recalls.

    State law requires schools to conduct this testing yearly to determine bilingual students’ English and Spanish fluency, although schools have different ways of identifying students for the testing.  She was tested every year until sixth grade despite her parents’ repeated efforts to tell the school she spoke English, and despite never speaking a word of Spanish in class. While her family does have Hispanic roots that stretch back through her Valdez grandparents to 1694 New Mexico, she was raised by two English-speaking parents. She believes the only reason she was tested was her last name.

    One of her passions, as a result of  this experience, is ensuring students are known, not stereotyped.  She doesn't want any student to  experience any kind of stereotyping in her school, or elsewhere. When stereotyping occurs, associated expectations about students’ abilities often place an added barrier to their success. “Those additional, imposed barriers then keep many kids from receiving any kind of rigor in instruction, or reaching high levels of academic achievement,” Ms. Valdez emphasizes.

    When she reached high school, she decided to study Spanish, and it came easily to her. Somewhere around that time she also saw the movie, Anna and the King of Siam, and she felt the calling to become a teacher. These were the first steps in becoming a recognized state and national leader in bilingual education.

    Ms. Valdez earned a Bachelor of Arts, followed by a Masters of Education from Eastern Washington University. She began her teaching career in Pasco, earned a continuing principal's certificate and, in 26 years in education, has taught or been an administrator in several districts before joining North Beach School District. 

    Early in her teaching career, she began serving on committees with OSPI, and has helped develop best practices and regulations. She currently serves on the state’s Dual Language Task Force supporting the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

    Ms. Valdez has always loved the coast and, in visits to Ocean Shores, often found herself wanting to live and work in the area. When the opportunity to take the helm of NBMS/HS came up, she applied. “I’ve been sitting behind a desk for 16 years, and I realized it’s time to put my money where my mouth was,” she said. She’s excited to bring her best strategies to the district’s secondary school, which serves 299 students.

    For example, she has implemented several OCDE Project GLAD® strategies at the school. Project GLAD® was developed to enable teachers to more effectively instruct non-English speakers, but the strategies are effective for English-speaking students, too. Ms. Valdez has been honored as the National OCDE Project GLAD® Trainer of the Year, so watch for more innovations in instruction at the school.

    Ms. Valdez has two children. Her 23 year old son, Glenn, works for Schweitzer Engineering Labs in Pullman and graduated from WSU in Electrical Engineering, Math, and Computer Science.  His hard work has just earned him his first patent. Natalie, her 15-year old daughter, has just finished up her AP coursework from first semester in her previous school and will become student number 300 in the district’s secondary school.

    Among Ms. Valdez’s top goals for the school is to restore trust and relationships between administration, staff, students and parents. She’s also exploring ways to expand academic options in the school, both in types of classes and levels of rigor. Students are currently being surveyed for their top choices, after which Ms. Valdez expects to announce some new offerings.



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  • Rhonda Ham: Creating a School Environment that Supports and Believes in All Children

    Ocean Shores Principal Rhonda Ham Ocean Shores Elementary has made substantial gains in academic achievement under Principal Rhonda Ham, who credits her staff and greater community. But as the school’s instructional leader, she is, as the saying goes, where the buck stops. It’s not hard to see she has worked diligently to create a school environment that supports and believes in all children.

    Principal Ham has lived in Grays Harbor County for her entire life, raised her own four children here, and has been an educator with North Beach School District (NBSD) for 33 years.

    After graduating from Hoquiam High School and Grays Harbor College, followed by Western Washington University, she briefly worked as the director of a local parks and recreation district. It wasn’t long before her passion for teaching called to her, and she answered, applying for a position here at NBSD. 

    She taught for eight years at the old Ocean Shores Elementary, then was hired as a science and math teacher at North Beach Junior High for another seven years. She also coached basketball and softball.  She then returned to Ocean Shores Elementary, serving in a variety of roles -- 3rd grade teacher, LAP and Title I specialist -- before earning her administrative credentials and being selected as OSE principal. She’s now in her eighth year in that role.

    Longevity in a small-town school district means you often know not only your students well, but their parents, grandparents and sometime great-grandparents.  Those relationships give educators insights and additional opportunities to reach out to students and enhance their learning.

    Principal Ham is excited about how the school community is coming back together to meet each and every kid’s needs. The greater community is noticing the renewed enthusiasm and this, she believes, has resulted in enrollment at the school shooting back up by 45 students this year.

    The school has been named a Washington State School of Distinction for the second year in a row, an award that is given to the top five percent of elementary schools in Washington when ranked by growth and improvement. She’s quite proud of this award, noting, “It shows the commitment of our staff, community and parents.”

    Principal Ham’s advice to parents? Don’t ever stop believing in your kid’s no matter how old. “Our kids are our most prized possession and we can never stop believing.”




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  • Ocean Shores Elementary School is “Rising above the Tide!” 

    Named a School of Distinction for the Second Consecutive Year

    North Beach School District is proud to announce Ocean Shores Elementary School has been named a School of Distinction (SOD) for the second year in a row (2017 and 2018). The award is given for sustained improvement in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math over a five-year period. In 2014, OSES ranked in the 14th percentile, meaning 86% of the elementary schools in the state were performing better.

    2018 School of Distinction Certificate Since that time, OSES has produced a trendline, growing at 5.7% percentile points annually to now be near the 50th percentile. This aggressive improvement data, places OSES in the top 5% of elementary schools in Washington for growth and improvement.

    Ocean Shores Elementary School is one of 91 schools being honored by the Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) and their partner organizations; WSSDA, WASA, AWSP, AESD and ASCD, all of whom place a premium value on sustained school improvement.

    Principal Rhonda Ham acknowledges her “amazing staff who are committed to each student.” According to Ham, “We want each of our students to succeed and are focused on doing whatever is necessary to ensure their success.”

    NBSD Superintendent Andrew Kelly forecast earlier this year with the North Beach Board of Directors that the district expects a total turnaround and wants to be the highest performing district in Grays Harbor County by 2020. “The district is filled with first class educators who believe in the potential of our children,” Kelly commented. “We’re working aggressively, across the district to ensure that each of our kids are performing at grade level. When we discover that a student is not where they need to be, our principals are building strategic intervention plans and partnering with teachers and classified staff to close the gaps and help our scholars to grow.”

    If you would like further information about this story please contact Andrew Kelly, Superintendent, North Beach School District, or 360-870-3321


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